Alice Bilyk / Daily Nexus

Fried rice is one of the most versatile and customizable dishes I’ve ever made. This version is a little closer to a Middle Eastern-style rice pilaf than the traditional fried rice, and it is absolutely delicious! The recipe can be easily adjusted or substituted based on what you have available. Below are some of the main adjustments you can make without affecting the integrity of the dish. 

Any type or quantity of rice can be used — just adjust the amount of stock per the instructions on the rice packaging. Additionally, any vegetables can be substituted or omitted per preference. The celery can be substituted with either 1/2 of an onion or 2 shallots, the cilantro can be substituted with parsley, the lettuce can be substituted with any type of greens and any type of olives can be used.


  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 2 stalks celery (minced)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1-inch section ginger (minced)
  • ½ pound mushrooms (I used shiitake)
  • 1 teaspoon curry paste (optional) (to sub add ¼ teaspoon curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/8 teaspoon lemongrass paste, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder)
  • 5 leaves romaine lettuce 
  • 5-7 leaves sage (minced)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro (minced)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt to taste


  1. Set the rice to boil in the stock. Follow the directions per whatever rice you’re using. Set aside once done.
  2. Heat a medium-sized pan with a little bit of oil. Dice the celery and ginger, then add to pan and cook until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Cut the carrot and bell peppers (your preference on size and shape) and add to the pan with a little salt. Cook until they soften slightly (5-8 minutes). 
  3. If you have curry paste, feel free to add that in with the vegetables. If not, you can just substitute with the spices listed, or omit completely. If added, fry for a few more minutes until the spices are fragrant and the vegetables are coated evenly (2-3 minutes). 
  4. Add the cooked rice and mix in the rest of the spices. Let fry until the rice no longer sticks together and crisps a little. In the meantime, you can prep and cook the mushrooms in a separate pot or pan (next step).
  5. Heat a small pan or pot with a little olive oil. Cut the mushrooms (your preference on size and shape) and mince the sage leaves. Add both to the small pot or pan and fry with a little salt until the mushrooms are cooked through and a little crispy. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of mushrooms you use. Set aside when done. 
  6. Right before the rice finishes cooking, chop the lettuce into thin strips and mince the cilantro. Cut olives in half lengthwise. Set aside. 
  7. Turn the heat off on the rice, then add the raisins, cilantro and mushrooms. Mix and cover with a lid for a minute or two to slightly rehydrate the raisins. 
  8. Plate the fried rice on a bed of lettuce. Sprinkle the halved olives and remaining lettuce over top. 

I hope you enjoy making (and eating) this slightly different iteration of fried rice! You can also fry up some walnuts or sunflower seeds in a little olive oil and black pepper to garnish, or serve with a little tzatziki sauce. This recipe could also go well with any type of meat or seafood — I’ve made a version of this with some grilled branzino and it was delicious!

A version of this article was featured on p. 12 of the November 18, 2021 print edition 0f the Daily Nexus.