Umma's Balaleet | Middle Eastern Breakfast Dish

February 04, 2016

Balaleet - I am calling this Umma's (mil) because she is the one who introduced me to this dish. My in-laws lived most of their early life in Bahrain which is the main reason I believe her dishes are influenced by middle eastern cuisine. During my initial days at in-laws, I heard them say "Make Balaleet for babhie..." and Umma went on to explain how it is done. I just pretended to smile with surprise and oh-I-cant-wait-to-eat face because I heard her say sweet vermicelli with a spicy omelette. WHAT?? I was really sceptical about how it would taste and wonder how to escape having it.. you really can't get away like you do with your mom... right?

Updated 3rd July 2017: Recipe edited to reduce portion and a few new images from the latest version. 

Balaleet | Middle Eastern Breakfast Dish

When I had her Balaleet, I was surprised that it was more than expected edible and delicious too. The next time, I insisted on making my own omelette and I really enjoyed even more. Ever since, whenever she makes Balaleet, she would leave the omelette making task to me. So I really don't know which is the star of the dish, the sweet vermicelli or the omelette! I think the sweet and savoury taste gets together when you start chewing and I bet you will be surprised how good it tastes.

Balaleet | Middle Eastern Breakfast Dish

Umma had a request when I left India, "please make balaleet for my son!" 😝 She even packed a few packs of her brand of vermicelli. I have only watched her make and it is a very straightforward dish. Cook the vermicelli, mix with rest of the simple ingredients like butter, sugar and cardamom and top it with an omelette. But somehow the past few times I made, it never tasted like hers. Most of the time it was my proportion error. I used to always get muddled up vermicelli and so gave up trying and declared "I don't like this dish so I am not making it"! :-P (Perks of living alone). So it was put off for a while until I felt the need to make it for F.

I then made this for my lonely weekday breakfast while making notes along the process and must tell you I was super surprised at the outcome. At last.. phew...! The only stupidity I did was not follow the pack instruction to cook the pasta I got from here. LOL.

Umma's Balaleet | Middle Eastern Breakfast Dish

As I had promised to cook on weekends, this dish really comes handy as there is no prereq of soaking and grinding.. not even kneading..this recipe needs least attention and effort. Just cook the vermicelli, (roasted or unroasted) perfectly until al dente (just cooked) as it is going to sit in butter, sugar, cardamom, rose water and saffron mixture for almost 30 minutes. And also, this is a sweet cum savoury dish so add as much as sweetness to the vermicelli and increase the spices on the omelette.

Tagging this dish as Middle Eastern even though known as Emirati Breakfast as I found this is common in neighbouring countries too.

Balaleet | Middle Eastern Breakfast Dish

Umma's Balaleet | Middle Eastern Breakfast Dish

Yields: 2 to 4 servings  


2 cups of vermicelli
Water and salt to cook the vermicelli until al dente as per packet instructions*
2 tablespoons soft butter, divided or soft ghee
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon rose water
1 pinch saffron - crushed with the back of the spoon and soaked in a tablespoon of warm water or warm milk
2 omelettes prepared with salt and pepper (or any way you prefer)

*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 or low flame.
*Make sure you have your draining system ready so that you can drain the pasta immediately. And 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. I am sharing these tips so that you get the perfect separated vermicelli instead of a wet lump that some of you shared. 

  1. Boil the vermicelli as per packet instruction 
  2. Drain the almost done (al dente) vermicelli in a colander and pour very cold water over it. This is to bring down the temperature and stop further cooking
  3. On a low flame, in the same pot, add half quantity of butter, sugar, cardamom powder, rose water and quickly add the drained vermicelli and toss it to coat the mixture
  4. Add the remaining butter, sugar, rose water, and cardamom powder 
  5. Pour the saffron water and again toss the contents or use a spoon and gently mix
  6. Cover the pot and let it sit on lowest flame for about 20 to 30 minutes. You can open once or twice and stir to prevent from getting burnt or sticking to the bottom of the pan 
  7. Meanwhile, prepare your omelettes as per your taste
  8. Switch off the pot and serve the balaleet on a plate and top it with an omelette

Updated: 13th Nov 2016 - I have updated the recipe to reflect the taste and idea of the bowl of balaleet we had from Saffron by Jena, Bahrain. I also make omelettes with just salt and pepper.

Introducing F in my food pics!

Umma's Balaleet | Middle Eastern Breakfast Dish
(my first pic where I have used Bambino long stick vermicelli that his mom had packed when I came here :-D I no longer use that. )

Ever since I have become sweet-toothed like F, I thoroughly relish having Balaleet for weekend breakfast once in a while. You kills my energy even at the thought of cooking on weekends! I have been changing that for better since the last couple of weeks... InshaAllah, I should keep doing it.

Have you had Balaleet? How differently do you make it? I am eager to know your ideas.

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