Looking for Middle Eastern and Arabic rice dishes to try at home? I have got you covered, here you will discover 21 rice dishes to make and enjoy!
Rice dishes have become very popular in Middle Eastern and Arab cuisines. It is rare to find a lunch or dinner table with no rice. In fact, rice is usually part of the main meal for millions of people across the Middle East.
This is a list of many of the tastiest and most common rice dishes in the Middle East and Arab world.
Want to explore more Middles Eastern and Arabic dishes at home? Check out this Middles Eastern Cuisine Cookbook.
Flavorful Middle Eastern & Arabic Rice Dishes
Kabsah (Saudi Rice Dish)
Kabsah is a good starting point for this post. It is an iconic rice dish in Saudi Arabia. It might as well be the national food of the Saudi people. To propose a single recipe would be an oversimplification of this glorious rice dish.
Kabsah comes in various varieties of ingredients and spices. However, it must contain some flesh and a load of rice. Traditionally, Kabsah is made with chicken and rice and it is the cheapest and most common variation among most Arab families in the Middle East.
The types of rice and spices may vary from one family to another.
Tahdig (Persian Rice)
There are several variations of Persian rice but Tahdig is one that is especially unique and considered a delight in Persian cuisine.
Tahdig is a kind of browned (burned) Rice cake. It is made in a unique fashion that really gives an added dimension to an otherwise regular rice dish.
Machboos (Qatari Rice Dish)
Machboos is an Arabic rice and meat dish that is popular in Qatari cuisine. It is similar to Saudi Kabsah in the way it is cooked and served.
The slow-cooked meat, fresh spices, and rice all make for a well-balanced and tasteful Middle Eastern rice dish.
Another unique characteristic of Machboos is its special blend of Qatari spices.
Koshari (Egyptian Rice Dish)
Koshari rice dish is almost as iconic as the Pyramids in Egypt. Koshary is the most significant and popular food in Egypt. It is as complex as it is loved.
Koshary can be described as a mix of rice, pasta, chickpeas, and lentils. Topped off with a spicy tomato paste and crispy onions, it is certainly an explosion of taste.
Koshari is a regular daily treat on the streets of Cairo.
Mansaf (Jordanian Rice Pilaf)
Mansaf is the staple rice dish of Arabs in Jordan and its neighboring Syria. It is also the stereotypical meat and rice dish served on a platter.
There are a few variations with regard to the spices and ingredients. Mansaf has a special side condiment, Jameed, fermented goat yogurt.
Mansaf is the meal of choice on big occasions and family meetings.
Lebanese Rice Pilaf With Vermicelli
Lebanese rice is well-known for its taste that comes from the roasted vermicelli and pine nuts that are sprinkled over the top.
Lebanese Rice Pilaf is eaten with just about everything in Lebanon. Some say that the secret to its great taste lies in the butter and olive oil added right at the beginning.
Tebit (Iraqi Slow Cooked Rice)
Iraqi Tebit is an Arabian slow-cooked rice and chicken dish usually served on special occasions in Iraq.
Tabit is made with Basmati rice and chicken that’s flavored with saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon. This Arabic rice dish is so comforting and yummy.
Better yet, it’s so easy to make. All you need is a pot, Basmati rice, Chicken, and a few spices.
Shirin Polo (Persian Wedding Rice)
Shirin Polo rice is another Middle Eastern rice dish that is perfect for weddings. Shirin Polo is traditionally made in Iran and is often served during celebrations.
Shirin Polo is a Persian dish made with rice and a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. In addition to these ingredients, the traditional Shirin Polo recipe includes chicken.
For an enhanced taste, this rice dish is served with yogurt or sour cream on the side.
Timman (Iraqi Saffron Rice)
Iraqi Timman Rice is a saffron-flavored rice dish that is typically served with lamb or chicken or on its own.
It is a popular Arabic rice dish in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries.
There are other versions of this dish that uses carrots or fava beans as the flavoring ingredients.
Pilav (Turkish Rice)
Turkish rice, also known as Pirinc or pilav is a delightful alternative to regular rice.
Pilav rice is smaller in size and cooked in a way that gives it this juicy, sticky feel that I can’t get enough of.
Pilav is usually served with the iconic Fasuliye ‘fava beans’. Pilav is also an excellent side to any Turkish main food, whether vegetables or meat.
Maqluba (Palestinian Upside-Down Rice)
Makloubeh is Palestinian rice, vegetables, and meat cooked together in one pot.
This dish is usually made with chicken or lamb, but can also be made with beef.
Makloubeh is traditionally served by flipping the pot upside down on the serving plate so that the rice is on the bottom and the meat and vegetables are on top.
Moroccan Paella (Rice with Seafood)
Moroccan Paella is one of the Arabic rice dishes that are made with seafood. Paella is actually a Spanish dish but it has been adopted by Moroccan cuisine.
The dish is made with rice, saffron, seafood, and vegetables.
Paella is a very popular dish in Northern Morocco.
Murabyan (Kuwaiti Rice with Shrimp)
Kuwait is a small country, but the diversity of its cuisine is impressive.
Murabyan is one of Kuwait’s traditional rice dishes with a seafood twist.
This hearty and filling Middle Eastern rice dish is flavored with sauteed onions, saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon and topped with a lot of Shrimp.
Ruz Mbowkh (Lybian Rice with vegetables)
Ruz Mbowkh also known as Ruz bi Khudra is a traditional Arabic rice dish from Libya.
It’s simply a plate of well-cooked rice topped with a variety of vegetables with a gooey and delicious sauce.
Ruz Mbowkh dish is great for vegetarians and vegans. It’s not only a filling Arabic meal but it’s a delicious one as well.
Rouz Jerbi (Tunisian Djerbian Rice)
If you have ever been to Tunisia you will recognize that this Arabic rice dish is very much loved.
Rouz Jerbi is a healthy Tunisian food made of steamed rice, a ton of vegetables, and protein (It could be chicken, meat, or seafood).
If you are vegetarian or vegan don’t worry you can get this rice dish without animal protein.
Yemeni Chicken Mandi
The long list of Middle Eastern rice dishes won’t be complete without the Yemeni Chicken Mendi. It’s a very popular dish not only in Yemen but also in other countries in the Arabian Peninsula.
Chicken Mendi is basically chicken and rice cooked together in a pot.
The chicken is usually marinated beforehand in spices like black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cumin, and turmeric.
Mujadara (Lebanese Lentils and Rice)
So much goodness in one dish! This is a Lebanese hearty and filling meal that is perfect for lunch or dinner but no one will judge you if you have it for breakfast.
Mujadara is a popular dish in the Middle East and is made with rice, lentils, and caramelized onions. It is usually served with a dollop of yogurt on top but you can also add a fried egg for extra protein.
Ruz W Bazella (Syrian Rice Cake)
While you are drooling over these spicy Middle Eastern rice dishes, Syrians are busy making layered cakes out of rice.
One of Syria’s popular appetizers is called “Ruz W Bazella”, a cake made of rice and peas.
The cake is made of layers of cooked beef, peas, rice, and finally a layer of crispy nuts.
Kabuli (Omani Chicken Rice)
Omani Chicken Kabouli is a healthy and hearty Middle Eastern rice dish that is perfect for any occasion.
Similar to the Saudi rice dish Kabsah, Kabuli is made with Basmati rice flavored with Omani a special spice blend, topped with chicken, and garnished with various ingredients such as dates, and nuts.
This rice dish is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters!
Algerian Wedding Rice
This Algerian rice is prepared particularly for weddings. It is a sweet dish, which is perfect for such special happy occasions.
The recipe is not complicated and the result is always impressive. Algerian wedding rice is made of steamed rice, raisins, almonds, and orange blossom water.
What type of Rice is used in the Middle East?
There are 3 types of rice you can use for your Arabic and Middle Eastern rice dishes:
- Long grain rice: Very popular in middle eastern rice dishes that go with meat on the side. Easy to work with and separates really well yielding a fluffy texture.
- Middle grain rice: This type of rice is known for its sticky texture that’s best for rice stuffing recipes. This rice is very popular in Egyptian cuisine.
- Short grain rice: With its super thick and sticky texture, this rice is mostly used for rice puddings and other stuffing recipes like stuffed Dolma.
That’s all for now! I hope you will enjoy trying out some of these Middle Eastern and Arabic rice dishes. If you do, please leave a comment below and let me know which is your favorite!
Happy Middle Eastern Rice Cookin!