Middle Eastern Rice Recipe with Spices, Pistachios, Cashews and Raisins. Most popular April recipes.

Middle Eastern Rice Recipe with Spices, Pistachios, Cashews and Raisins

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This Middle Eastern rice recipe with spices, nuts and raisins makes a spiced rice dish inspired by Arabic rice dishes from the Middle East, such as Arabian machboos and kabsa, Palestinian qidreh and Syrian maqluba. While authentic in flavour, our rice dish is stir-fried in the speedier Asian-style rather than slower Middle Eastern pilaf method.

My quick and easy Middle Eastern rice recipe with spices, nuts and raisins will make you a fragrant spiced rice dish infused with Middle Eastern spices and textured with nuts and raisins. It’s fantastic with smoky kofta kebab or garlicky shish tawook, and salads such as fatoush and tabbouleh. It’s one of our best Middle Eastern recipes and one of our most popular recipes.

While my Middle Eastern rice recipe is authentic in taste – there are few more quintessential Middle Eastern spice blends than the ‘seven spice’ mix known as ‘baharat’ and nuts such as pistachios and cashews – the technique I use is inauthentic. Instead of the pilaf method, I use the Asian stir-fry method to use up leftover rice.

The next day, I combine any leftover Middle Eastern spiced rice with kofta kebab meat or garlicky chicken leftovers, which I break up into bite-sized pieces and quickly stir-fry again. The result is a wonderful rice dish that makes an easy yet comforting meal for a filling lunch or casual dinner.

But before I tell you all about this Middle Eastern rice recipe with spices, nuts and raisins, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve cooked our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo. For instance, you could make a small donation to our epic Cambodian cookbook and culinary history on Patreon, for as little as the price of a coffee.

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Middle Eastern Rice Recipe with Spices, Pistachios, Cashews and Raisins

My Middle Eastern rice recipe with spices, nuts and raisins is inspired by the many spiced Arabic rice dishes that we fell in love with during our many years living and working in the United Arab Emirates, and travelling in the Middle East as travel and food writers and guidebook authors.

During my time working as an academic in Abu Dhabi, then Dubai, I was lucky to eat Emirati food, including Arabian rice dishes, in the homes of my female students, at the end of semester picnics they organised for us, and at their lavish weddings – where a Bedouin delicacy of roasted baby camel on a mountain of spiced rice was the highlight.

I say “lucky” because in those days it was next to impossible to find Emirati food outside local homes or cultural events. Most Arabic restaurants served the cuisines of the Levant – mainly Lebanese food, but also Syrian food. The other popular cuisines eaten out in restaurants were Iranian/Persian, Moroccan, Afghani, Pakistani, and Indian.

It was far easier to find restaurants that specialised in an Indian regional cuisine than Emirati cuisine, which is why I treasured the chance to try the food of the Emirates whenever I could. One of the most popular Emirati rice dishes was machboos, also written as makbus or maqbus, and also called kabsa. Eaten right across the Arabian Peninsula, where every country claims it as their national dish.

Made in the UAE with the beloved Emirati spice blend, bezar – a mix of turmeric, cumin, cardamom, coriander, star anise, cinnamon, fenugreek, fennel seeds, chilli, and pepper – machboos is served with everything from fried fish to braised chicken cooked in a tomato based spiced broth.

Another Arabic rice dish I adored was hashweh, which is best known in the Arabian Peninsula countries as a Bedouin rice dish, but is cooked right across the Middle East and thought to have originated in Palestine.

Middle Eastern Rice Recipe with Spices, Pistachios, Cashews and Raisins

A versatile rice dish, hashweh is eaten as a side dish to grilled meats at home, but during religious holiday feasts and celebratory meals for weddings, hashweh serves as a bed for larger roasted meats such as a lamb or goat that are piled on top, and used as a stuffing in baby camel – ‘hashweh’ in fact means ‘stuffing’ in Arabic.

Like machboos, hashweh rice is heavily spiced – in this case, typically with a spice blend of cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, and pepper that infuses the rice as well as the minced meat, usually beef – and is garnished with nuts, such as almonds and pine nuts.

Of all the Arabic spiced rice dishes, it’s machboos and hashweh that have probably most influenced my Middle Eastern rice recipe.

My recipe is essentially a result of our 20 years split between the Middle East and Southeast Asia, a combination of the flavours and textures I miss from the food we ate when we lived in and travelled the Middle East, and the Asian cooking technique that we most commonly use here in Cambodia, stir-frying.

I will be sharing more authentic traditional Middle Eastern rice recipes here with you, as I adore them all. But I think this quick and easy Middle Eastern rice recipe is a great introduction to cooking Middle Eastern rice dishes, especially if you’re new to cooking with the pilaf method, and you’re more comfortable with cooking Southeast Asian food.

If you’re a regular reader, you’d probably aware of my rice experiments and love of cooking with rice – and if you’re not, do take a look at my rice project Make Rice Not War (A Celebration of Rice Diversity to Inspire Curiosity and Connection) and my guide to how to cook rice around the world, which features rice recipes, stories and tips from some of the world’s best chefs, food writers and cookbook authors.

Now let me share a few tips to making this Middle Eastern rice recipe with spices, nuts and raisins.

Middle Eastern Rice Recipe with Spices, Pistachios, Cashews and Raisins

 

Tips to Making this Middle Eastern Style Rice Recipe

I only have a few tips to making this Middle Eastern rice recipe with spices, nuts and raisins, as it comes together quickly after you blend the spices, and you’ll find it easy to make if you already cook Asian fried rice recipes.

My recipe calls for leftover jasmine rice, as that’s what we use most and usually have in the fridge, and this is essentially a leftovers recipe that gives you a Middle Eastern alternative to Southeast Asian or Chinese fried rice if you have leftover rice. Having said that, by all means use basmati rice if you have some on hand.

The main difference between my Middle Eastern inspired rice recipe and more traditional Arabic spiced rice recipes is that the latter are usually made with the pilaf method, which calls for the spices to be or fried in oil or ghee, which the rice is then cooked in before being covered and finished using the absorption method.

In Southeast Asia, rice is usually steamed in a rice cooker and leftover rice is refrigerated and then used to make fried rice. That’s what we’re doing here. If you’ve had your leftover rice in the fridge overnight, take it out an hour or so before cooking and use a fork to separate the grains.

Arabian spiced rice recipes usually call for ghee, however, I use olive oil, which is more commonly used in the Levant, where olives are grown. While a pot is typically used for cooking rice dishes, I recommend opting for a wok.

If you don’t have all the spices on hand, don’t worry, as the rice dish is still going to taste wonderful. If you don’t have raisins, use sultanas, and if you don’t have cashews or pistachios, use almonds or pine nuts or whatever combination of nuts you like.

Taste the rice when you’re done and adjust the seasoning to suit your palate – if you like, add more salt, a little more sugar, or even more spice. I love to garnish the rice with more roasted nuts, fresh thyme sprigs and lemon slices. A squeeze of lemon at the last minute really adds a lovely zing.

Serve immediately while piping hot. I love to serve my Middle Eastern rice with braised chicken or grilled meats such as kofta kebabs or shish tawook, and a Middle Eastern salad such as tabbouleh or fatoush. Enjoy!

Middle Eastern Rice Recipe with Spices and Nuts

Middle Eastern Rice Recipe with Spices, Pistachios, Cashews and Raisins. Most popular April recipes.

Middle Eastern Rice Recipe with Spices, Pistachios, Cashews and Raisins

This quick and easy Middle Eastern rice recipe with spices, nuts and raisins makes a spiced rice dish inspired by Arabic rice dishes from the Middle East, such as Arabian machboos and kabsa, Palestinian qidreh and Syrian maqluba. While authentic in flavour, our rice dish is stir-fried in the speedier Asian-style rather than slower Middle Eastern pilaf method.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course rice, main course
Cuisine Middle Eastern food, Arabic food
Servings made with recipe4
Calories 237 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 300 g cooked jasmine rice
  • 2 tbsp pistachios
  • 2 tbsp cashews
  • 2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbsp raisins

Instructions
 

  • Remove the leftover cooked jasmine rice from the fridge, use a fork to thoroughly separate the grains and set aside.
  • Combine all the dried spices in a bowl or glass jar until well incorporated and set aside.
  • In a big flat-bottomed wok, fry the pistachios and cashews for a minute or two until they start to colour, continually stirring them so they don’t burn, then transfer to a dish and set aside.
  • In the same wok, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over high heat, add the dried spices, stir to incorporate well, then add the cooked jasmine rice, thyme sprigs and raisins, and stir fry until the spices, nuts and thyme, are evenly distributed and the rice has changed colour and is hot.
  • Taste, adjust the seasoning to suit your palate, transfer to a serving plate, garnish with more fresh thyme sprigs and lemon slices and serve immediately while piping hot.

Notes

Garnish: thyme sprigs and lemon slices

Nutrition

Calories: 237kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 4gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 300mgPotassium: 179mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 23IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 1mg

Please do let us know if you make our Middle Eastern rice recipe with spices, nuts and raisins, as we’d love to hear how it turns out for you.

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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

2 thoughts on “Middle Eastern Rice Recipe with Spices, Pistachios, Cashews and Raisins”

  1. I could easily have this as a main and just a side salad of fattoush to refresh the palate!
    It turned out really well – but I just could not make it as pretty looking as in your photos – another reason to make it again!5 stars

  2. Hi Jane, so pleased to hear this! I agree – I can easily eat this with some kebabs and keep things simple and be very satisfied, as much as I love a Middle Eastern feast with the works. Terence is responsible for the photos, so I’ll pass on your kind words. If you do cook it again, please do tag us any pics you post of the dish on Instagram as we’d love to share it in our stories. Thanks for dropping by!

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