A traditional Gulf Middle Eastern dish, balaleet (بلاليط) consists of sweetened, fragrant vermicelli noodles topped with eggs. Sounds like a strange combination but it works PERFECTLY! I’ll give you a step by step guide and video so you can see exactly how to recreate this on your own!
What is balaleet? (بلاليط)
Balaleet is a traditional dish in the Gulf (the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, etc) that incorporates sweet and salty elements. Balaleet is usually eaten for breakfast. In Arabic, it’s referred to as: بلاليط.
It consists of two main parts, vermicelli noodles and an egg topping.
The vermicelli noodles are sweetened and flavored with rose water, cardamom, turmeric and saffron.
After cooking, they are topped with an egg omelette, or scrambled eggs that have also been flavored with cardamom and saffron, and salt and pepper.
I had never heard of these until I moved to Bahrain in my early teens, but they are ubiquitous in Bahraini cuisine, so I tried them and never looked back.
So good! There’s so much fragrant flavor from all the aromatics used, the noodles are lightly sweetened and contrast perfectly with the saltier spiced eggs. They are truly addictive.
Around the internet you’ll see these often referred to as a traditional UAE dish, but you’ll find them in most Gulf countris and each might have their own take.
What makes this recipe so good?
I took all the bits and pieces that I liked of recipes from the different regions I’d seen. I wrote down a rough recipe I wanted to try, thinking this would be a trial and error sort of process. The first try and these were perfect! That usually never happens.
The sugar is very balanced: Most recipes will have at least 3/4-1 cup of sugar for the same amount of noodles. I added 1/2 cup thinking I’d add more if I needed to- I definitely didn’t need to! Sweet enough without being cloying or overly sweet.
There is a great combination of spices: Feel free to play around if you’d like. The amount of cardamom, turmeric, saffron, etc, was just perfect for us! Good ratio, giving enough flavor without being too over the top. I saw a lot of recipes that added a lot more cardamom, but this was enough for our taste!
It’s exotic- but it’s also super comforting!
It’s easy. I made sure to keep it as simple as I could, and it takes probably 15 minutes start to finish for a really great breakfast.
Ingredients in Balaleet:
Vermicelli Noodles: I like to use these vermicelli nests for longer strands instead of the short and broken vermicelli. I attached this link for a photo reference.
Oil and butter: You’ll use vegetable oil initially to toast half the vermicelli. Then, some more oil and butter to coat the cooked noodles.
Sugar: Regular white sugar, you can increase or decrease the amount according to taste.
Spices and flavoring: Cardamom is essential in this, as well as turmeric and saffron which will give the noodles a lovely yellow color. I like using rosewater which gives so much fragrance. Also, a pinch of black pepper for a little contrast.
Eggs: I like making a simple omelette to top the noodles with, and season the eggs slightly with saffron and cardamom, as well as salt and pepper.
My husband is really cool and went all out and made a Japanese style omurice omelette to top these with. Incredible! You can do scrambled eggs too! Feel free to increase the amount of eggs if you are serving a larger crowd.
Steps in making balaleet:
Make the noodles by toasting 1/2 of them until golden brown, then adding in the untoasted half.
Add boiling water until noodles have cooked to al dente according to package instuctions.
Make sure not to overcook, because once you drain them you’ll be returning them to the skillet.
Wipe out your skillet after draining the noodles, add some oil and butter, and the vermicelli back in.
In goes the spices, the rosewater steeped saffron, the sugar, and the mixture bubbles a little until sugar dissolves and noodles dry out.
In a separate skillet, prepare the eggs however you like, and top the noodles with them before serving.
Enjoy warm, preferably with a cup of tea or chai. Ultimate comfort!
For the vermicelli:
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads or powder
- 1/4 cup rosewater
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil (divided)
- 2 cups vermicelli (I used nests) 420g
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoon cardamom powder
- pinch black pepper
For the eggs:
- 4 eggs
- pinch saffron optional
- pinch cardamom
- salt and pepper to taste
For the vermicelli:
- Dissolve the saffron into the rosewater and set aside to steep for 10 minutes or until ready to use in the recipe.
- Heat 2 tablespoon of the vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large, deep skillet, then add half the vermicelli noodles. Toast on both sides until golden brown, then add the remaining vermicelli.
- Pour boiling water on top, enough to just submerge the noodles, and boil for 4-5 minutes until cooked al dente or according to vermicelli package instructions.
- Drain the noodles over a colander, wipe out the skillet, and add the butter and remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Once hot and bubbling, add the vermicelli back in, along with the sugar, turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, and rosewater saffron mix. Reduce heat to medium, and stir for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved and noodles have dried out a little. Meanwhile, prepare the eggs.
To make the eggs:
- Whisk together the eggs, saffron (optional), cardamom, and salt and pepper. Make an omelette or scrambled eggs to top the noodles with.
- Place the cooked vermicelli noodles on serving platter and top with the prepared eggs. Serve immediately.
Balaleet by everylittlecrumb on Jumprope.
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