Rice with Spiced Beef (Ruz ba Lahma)

A version made with ground beef and toasted pine nuts and almonds.

If there is any recipe that I always get requests for, it is this one. This recipe was made infamous by my mother, as any time we had a dinner party, this was how rice was served. Well, the apple did not fall far from the tree, and every time I have guests over, this is the rice that I make. I only associate this rice with guests, so I very rarely make it for a regular weeknight dinner for the family. I should just call it “ruz lil 3zooma”, which means rice for house guests. Ha!

Anyway, there are a few key things to remember about making this rice. One, you have to make a batch of fresh white rice. If you haven’t mastered that, I provide the recipe below. This is probably the only thing that I measure when I cook, and that was after many miserable experiences with soggy rice. You could just get a rice cooker and call it a day though. The second thing to remember is to always keep your nuts in the freezer. Nuts are naturally oily, and keeping them at room temperature could cause them to go rancid. Nobody wants no nasty rancid nuts. Eww. I have a few small jars that I keep in the freezer – pinenuts, hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios. Those are my go-to nuts, and they last for quite some time in the freezer. Lastly, you can really use any beef here. When I have a large dinner party, I always buy mass quantities of meat, and I always have a little left over. For the dish, you don’t really need more than about 1/3 lb of ground beef or of stir-fry beef. The important thing is the spice combination. I always use seven-spice because the cinnamon and nutmeg create a nice warm flavor that compliments the nuts nicely. If you have never used seven-spice, then you haven’t lived. I am kidding, but seriously, get some. It is commonly sold at Middle Eastern markets, and online. Seven spice is a delicious combination of nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, coriander and cloves. Every brand has a different ratio, but for the most part the predominant flavor is the nutmeg and cinnamon. (Check out the great Annisa Helou’s recipe for seven spice.)

From start to finish, this takes exactly 20 minutes, which is how long it takes to cook the rice. Easy peasy, and a great addition to the dinner table! You can also get creative and add various items to the meat mixture – try raisins, cranberries, or different nuts like hazelnuts.  All taste great with beef and rice.  Enjoy!

Rice with Spiced Beef (Ruz bi Lahma)

by Brenda

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes


Ingredients (serves 6)

For the Rice

  • 1 1/2 cup of white rice
  • 3 cups of water or organic chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp of butter or ghee
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

For the Beef

  • 1/3 lb of stir fry beef (or lean ground beef)
  • 1 tsp seven spice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp of butter or ghee

For the Nuts

  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp of butter or ghee


For the Rice

(1) Wash the rice and drain. You should repeat this 2 or 3 times until the water runs relatively clear. This removes excess starch preventing the rice from clumping.

(2) In a medium size pot, heat the butter or ghee over medium-high heat. Once it melts, add the rice. Mix well with the butter.

(3) Add the water or chicken broth. Once the liquid begins to boil, add the salt, cover and reduce the heat to the lowest setting.

(4) Cook for exactly 20 minutes. Perfect rice every time!

For the Beef

(1) If using stir fry beef, wash and rinse the beef. Cut the beef into mini bits. My guess is that each strip can be cut into 3-4 mini cubes. But it really depends on the butcher. Just make them miniature cubes. If using ground beef, you can skip this step obviously.

(2) In a bowl, add the garlic salt and seven spice to the meat. Mix well.

(3) In a small saucepan, heat the butter or ghee. Once melted, add the beef and stir until cooked. Be sure to drain any excess fat. It should take about 5 to 7 minutes to cook thoroughly.

For the Nuts

(1) In the same saucepan the beef was cooked in, add a bit more ghee or butter to medium-high heat until it melts.

(2) Add the nuts, and stir frequently. Once they start to slightly turn brown, they will cook very quickly, and you dont want them to burn, so watch carefully!

If you really want to be a Martha, then get a small bundt pan. Place the nuts and beef at the bottom of the bundt pan. Then top with the rice, and really pack it in tight. Then flip the entire thing over for a really nice presentation. Reminds me of my mom every time!

Powered by Recipage




  1. yum ..a classic…our jordanian/palestinian version is bit different..the spicing is about the same and truly make the dish as well as the nuts..but sometimes we like to color the rice yellow with either curcum/turmeric or osfur/safflower stigmas or saffron..depends on the mood and foods to be served alongside..it looks very grand..and we aslo saute the meat first then saute the rice along side , add the liquid and let them cook together..and never garlic..onion is ok.

    • Hi Aina! I usually use egyptian short grain rice, but you can use regular white rice, brown rice, or whatever you prefer! I am not a huge basmati person, because I feel the flavor only complements certain dishes that I make. Enjoy!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

CommentLuv badge