Middle Eastern Recipes Side Dish

Lemon Rice -Middle Eastern Style

With its light lemony and buttery flavours this rice has always been a favourite in our house and makes the perfect side dish with middle eastern cuisine. | Share

Updated 12/12/2023

This recipe has been passed down through generations and introduced to me through the descendants of Syrian immigrants.  You’ve likely come across variations of this rice at middle eastern restaurants and shawarma shops.  I could not imagine certain meals like Lebanese Lamb and Green Bean Stew, grilled lemon chicken or lamb kabobs without it.  It also works well with many fish dishes.  

Umayyad Mosque, Damascus, Syria. Photo: Abd Sarakbi
Rice cooking options

For this recipe, I prefer to use long grain white rice. And, more specifically, the healthier parboiled variety, that’s also called converted rice.

Traditionally, this rice is cooked in a pot with a lid. However, this recipe works well in automatic rice cookers with a sauté setting. After sautéing the pasta, add the rice, stir to coat it in the butter. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, then select the white rice setting to cook the rice.

Lemon rice in bowl

Lemon Rice – Middle Eastern Style

Kevin Lamoureux
With its light lemony and buttery flavours this rice has been a favourite in our house for years and makes the perfect side dish for many middle eastern or Mediterranean meals.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine middle eastern
Servings 4
Calories 121 kcal


  • 1 cup long grain parboiled (converted) white rice
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter or ghee
  • 2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice juice of one medium lemon
  • 10 strands of vermicelli or angel hair pasta
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ tsp salt


  • Soak the rice in cold water for about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile add the butter to a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Break up the pasta into 2-inch lengths and add to the pot. Sauté the pasta in the butter on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until brown. Be careful not to burn the pasta.
  • Work the soaking rice with your fingers to release starch then strain to remove the water.
  • Add the rice to the pot and give it a stir to coat it in the butter.
  • Add the lemon juice, water and salt then bring to a boil.
  • Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes.
  • Stir before serving.


Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro.
Per serving
Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.6g | Iron: 0.7mg
Keyword lemon, rice

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