Armenian Rice Pilaf (Meatless Monday)

When I was little, I was enraptured by commercials for Rice-a-roni. Not kosher, but I imagined it was the most deletable pilaf ever. Turns out, this boxed mix is just a pre-packaged version of a classic Armenian dish.

I have made Arthur Schwartz’s version before, and liked it quite a lot. In Molly O’Neill’s recent book, One Big Table, she has a recipe from Nancy Mehagian. (also here) Mehagian’s recipe is slightly different from Schwartz’s (1/2 cup butter, 2/3 cup broken vermicelli, 2 cups rice, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 5 cups chicken broth). I changed the recipe ever so slightly.

I like to add Hawaijj (see here or here to make it yourself if you can’t find it premade) and sometimes also turmeric to give the rice a little color and flavor.

Armenian Rice Pilaf
1Tbl. olive oil (or butter)
1/3 cup spaghetti, broken in 1″ pieces (Spaghetti comes pre-cut, or orzo would work well, too)
1 cup rice
1 tsp. kosher salt, or more, to taste
2 1/2 cups water (or use broth and reduce the salt by half–so far, I have only made this recipe with water)
1/4 tsp. Hawaijj (or turmeric and a pinch of black pepper)
1/4 tsp. turmeric (optional, depending on how yellow you like your rice)

Saute the pasta until golden, and add the rice, cooking for another minute or so. Add water and salt (or broth and salt as needed) and bring to a boil. Simmer on low, covered, for 20-25 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: This recipe will go a bit faster if you boil the broth/water in another pot while you saute the pasta.

(Note: I want to try Nancy’s Boerag next)

I have served this as a side dish and also as a main dish by adding chick peas. This would be nice with lentils, as well.

The recipe can be doubled.

Update: Pereg sells Hawaij.

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8 Responses to “Armenian Rice Pilaf (Meatless Monday)”

  1. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) Says:

    Yum, spaghetti AND rice in one dish! Too good to be true! I have never heard of hawaijj but will have to look for some. Any suggested sources?

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Hmmmm . . . . my mother brought me the Hawaijj from Israel. I would make your own mix until you know someone is going to Israel and then ask them to bring you back some. If I see any locally, I will update. Maybe Sarah’s Tent in Deal might have it? You can use boxed vegetable broth, I guess, also. The hawaijj just gives that brothiness without actually using broth. If you are making the dish fleishig, you could use chicken stock and olive oil. My son loooooooooves this.He could eat a whole pot all by himself. Very kid friendly.

  2. Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) Says:

    Thanks for getting back to me on my blog with a source for Hawaij. I love trying new spices! I didn’t realize it was a Yemenite spice. I just posted on my kosher blog ( about Jachnun, a Yemenite pan bread we tried this past Shabbos. Looks like I’m going all-out with Yemenite cooking!

  3. molly Says:

    Oh, heck, I remember DREAMING of that manna (Rice-a-Roni, that is). I’d all but forgotten its origins. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Joanne Says:

    My mom used to make rice a roni all the time but I have to say, this looks WAY better!

    • pragmaticattic Says:

      Thanks, Joanne! If you make it with butter, even just a tablespoon, it tastes amazingly buttery. But it is so good with olive oil, too.

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