Balaleet - sweetened buttery vermicelli with hint of cardamom, rose water and saffron topped with a savoury egg omelette.
What is Balaleet made of?
Balaleet is a traditional breakfast dish served across the Middle Eastern Gulf countries. The dish is made with the midly sweet vermicelli topped with savoury omelette. Some versions have a portion of vermicelli roasted until browned and some include fried nuts and raisins too. The flavour profile is mostly cardamom or rose water and saffron.
Tagging this dish as Middle Eastern even though known as Emirati Breakfast as I found this is common in neighbouring countries too. This recipe is more of a Bahraini-style Balaleet.
My mil (Umma) introduced me to Balaleet. My in-laws lived most of their early life in Bahrain and continues to have the "gulf" food on their menu. Balaleet is her tradition for Eid day breakfast and I fell in love with it in the very first bite.
Umma had one request when I left India to join her son in Yanbu, "please make balaleet for my son!" 😝 I have only watched her make and it is a very straightforward dish. Cook the vermicelli, mix with the rest of the simple ingredients like butter, sugar and cardamom and top it with an omelette. easy right?
What can go wrong?
My Intial attemps of making balaleet always ended up with muddled-up vermicelli. I was stupid to not follow the pack instruction to boil the vermicelli.
Please make sure you cook as per the pack instructions. The pack would mention timings for both al dente and complete cooking. Make sure you boil only until the al dente time.
Also what many packs fail to mention is the boiling has to be done on medium to high flame. So if it says 6 mins for al dente, then it is 6 mins of heavy boiling and not simmering on low flame.
Why you should make this?
Balaleet is best option for a lazy weekend. There is no prereq of soaking and grinding...not even kneading...this recipe needs the least attention and effort.
You just need vermicelli, butter and eggs to make a simple bowl of balaleet. You can spruce it up with added flavours of cardamom or rose water or saffron. Take this to another level by adding fried nuts and raisins. And, like me you can combine this dish with some fried ripe plantains!
- Vermicelli: I have used the brand "Emirates Macaroni" vermicelli that has Balaleet picture on the cover. My mil uses Bambino vermicelli. So I hope you get the idea which thickens is preferred. Avoid the thin, roasted Mehra or National that is used for making kheer.
- rose water
How to make it?
Just cook the vermicelli, (roasted or unroasted) until al dente and let it sit in butter, sugar, cardamom, rose water and saffron mixture for almost 30 minutes. The rose water and saffron are optional - you may add that and make it occasionally.
Tips to avoid overcooked vermicelli
- Make sure you have your draining system ready so that you can drain the pasta immediately.
- In case you feel it got past the al dente stage, then pour some cold water all over the drained pasta immediately to stop it from cooking further.
- If you have drained it with a bowl under to catch the water, then discard it so that the steam will not get back to the drained pasta cooking it further.
I have seen that the balaleet that they serve here in the Emirates has dual shades - fried and boiled vermicelli. Most of the recipes online asks you to fry a portion of vermicelli in butter and add remaining pasta, boil and drain. Drain?? all that buttery goodness down the drain?? No thanks.
I do have a better way to get it without wastage. I used my Semiya Upma concept of cooking the vermicelli in just enough water so there is nothing to drain. You keep the buttery goodness and the roasted shade.
I recently started topping my bowl of reduced portion of balaleet with Kaivatiyathu - my favourite pan-roasted ripe plantain. It is yummier and more filling with more nutrition than just vermicelli and egg.
Balaleet | Sweet Vermicelli and Eggs
For the sweet vermicelli
- 2 cups vermicelli pasta
- 1 tablespoons butter 14gms
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- ½ teaspoon rose water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons brewed saffron optional (see notes)
For the omelette
- 2 eggs
- salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Boil the vermicelli until al dente as per pack instructions. (read post) Drain into a colander and place the pot back on the stove.2 cups vermicelli pasta
- On a low to medium flame, add half the quantity of the butter, sugar, cardamom powder, and rose water to the pot. Stir until the butter melts completely.1 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons sugar, ½ teaspoon cardamom powder, ½ teaspoon rose water
- Next, add the drained vermicelli and top it with the remaining butter, sugar, rose water, and cardamom powder.
- Pour the saffron water if using and again toss the contents or use a spoon and gently mix.1 to 2 tablespoons brewed saffron
- Cover the pot and let it sit on the lowest flame for about 20 to 25 minutes. You can open it once or twice and stir it to prevent it from getting burnt or sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Meanwhile, prepare the egg omelettes with salt and pepper.2 eggs, salt to taste, Freshly ground black pepper
- Switch off and serve balaleet topped with an omelette.