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My Mother's Yellow Rice and Onions

Rice is an essential part of Middle Eastern and Israeli cuisine! So many dishes are not only accompanied with rice but many times it is a part of the dish itself.

It is used to stuff vegetables or meat, or mixed with lentils and onions as a meal. Almost any food I make that requires stuffing contains rice.

Middle eastern rice differs greatly from Asian Rice. Every grain should be separate from the other yet a perfect texture. Not too hard and not too mushy! Never sticky. That's perfect Middle Eastern rice.

This simple and absolutely delicious dish was one of my mother's signature dishes. No one made rice like she did.

My mother entertained a lot at our home and I still remember my aunt asking her every time how she made her rice. She would give her the exact recipe and my aunt would call and say "you didn't tell me the exact way to make it, it never comes out like yours". But she did, it's just that making perfect rice is a bit of an art you see.

If there's one dish I learned to make almost exactly like my mother did, it is her yellow rice. To this day my kid's now adult friends still ask me to make the yellow rice and onions I made at all the barbecues they always attended when they were younger. My children now cook it the same way today.

I added my own touch of onions to the rice recipe many years ago and it kind of became one of my signature dishes too. You can make it without the onions, just sauté the spices alone for a couple of minutes on low and add them to the rice. That is the way my mother made it.

So here's the way I learned to make it from my mother. The simplest way you will ever make a great bowl of rice. No measuring the water.

Ingredients you will need:

All spices can be adjusted according to taste

2 cups of basmati rice. This is my preferred rice and it is the best for middle-eastern rice.

1 large onion

1 tablespoon Osem bouillon soup

mix. I prefer this for flavor but you can add 1-2 teaspoons of salt instead.

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon of chopped parsley. (Optional)

2 ½ tablespoons olive oil


Chop onions.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and sauté the onions until they are yellowish in color

and translucent.

Add spices and mix. The turmeric which adds a great flavor is what will make your rice yellow. Continue sautéing until onions start to turn a little brown but not burned.

Set onions aside.

Rinse rice in cold water and place in a medium pot.

Cover with cold water to about an inch and a half below the top. Just enough so the water doesn’t boil over the top. Bring to a boil.

Reduce to simmer and cover for 3 minutes. Check if rice is cooked enough by tasting a grainer two. It should be cooked but not too soft or too hard. Mine takes 3-4 minutes. Drain all water in a colander.

Put the rice back in the pot and add the remaining ½ tablespoon of the remaining olive oil and toss lightly not mushing the rice. Toss onion mix into rice the same way until all is blended. I like using a metal spoon to mix the onions in.

Every grain is separated from the other the way it should be. Perfect!

Serve with any of your favorite entrees.

Enjoy our family’s favorite side dish.

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