Lesan Asfour Bel Lahma (Egyptian Orzo-Beef Casserole): لسان عصفور باللحمة

“Lesan Asfour Bel Lahma” or Egyptian Orzo-Beef Casserole is an economic crowd pleaser and one pot wonder of creamy orzo and melt-in-your-mouth beef cubes. All is smothered in a broth-enriched tomato sauce, spiked with Egyptian spice blend.

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What is Egyptian Lesan Asfour Bel Lahma (Orzo-Beef Casserole aka)?  

Orzo-beef Casserole is one of the many economic dishes, which Egyptians have excelled in creating. It uses inexpensive cuts of meat and can feed a large meat-eater crowd on a budget.

Orzo-beef, or Lesan Asfour Bel Lahma, is slowly cooked meat cubes baked with orzo in a broth-enriched tomato sauce.

Chuck Roast is an inexpensive beef cut that is great for stews and slowly cooked dishes.
Chuck Roast is an inexpensive beef cut and an economic choice that is great for stews and slowly cooked dishes.

What is “lean asfour” aka orzo?

Orzo is a type of pasta that is so small that Middle Eastern people call it Lesan Asfour which translates to bird tongue as its shape resembles the latter.

Orzo Pasta is a small size pasta that has a oblong shape
Orzo Pasta is a small size pasta that has a oblong shape.

How to cook the perfect “Lesan Asfour Bel Lahma aka orzo-beef casserole?

Creating opulent flavors with modest ingredients is made possible by mastering the small steps that lead to a dish with splendid flavors. I listed down here the detailed step-by-step recipe and included all the success secrets, so you can make it in your kitchen and savor it with your loved ones.

1- Toast the orzo

In a heavy bottom pan, heat 2 tablespoons ghee and 1 tablespoon unflavored oil, such as canola, on medium heat. Lower the heat and add 1 cup of orzo pasta. Stir the orzo in the hot fat until the orzo has a medium amber color.

Don’t walk away from the pan so the orzo doesn’t burn and become bitter. When the orzo has a deep amber color, remove it with a slotted spoon and transfer to the a deep and heat-resistant baking dish.

2- Cook the beef stew 

Start by drying the beef stew with kitchen absorbent paper, and let the beef cubes come to room temperature. Sprinkle the beef cubes with salt and pepper and then add them in batches to the sizzling ghee mixed with oil.

Add the ghee and oil to the same pan, or dutch oven, you used to toast the orzo. Don’t overcrowd the pan with the beef, so they don’t steam instead of browning.

Sear the meat on all sides, sprinkle the meat with the Egyptian spice blend and then add chopped onions, garlic, and the hot water.

Let the meat cook for 2 – 2 1/2 hours on low heat, until the meat is fork tender and the broth is reduced.

3- Assemble the dish

When the meat is cooked through and the broth is reduced yet still simmering, add the toasted orzo, 1/2 cup of tomato pasta sauce mixed, and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.

Let the broth and the orzo boil 5 minutes in the hot broth until it is cooked al dente.Don’t overcook the orzo so it doesn’t collapse when it is baked.

Transfer everything in the heavy bottom pan to a deep baking dish, add 1/4 cup of fresh parsley or a few sprigs of oregano.

Adorn the top of the baking dish with some tomato slices. Drizzle some olive oil or diced butter on top of the tomatoes and bake it in a preheated oven at 375 F° for 20-25 minutes until the tomato are caramelized, the orzo is cooked to perfection and the beef is fork tender.

4- Serve

Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the dish and serve the Orzo-Beef casserole hot, next to some fresh salad.

This Egyptian casserole or Lesan Asfour Bel Lahma is similar to a Greek dish with the name of GIOUVETSI. It doesn’t surprise me if there is a sort of mutual  adaptation with the Greek dish, given that Egypt hosted a significantly sizable Greek community that lived  in Egypt for centuries.

Egyptian orzo-beef casserole beats the inflation

  • Economic

During the current inflation, we are looking for creative solutions to reduce our grocery bill. Dishes like this orzo-beef casserole feeds a crowd on a budget as it uses an inexpensive meat cut that slowly cooks to yield a tender protein that melts in your mouth.

  • One Pot Wonder

Orzo-Beef Pasta saves money as well as time. It is a one pot wonder, so no plethora of dishes to scrub or wash. If you are using a Dutch oven, it can also go in the oven, so no need to transfer the orzo and meat to a deep baking dish. You can simply serve it straight out of the Dutch oven.

Dutch Oven is excellent for making stews and slow cooked dishes
Dutch Oven is excellent for making stews and slow cooked dishes

You might also like:

Check out more Egyptian pasta recipes on my blog

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Egyptian Orzo-Beef Casserole:




To toast the orzo

  • 1 -2  tablespoons ghee
  • 1 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 bag orzo, 400 grams approx

To cook the meat & make the broth

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, optional
  • 500 grams chuck roast (fat trimmed), or top round, cubed to 1/2″ x 1/2″
  • 1 teaspoon freshly crushed pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, preferably Himalayan salt 
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4  garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 -2 teaspoons boharat or seven spices (meat spices)
  • 6 cups hot water, or enough water to cover the meat by 1 inch
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup tomato pasta sauce or Tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, basil or oregano

To Garnish

  • Fresh basil leaves, parsley, or a sprig of oregano


  1. Toast the orzo: In a Dutch oven, or a heavy bottom pan, add the oil on medium low heat. Once hot, add the orzo and stir the orzo in the hot oil, until it becomes deep golden brown. Don’t walk away, as the orzo could burn so quickly and become bitter. Once it reaches the deep amber color, turn off the heat, remove the orzo with a slotted spoon and set it aside, until you are ready to assemble the casserole.

  2. Prepare the meat: Dry the beef cubes with kitchen absorbent paper let the beef cubes come to room temperature and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper right before adding it to the hot dutch pan.

  3. Sear the meat : Leave the beef in the same heavy bottom pan where you toasted the orzo, add the ghee or butter and heat on medium heat. Once it sizzles, add the beef cubes in batches and brown them until they are nicely seared and have a golden curst.

  4. Cook the meat and make the broth: Add the boharat (spice blend), chopped onions and garlic, and hot water, and let the meat cook for two to two and half hours until the beef cubes are pork tender and the broth is rich enough. If the water runs low, add some during the cooking. As a rule of thumb, 1 cup of orzo needs 1 cup of water. When the meat is fully cooked and the broth is reduced, add the toasted orzo, the tomato sauce (or juice), and tomato paste. Stir to dissolve the tomato sauce and paste. Let the orzo boil for no longer than 3-4 minutes until it is cooked al dente. Avoid overcooking the orzo.

  5. Assemble the dish: In a deep ceramic or a baking dish, empty the dutch oven in the baking dish. Toss in chopped fresh leaves of either basil, parsley, or a spring of oregano. Arrange slices of tomatoes on top of the dish, drizzle some oil or diced butter on top of the tomatoes. Bake in a preheated oven to 375 for 20 minutes.

  6. Garnish and serve: Sprinkle some fresh parsley,  basil or a sprig of oregano on top and serve hot along with a green salad.

  7. Store: Keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for three days.



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Former diplomat | Travel & Food Writer | Stauch advocate of Culinary Diplomacy. Find more here: https://cheznermine.com/about/

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