Equal parts sweet and salty, balaleet (بلاليط) is the greatest breakfast you’ve never heard of. Toasted vermicelli is enriched with butter and perfumed by aromatic rosewater, saffron, and cardamom, creating an indescribable taste sensation. It’s both delicate and bold, hearty but decadent, deceptively simple on paper with wildly complex flavor harmonies. Top that all off with a tender omelette and you can start to understand why it’s a signature dish of Emirati cuisine.
As it’s sweetened with sugar, sometimes with a heavy hand, balaleet can be served cold for dessert, too. Think of it like rice porridge / rice pudding; versatile and endlessly adaptable based on personal preferences. My take leans more savory than most, balanced out by my not-so-secret ingredient: Sugimoto shiitake powder.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
There are no rules for making excellent balaleet, only recommendations. Experiment to create the version you enjoy best.
- Spaghetti: I used regular spaghetti for the sake of convenience, but you could swap in any long noodle, like angel hair or linguine, and make it gluten-free if needed.
- Vegan butter and olive oil: Let’s not kid ourselves: The generous measure of plant-based fats are a large factor in making this dish so crave-worthy. If you need to eat oil-free, though, you can try going without. Toast the noodles in a dry skillet before proceeding with the recipe, and make sure you use a non-stick skillet for the omelette.
- Rosewater: Try orange flower water instead if that’s more readily available. In a pinch, a tiny splash of vanilla extract and lemon juice can fit the bill.
- Saffron: Real saffron is a splurge, no doubt about it. Save your money by using a pinch of ground turmeric instead.
- Sugar: Some recipes can have upwards of 1/2 cup of granulated sugar per serving! I prefer much less, but you can always add more to taste. To make this recipe sugar-free, add a few drops of liquid stevia, as needed.
- Sugimoto shiitake powder: While there’s no replicating that deep umami flavor, absent of any overtly mushroom-y taste, you can make do by swapping the plain water with shiitake mushroom soaking water instead.
- Chickpea flour: The key to making a tender, fluffy plant-based omelette, chickpea flour is an essential staple that should always be on hand. That said, if you’d prefer a simpler approach, you could skip the homemade omelette altogether and heat up a JUST folded egg.
Another Note About Noodles
Skip right to the good stuff and start with fideos to make this recipe even easier. I like the more random lengths created by breaking up full strands, plus it’s just fun to break things.
- Place your long noodles in a strong zip-top bag. Don’t use a flimsy plastic shopping bag because it will surely tear and make a mess in the process.
- Press the air out of the bag and make sure it’s sealed.
- Either use your hands to pick up and crack the noodles at random, or smack it gently with a rolling pin, until the pieces are all roughly 1 – 2 inches in length.
Traditionally, the noodles aren’t toasted, but I love the color, extra nutty flavor, and toothsome texture this creates. You’re welcome to skip this step if you’re in a rush.
How To Serve Balaleet
Forget cold cereal flakes; given the balance of fiber and protein, balaleet is the true breakfast of champions. As such, it’s a complete meal on its own. My only suggestions would be for drink pairings, such as:
- Chai tea
- Strong coffee
- Fresh squeezed orange juice
For added heft, you could also incorporate or serve on the side:
- Whole chickpeas
- Sauteed or caramelized onions
- Hash browns or home fries
If you haven’t yet tried balaleet, you’re missing out. If you have, I’d implore you to give it another go with shiitake powder as an all-purpose flavor booster. Seamlessly amplifying both sweet and savory notes, you may be surprised by what a big difference this small addition can make.
- 8 Ounces Spaghetti
- 2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Teaspoons Rosewater
- 1/8 Teaspoon Saffron
- 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Shiitake Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/2 Cup Chickpea Flour
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
- 3 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
- 3/4 Teaspoon Black Salt (Kala Namak)
- 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 2/3 Cup Water
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Toasted Pistachios, Roughly Chopped
- Place the spaghetti noodles in a sturdy zip-top bag, press out the air, and make sure it's sealed. Break the noodles into 1 - 2 inch pieces either by snapping them between your hands or by smashing them with a rolling pin.
- Set a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the vegan butter and oil. Once hot, add the broken spaghetti and saute, stirring periodically, for 6 - 8 minutes, until toasted and golden all over.
- Add in the rosewater, saffron, sugar, shiitake powder, cardamom, salt, and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 8 - 9 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the pasta is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat but keep covered to stay warm.
- Meanwhile, prepare the omelette by whisking together the chickpea flour, turmeric, nutritional yeast, black salt baking powder, pepper, and water in a large bowl. Beat vigorously to make sure there are no clumps remaining.
- Set an 8-inch skillet over medium heat on the stove and coat with half of the oil. Pour half of the omelette mixture in, swirling it gently to fill the pan evenly. Let cook, undisturbed, for 8 - 10 minutes, until golden brown underneath, no longer shiny on top, and set around the edges. Gently fold it into quarters and remove to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oil and omelette batter.
- To serve, divide the noodles between two plates and top with the folded omelettes. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and enjoy hot.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 680Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1453mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 8gSugar: 17gProtein: 19g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.