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Middle Eastern Rice Dishes: Recipes from the book “Jerusalem”

Middle Eastern Rice Dishes: Recipes from the book “Jerusalem”

I don’t really remember when I first heard of the book Jerusalem, or the book Plenty, or the author, or even the restaurant Ottolenghi. All I knew is that I wanted those books. I added them to my wish list on Amazon and then soon forgot about them. It was not until I was on instagram and looking up my favorite chefs, food personalities, and restaurants that I stumbled upon Ottolenghi. The pictures, absolutely breathtaking. The colors. The contrasts. The cuisine ignites a culinary spark in me that I haven’t felt in years. Hmmm. There’s that passion again.

So recently, I found myself (as usual) perusing the shelves ( mean web pages of Amazon) and I again stumbled upon the book Jerusalem. Long story short. It’s sitting next to me right now on my bed. The first night I cracked open this stunning book I was transported to another place, another time. The introduction was a history lesson in itself and introduced me to the backbone of what Middle Eastern cuisine was and is. The land, the religions, the different backgrounds. What a fascinating story of food and how cuisine is just a mesh of different cultures. There are so many recipes I cannot wait to try; either for the spices that I’ve never had touch my tongue, or the mixing of ingredients that I never would have put together on my own, much less made a dish from. Two out of the three dishes I’m making for this post are his exact recipes because when you’re trying a new recipe (or new cuisine for that matter) that’s how it should be. You have to know how the original is supposed to taste before you can branch out on your own culinary take. The third dish is an Arab salad, which even as the author says, is up to your own making. I’ve also made similar salads on my own countless times. I did use the dressing from ” Na’ama’s fattoush” to dress my salad and oh geeez it was amazing.

The first dish is a simple basmati (rice) and orzo (pasta) side. Who’d of thunk to combine pasta and rice? The author says it is quite common to find this interesting mix in the Middle East and provides an interesting texture and look to this hearty side or main. The second recipe I used was the “Turkey and zucchini burgers with green onion and cumin.” One word to describe this dish. “Divine.” I had leftover patties that I’ve been eating solo (and even cold) for my midday lunch. Superb (ok, so maybe two words to describe these tasty guys). And lastly, this dish is just a simple salad of fresh vegetables dressed with the awesome buttermilk dressing I spoke of earlier. Sumac is a spice I’d never had and am so glad I picked up to add to my spice rack. It adds an acidic sourness (likened to fresh lemon peel and salt) to any dish to dress it up in. I combined the three recipes to make my own sammich using naan as my chosen vessel. Please do yourself a favor and get the book Jerusalem! You’ll be thrilled with the culinary tour the book takes you on!


Basmati Rice and Orzo/p. 103

1 1/3 cups Basmati Rice

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (or ghee)basmati rice orzo lilchefchic

1 Tablespoon Sunflower Oil ( I used olive oil)

1/2 cup Orzo

2 1/2 cups Chicken stock

1 teaspoon salt


Wash the rice well and let soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain.

Heat butter and oil in a medium sauce pan (with lid) over medium high heat. Add orzo and saute 3 to 4 minutes until pasta turns dark golden. Add stock and bring to a boil, cooking for 3 minutes. Add the drained rice to the pot, bringing to a gentle boil and stir once or twice. Cover the pan and let simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid and place a clean kitchen towel over the rice and place the lid back on the pan. Let sit at least 10 minutes to finish cooking (I left mine for 20 minutes). Fluff with a fork before serving.



Turkey and Zucchini Burgers with Green Onion and Cumin/ p. 200

1 lb. Ground Turkey

1 large Zucchini, grated (about 2 cups)

3 green onions, thinly slicedturkey zucchini jerusalem lilchefchic

1 large egg

2 tbsp chopped mint

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

about 6 1/2 Tbsp sunflower oil, for searing ( I again used Olive Oil)


Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl combine all ingredients except oil. Using hands mix ingredients well and shape into small oblong patties (makes about 20).

Pour oil in pan forming a thin layer and sear meatballs on each side until brown. This takes about 4 minutes. Transfer the patties to a lined baking pan and cook in oven for 5 to 7 minutes until just cooked through.

turkey patties lilchefchic





Chopped Salad

2 Baby cukes, cut in 1/8″ dice
2 Roma tomatoes, 1/8″ dice
1 tbsp Mint leaves, chopped
1 tbsp Italian Parsley, chopped
2 tbsp Diced red onion

3/4 Cup Buttermilk
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp Vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Lemon, juiced

1/2 tbsp Sumac
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Combine veggies and herbs in small bowl. Mix wet ingredients separately and pour over veggies, reserving about 1/2 cup. Spoon remaining dressing over finished turkey patties.

18 thoughts on “Middle Eastern Rice Dishes: Recipes from the book “Jerusalem””

  • I had my first try at a Middle Eastern restaurant in New York City last summer. NYC is the favorite city of my former boss and his wife and every year, they would visit and meet us in NYC and we sample new restaurants. I remember eating orzo and steak. But what’s different is the seasoning used to marinate the steak. It’s delicious.
    It’s strange (to me) to mix rice and pasta and to cook them together! But I will surely try the basmati rice and orzo recipe. We Asians love rice and we have learned to crave for pasta, too! Your recipe is like mixing cultures together.
    Thanks for sharing these recipes!

    • Oh New York is a culinary delight! So many restaurants that combine so many cultures and techniques! It’s truly a melting pot:) Thank you so much for the thoughtful post and let me know if you get to try the rice/pasta recipe. It really is amazing:)

  • This looks absolutely delicious and healthy. You always have great recipes. I am not a good cook, but I find your instructions very easy to follow. In fact, I have tried several of your recipes all ready. I will tell you, they are amazing!!! I will also give this one a try. I will let you know how it turns out. Thank you for sharing. Keep up with the good work.

    • Love love love! Thanks so much Hong! And thanks for coming back and showing some comment love!

  • Thank you for sharing these lovely recipes, I look forward to trying them soon. I’ve never tried pasta and rice in the same meal before, but I agree you have to know how the original meal is supposed to taste before you give it your own culinary touch. Thanks!

  • Never tried any of the middle eastern foods before I guess it’s something to look forward to. I like the way your article is written worded very good and makes me hungry lol. I have never heard of the spice Sumac the way you explained it sounds like one to try.

    • Hi Fred! Thanks so much. I love when my posts make people hungry! And the sumac was something I’d never cooked with either. It was so interesting and delicious! Thanks for visiting!

  • These recipes sound absolutely amazing. I love Basmati rice, and all of the fresh ingredients in the turkey and zucchini burgers. We have to give these a shot sooner than later. Would the burgers turn out well on a grill or is better to put them in the oven? Your chopped salad is also a fantastic idea. I really appreciate you sharing these recipes. My wife and I are always on the lookout for fresh, whole food to eat and you hit the nail on the head with this.

    • Cool! Thanks Steve! You are gonna love this recipe. It was so tasty! If you want to forego the cooking them in oil I’d do the oven rather than the grill. They are fragile little creatures and would not be able to take the grill without falling to pieces. Please get back to me on your results! 🙂

  • Super fresh and creative! Love the history behind the amazing dish. 😊

  • Wow! Thanks for sharing this amazing content! These recipes look amazing and I’m looking forward to trying it out! I’d never think of combining rice with pasta either. It’s really interesting. Regardless, I just got some ingrediants together and I’ll let you know how it turns out! The pictures of the food looked delicious and I can’t wait to each these tasty treats!

  • The whole combination of dishes is totally a full lunch set for me; rice, burger patty, and salad. I think drinks is the one missing. I never thought of rice with pasta. I certainly haven’t seen Orzo before but as a cook, I’m curious how it looks. However, I’ve learned so much from this post. I’ll try the Basmati rice with Orzo in my own ingredients here in our place.

    By the way, I like your patty recipe but no turkey meat here. Thanks for these delightful recipes. I’ve learned new cooking techniques this time.

    • Hi Eli:) So glad you’ve made it back to my lil home again:) This recipe is killer..It’s the most unusual combination of pasta and rice and works! 

  • This looks like the perfect book for my sister on her birthday. I am going to try the burgers; they look like the perfect thing to have on hand for lunches or a quick meal. I think they will freeze well, too, so I can make a big batch and save some for later. Thanks for sharing!

    • Omg. This recipe is to die for. My brother raved about it for days on end. Please let me know if you try it!

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