What to Do with Leftover Biryani Rice: An Arab Guide

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Let’s set the scene with some Arabic music…

Picture an Arab market. A souk. 

You’re plunged into a world of vibrant chaos. 

Shopkeepers howling at the sides fending off bargaining customers.

Fabrics upon fabrics in every color you can imagine. 

Gold jewelry at every turn in these narrow, stone paved alleys. 

Then it hit you. 

The air hangs heavy with unfamiliar strong scents. Aromas that not only tickles your nose, but your entire being. 

A woman in a flowing abaya beckons you to try a dish that’s both colorful and mouth-watering. 

So you did. And you’re certain an oasis isn’t a place, but a feeling brought about by a taste. 

The culprit? Biryani. 

Long-grain rice mixed with meat and a blend of spices.

Beyond Borders

Welcome back to another leftover article, fellow foodies! Today, we’re putting on our silk garments and heading off to discover what to do with leftover biryani rice. 

But first, let’s get to know our main ingredient. 

The Arabian Peninsula is known for its kabsa. 

Long-grain rice with chicken or lamb then a blend of cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. It’s usually served with yogurt or tomato sauce on the side.

The Levant, including Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, they add a luxurious touch of saffron and a citrusy taste from sumac. 

Then the gulf region with their dried fruits of apricots and raisins. 

These are all variations of biryani. 

The key difference lies in their spice profile. It varies depending on the exact place you’re at. 

A Thousand and One Flavors

It’s an Arabian kind of night. 

As such, I’m not about to let you waste the leftover biryani rice you “just had to take home because I’ve tasted nothing like it before.”

But cast aside your woes. Tonight, we embark on a magical culinary journey through the markets of Arabia. 

And I assure you, by the time we’re finished with this article there’ll be nothing left of your leftovers, not even crumbs. 

Here’s what to do with leftover biryani rice: 

Falafel + Tahini is a Party

First stop for our culinary caravan is the street food scene. 

We’re doing falafel fritters jam packed with chickpeas and a touch of biryani magic. And to complete it all off, tahini sauce inspired by pastes of the Middle East.


  • 2 cups of leftover biryani rice
  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas that were already soaked overnight
  • ½ cup of parsley 
  • ¼ cup of of cilantro
  • 1 chopped small onion
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic (1 for the tahini sauce)
  • ½ tsp of ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp of ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of tahini paste
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of water 
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Food processor
  • Large skillet
  • Plate with paper towels
  • Bowl


  1. Using a food processor, combine the chickpeas, leftover biryani rice, parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, flour, salt, and pepper. Pulse everything until a coarse mixture forms. 

Note: Be mindful of the flavors already in the biryani, though. You might end up overdoing the spices. 

  1. Scoop a tablespoon of falafel and roll it into a ball. Repeat this for the remaining mixture (you can make about 12-15 fritters). 
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium fire. Fry the falafel balls for about 3-4 minutes once the oil is hot. 
  3. Drain the excess oil on a plate with paper towels. 
  4. While the balls cook, prepare the tahini sauce in a bowl. Whisk the tahini paste, lemon juice, water, garlic, salt, and pepper until creamy. 
  5. Serve with pita bread and chopped vegetables. 

A Bedouin Lentil Salad

The Bedouins are renowned for their desert hospitality. So much so that you might as well enjoy a lentil salad with mint and pomegranate together. 

This nomadic Arab tribe is known for their rich culture. 

No one does music, poetry and distinctive attire like the Bedouins. A testament to their pulsating heritage and lifestyle in the desert. 


  • 2 cups of leftover biryani rice
  • 1 cup of brown lentils
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • ½ thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 diced cucumber
  • 1 cup of chopped cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup of chopped mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • ½ tsp of ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Saucepan
  • Large bowl


  1. Combine the lentils and vegetable broth in the saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes. 
  2. Drain and set aside for cooling. 
  3. Mix the lentils, leftover biryani rice, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, mint leaves, and pomegranate seeds in a large bowl. 
  4. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Note: We’ll use the existing flavors of the biryani rice as base for the dressing. 

  1. Serve warm or chilled with protein to make a hearty and flavorful meal. 

Baklava Rolls for Dessert

Traditional Middle Eastern pastries use layers of flaky phyllo dough. We’ll also use it in enveloping our filling made with your leftovers. 


  • 2 cups of leftover biryani rice
  • ½ cup of chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup of chopped pistachios
  • ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ cup of melted butter
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • 1 package of thawed phyllo dough
  • Vegetable oil


  • Large bowl
  • Damp kitchen towel
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper


  1. Combine the leftover biryani rice, walnuts, pistachios, sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom thoroughly in a large bowl. 
  2. Lay the thawed and unfolded phyllo dough on a flat surface. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. 
  3. Brush a sheet of phyllo dough lightly with melted butter or vegetable oil. Place a tablespoon of biryani filling near the short end of the dough.
  4. Fold the short end over the filling, then another fold to make a triangle. Continue folding down diagonally until the filling is totally encased in a triangular roll. 
  5. Repeat step 4 for the other phyllo dough wraps and filling. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 190°C while you arrange the baklava rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Brush the tops with melted butter or oil. 
  8. Bake them for 20-25 minutes until they turn golden brown.
  9. While still hot, drizzle them a generous amount of honey. 
  10. Allow them to cool slightly before digging in. 

End of the Caravan

How’s that for an oasis? How’s that for salvation? 

We once again transformed another leftover mess into a bazaar of mouthwatering goodness. 

This just proves how a little creativity can go a long way (all the way to Arabia). 

Now go indulge in your culinary escapades. Let me know how this one goes. 


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