A uniquely sweet and savory breakfast combo



A recipe that you can make to both start and end your day? Sign me up. Balaleet is a truly unique dish that I’m excited to share in the latest edition of my “5 People, 5 Breakfasts, 5 Countries” series. This breakfast submission is courtesy of Miriam from the UAE.

Balaleet is considered to be a traditional breakfast of the UAE, but can also be found in neighboring countries around the Persian Gulf like Bahrain and Kuwait. You’re most likely to find a plate of Balaleet at an Eid al-Fitr celebration, where Muslims break the fast of Ramadan. However, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy this festive meal. For Miriam, Balaleet is nostalgic and connected with happy memories of family gatherings and her grandmother’s cooking. But she also claims that this breakfast can easily be treated as dessert.  It’s all just a matter of perspective and preference.  

So, what exactly is this multi-functional meal? Sweet and savory, Balaleet brings together vermicelli noodles and a rich egg omelet. The thin vermicelli noodles are lightly fried, quickly boiled, and then sweetened with an amazing showcase of Middle Eastern flavors including cardamom powder, sugar, saffron, and rose water. The crispy noodles are then finished off with an egg omelet. It’s a quirky combination that somehow works with the eggs perfectly balancing the sweetness of the noodles.  

This unique pairing actually dates back to the Bedouin people – nomadic, desert tribes that moved throughout North Africa, parts of Asia, and the Middle East. For the Bedouins, Balaleet was an easy breakfast to make that could keep them full throughout the brutal desert days. The use of vermicelli in Balaleet is also a great illustration of the trade of that time. Vermicelli, an Italian word and creation, spread throughout the world during the Middle Ages with variations all across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Balaleet is just one way the people of, what’s now the UAE, experimented with the thin pasta.  

When it comes to eating Balaleet today, you have a few options. It can be served hot, cold, as breakfast, or as a sweet and salty dessert. However, according to Miriam, a side cup of Chai Karak is absolutely non-negotiable.  

Watch the Video


  • 1 cup vermicelli noodles short strand kind
  • 2 tsp butter or ghee more if you'd like
  • 1 Tbsp cardamom powder
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • pinch saffron (you can either add it in as it is, or dilute it in a tablespoon of rose water and use the water instead)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a pan, melt a teaspoon of butter (or more if you’d like) and add the vermicelli noodles. On low heat, stir constantly and fry until golden brown (should take around 10 minutes or so, but fry the noodles to your liking).
  • Once the noodles are fried to your liking, add 3-4 cups of water (enough to cover the noodles) and boil until they are cooked (15 mins or so).
  • Drain the cooked vermicelli.
  • Add the noodles into a new pan, along with another teaspoon of butter, the cardamom powder, sugar, and saffron/ rose water.
  • Mix until the sugar is dissolved (do not discard the sweet liquid, let it seep into the noodles).
  • Add 2 eggs to a separate pan and make a plain omelet (season with salt and a tiny bit of pepper for taste).
  • To plate, fold the omelet in half and place on top of the vermicelli noodles. Enjoy!
Course: Breakfast, Dessert
Region: Asia
Diet: Vegetarian


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