Rez 3a djej (Oriental rice with chicken) is a famous Lebanese dish that is made mostly in occasions or for the Sunday family lunch. It generally comes topped with roasted pine nuts, but some people add other kernels like cashews or almonds as well.
With the economic crisis that has hit Lebanon, prices have soared everywhere and the KG of pine nuts has ridiculously increased to 200,000 LBP and sometimes even more. But the truth is, regardless of whether you can afford to add pine nuts to rez 3a djej or not, it has no value whatsoever and doesn’t add anything in terms of taste or texture to the dish. Most people also mix the nuts with the rice, so they equally lose whatever crunch they had.
My advice is to replace pine nuts with roasted almonds. Plain and simple. Almonds are not very expensive to start with – they cost about 50,000 LBP per KG. And they taste really good with rice, because roasting them brings their flavor out. And please, for the love of good food, DO NOT mix them with the rice because they lose their crunch as well as their taste. Just put a small amount of vegetable oil in a pan and roast them slowly on low heat. Once done, leave them on a tissue to dry the oil, and only add them on top of the rice platter – or as a side that people can add in their own plates.
Voila, now you have a great tasting dish that is best enjoyed with either a lettuce/lemon/oil salad or pickled cucumbers. Bon appétit!