Za’atar Rice with Crispy Beef

I was in search of a Mediterranean rice-based dish, i.e. flipping through many an Ottolenghi cookbook and recipes online. But I was finding them to have more ingredients and spices than I wanted, as I was looking for a really simple pilaf or fried rice-type dish to accompany a lentil arugula salad, and an acorn squash with tomato and lime-yogurt sauce.

In the end, I decided to go back to a simple fried rice but to add Mediterranean spices and some protein in the way of beef, but to also add texture by crisping it up.

We had a few different za’atar mixes I had concocted early in the lockdown and decided on a sumac heavy one. And I chose a thinly sliced beef usually used for shabu-shabu.


  • 1 cup jasmine rice, which yields about 3 cups of cooked rice
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced beef, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar (or to taste)
  • cilantro leaves for garnish


Rinse and cook rice, according to package directions. You can do this step in advance but I don’t find that you need to let it cool.

Melt one tablespoon butter to a large nonstick pan. Add diced carrot and onion and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Remove and set aside.

To the same pan, add two tablespoons of butter and heat until bubbling. Add shredded beef to pan, evenly spreading it out and let cook without stirring for a few minutes. This meat will brown better. Then flip meat to brown other side. Once all the meat is brown and crispy, remove and set aside.

Bring the butter and oil (from beef) mixture up to a bubble and add the cooked rice. Let rice sit and crisp up a bit in the pan. Add cooked vegetables and beef.

Add za’atar and stir into fried rice mixture.

Plate and garnish with cilantro.