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Harissa and Orange Scented Rice with Dates

A long time ago I saw a recipe of Harissa and orange rice. And I could not, for the love of my life, recall where I saw it – was it online or in a real magazine (you know the actual paper and ink types). Was it Saveur or Williams Sonoma or some other? I had a vague memory of the ingredients and a beautiful picture in a dark setting in my mind. A deep black bowl with beautiful orangish rice. That’s it.

I was struggling to decide what to make for dinner. That is what happens when I do not plan my weekly meals ahead of time. I am sure you hear me on this one. Anywho, rice is always a good go to option for me. Everyone in the family loves it (well, almost – Dr. A says he never feels “full” after eating just rice, and I do not blame him). Rice dishes typically come together rather quickly (other recipes here, here, and here), are versatile, and you can throw in pretty much anything with rice.

Harissa and orange scented rice with dates

I had a bottle of harissa in my refrigerator from some time ago. It was bought to make a Tunisian chicken dish and didn’t use it much after that. I know it is spicy and a little goes a long way so the thought of adding some citrus and sweet flavor notes along with it started playing in my mind. The harissa adds a good bit of spice so use it sparingly depending on the heat level you can handle. Dates are such a flavorful addition to this dish and add the much needed sweetness along with the citrus notes of orange zest and juice. So armed with a vague memory or the magazine’s recipe, the picture and ingredients on hand, I embarked on this pulav making journey.

Pulav or Pilaf, for some of you who might not know, is a rice dish cooked in a seasoned broth with vegetables, meat or other additions in it. Super flavorful – Always!

Harissa and orange scented rice with dates

Harissa and orange scented rice with dates
5 from 10 votes

Harissa and Orange Scented Rice with Dates

A flavorful rice dish with spice and kick from harissa, beautiful and aromatic citrus notes from orange juice and zest along with sweetness from dates. A homerun!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup red onion finely chopped about half of a big onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon harissa paste OR to taste *See Notes
  • 1 orange,zested and then juiced
  • 1 cup long grain rice preferably white basmati
  • 6 mejdool dates diced small
  • 1 to 1.5 cup broth vegetable or chicken * See Notes
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 5 sprigs of parsley leaves stripped and roughly chopped *See Notes
  • Lime juice optional


  1. Zest the orange and juice it in a measuring cup. Add broth to make the liquid 2 cups. So, for example, if you have ¼ cup orange juice add 1 ¾ cup broth.
  2. Rinse and soak the rice in water while you get other things done.
  3. Set a heavy bottomed skillet (choose one with a lid) on medium high heat. Add oil and wait for it to get nice and shiny. Add the chopped onions and minced garlic.

  4. Reduce the heat to medium, add a pinch of salt and sauté till onions have softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the harissa and mix to combine with onions and garlic. Drain the rice and add the rice to the skillet. Mix to coat the rice with harissa and onions. Add the diced dates and let the rice toast for about a minute or two.
  6. Add the orange juice and both mixture, salt and black pepper and mix. Turn the heat to high and cover the skillet with a lid.
  7. Wait for the liquid to come to a full boil and then lower the heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes. after 15 minutes, check a spoonful of rice for doneness. Caution – HOT!
  8. Turn the heat off and let the rice stand for another 10 minutes before adding parsley and lime juice (if using). Gently fluff with a fork and serve warm as such or with yogurt.

Recipe Notes

Harissa is spicy so use according the level of heat you would like. 1 teaspoon of harissa added a good spice punch to this rice dish.

I used chicken broth to add more flavor to the rice. Use vegetable broth to make the dish vegan. And of course, you can use water.

You can use cilantro if that is what you have on hand. Or skip it. Your call!

Harissa and orange scented rice with dates

Hope you will enjoy this simple yet very flavorful dish.

Love – Vaishali.

Tools used:

Knife and chopping board

Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons

Skillet with a lid (I love this one)


A bowl to rinse and soak rice (optional)


  1. Angela

    April 7, 2018 at 7:58 am

    This sounds so delicious! I’m always looking for new recipes that my husband will actually eat and I never dare try his family’s because I’ll never make it like his mom did, lol. And id he won’t eat it, I will!

    1. Vaishali

      April 7, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      Thanks Angela! That’s funny..:). Let me know if you try it.

  2. Cheapcustomessays

    April 7, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Hi! Love harissa and this looks beautiful. Did you mix the red and green harissa? Only see what looks like the red on the platter! Thanks!! Camille

  3. Dawn - Girl Heart Food

    July 3, 2018 at 6:27 am

    5 stars
    Love harissa! I bet it adds such a yummy flavour and spice to this rice! Nice touch with the dates too 🙂

    1. CLMuileboom

      July 22, 2019 at 8:45 pm

      5 stars
      This recipe just sounds delish. I love spicy so won’t have an issue with some heat. I also love pairing spicy with some sweet, it leave a nice flavor on my pallate ;). I pinned your recipe so I can make it sometime. We eat alot of rice at home, so it’s nice to find new recipes :).

      1. Vaishali

        July 22, 2019 at 10:33 pm

        Hi CLMuileboom,
        Thanks for sharing your positive thoughts about this recipe and also for pinning. I hope you and ypur family enjoy it.

  4. Monica | Nourish & Fete

    July 8, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    5 stars
    I definitely relate to the struggle of deciding on dinner when I failed to meal plan – it always makes me kick myself for not having decided in advance! 🙂 But this meal looks absolutely wonderful, planned ahead of time or not. Harissa and orange sound like perfect complements to each other!

  5. Barbara

    October 15, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    5 stars
    I know this is an older post, but this recipe is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. Vaishali

      October 16, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Thanks for stopping by Barbara.

  6. Jaana McEntee

    July 22, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    Thank you so much! I always look for interesting vegetarian options, this looks delicious, I will definitely try!

    1. Vaishali

      July 22, 2019 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Jaana. I hope you like it!

  7. Ashli Ferguson

    July 22, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    MMMM This looks delicious – I am going to have to try that!

  8. Vanessa Cast

    July 23, 2019 at 9:58 am

    That looks so tasty! thank you for the detailed recipe, I definitely gonna give it a try

  9. Polly

    July 23, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    5 stars
    This looks so delicious! I’m getting hungry while looking at the photos! I’d give it a try hopefully this weekend. The recipe looks… challenging to follow. Wish me luck! and thank you for the recipe!

  10. Martin

    July 23, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Sounds really, really yummy. I’m no pro in the kitchen but I like to give new dishes a try! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Mr. MFC @ Morning Fresh Cent

    July 24, 2019 at 1:08 am

    This sounds like a very delicious dish. I am going to share this with the wifey. 😃

  12. Maysz

    July 24, 2019 at 2:48 am

    5 stars
    I love this Orange Scented Rice with Dates looks yum and delicious I would love to try this at home!

  13. Neil Alvin

    July 24, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Yummy! I can’t wait to try this at home. It made me hungry.

  14. Jenn ~ onehoppymomma

    July 24, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    I always love how unique your flavors are! Another to add to my “to make” list

  15. Pool Operator Talk

    July 24, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    the combination of Harissa and dates sounds amazing, this is another one of yours I am going to have to try.

  16. Quin Cl

    July 25, 2019 at 1:16 am

    I love everything with rice and this looks really delicious. I could even try this too at home. Thank you for sharing this recipe. 🙂

  17. Sarah Meh

    July 25, 2019 at 5:03 am

    5 stars
    This recipe looks so delicious to try. I am feeling peckish.

  18. Laithan

    July 25, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    5 stars
    This looks delicious, and I find it very interesting that you use dates (considering they’re so sweet).

    1. Vaishali

      July 26, 2019 at 9:45 am

      Thanks, Laithan. The sweetness of dates is a contrast to Harissa and so balances out the flavors.

  19. Unta

    July 26, 2019 at 2:39 am

    I love your recipes, always something I have never tried before. This doesn’t sound like something difficult to make, maybe I’ll try. 🙂

    1. Vaishali

      July 26, 2019 at 9:44 am

      Thank you, Unta. I love rice recipes for the same reason.

  20. anshul

    July 27, 2019 at 1:59 am

    5 stars
    Wow superb. Would love to prepare this by myself

  21. Suzanne

    July 30, 2019 at 7:09 am

    This dish looks really fragrant and delicious! Great for summer!

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