Monday 12 July 2010

Chicken Kabsa

For various reasons that may become apparent later this week, I am on a middle Eastern cooking kick at the moment.

Perhaps it's a reaction to my recent American Odyssey, who knows but I am exploring food beyond the usual baba ghanoush, falafels and borghul. I am attempting to cook for my family for a whole week without using bacon or any pork products. Unfortunately, World's Best Son, the Lima Bean has also developed my hideous reaction to pork and pork products, and we're trying to cut down on our reliance of bacon and its fatty goodness.

Enter, Kabsa.

Wiki says:

Kabsa (Arabic: كبسة‎) is a family of rice dishes that are served mostly in Saudi Arabia — where it is commonly regarded as a national dish — and the other Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Kabsa, though, is believed to be indigenous to Yemen. In places like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait the dish is popularly known as Majboos (Arabic: مجبوس‎) or Machboos (Arabic: مكبوس‎), but is served mostly in the same way.

These dishes are mainly made from a mixture of spices, rice (usually long-grain basmati), meat and vegetables. There are many kinds of Kabsa and each kind has a uniqueness about it. Pre-mixed Kabsa spices are now available under several brand names. These reduce preparation time but may have a flavour distinct from traditional Kabsa. The spices used in Kabsa are largely responsible for its taste; these are generally black pepper, cloves, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, black lime, bay leaves and nutmeg. The main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat, such as chicken, goat, lamb, camel, or sometimes beef, fish, and shrimp. In chicken machboos, a whole chicken is used. The spices, rice and meat may be augmented with almonds, pine nuts, onions and raisins. The dish can be garnished with hashu (Arabic: حشو‎) and served hot with dakkous (Arabic: دقوس‎) — home-made tomato sauce.

Meat for Kabsa can be cooked in various ways. A popular way of preparing meat is called Mandi. This is an ancient technique, whereby meat is barbecued in a deep hole in the ground that is covered while the meat cooks. Another way of preparing and serving meat for Kabsa is Mathbi, where seasoned meat is grilled on flat stones that are placed on top of burning embers. A third technique, Madghoot, involves cooking the meat in a Pressure cooker.

Alas, I don't have access to Mandi cooking holes, so I followed the recipe (see below) and when I removed the chicken from the sauce, before I added the rice, I threw it in a blazingly hot oven for about 10 mins to crisp it up. I omitted the raisins, added a splash of rose water and used slivered almonds.

Good tucker!

Chicken Kabsa

Chicken kabsa is one of the most popular dishes in Saudi Arabia. It is considered a staple.

  • 1 2/12 - 3 pound chicken, cut into eight pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 (12 ounce) can tomato puree
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • Grated rind of one orange
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • Sale and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound long grain rice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds


Sautee onion in oil until it begins to brown. Add chicken pieces, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and garlic and stir for about five minutes over low heat. Stir in three cups hot water, grated carrot, orange rind, spices, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, covered, about 20-25 minutes, until chicken is done.

Remove chicken. Set aside to keep warm. Stir rice into the liquid inthe pan, and cook, covered over low heat for about 35 - 40 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.

Put rice on a serving platter with chicken pieces arranged around the circumfrence. Toss raisins and almonds over all.

Serves: 6

recipe from


Toni said...

This reminds me that I forgot to do some research for you. I'll get on that :)

cloudcontrol said...

Mmm, that looks amazing! :)

purple goddess said...

Thanks Kamps!

And Billy, it WAS.. that's a WIKI pic, as my camera is currently being prepped for Dubai, but I hope to have a pic of my own later.

And it was one of the easiest recipes ever!

Griffin said...

Coo! Allergic to pork! Who knew?! Still, pigs everywhere will love you... not sure that's a good thing, but still.

I love chicken a lot, so will have to try this... then keep it away from my dad. He is like a tornado where food is concerned and he ain't fussy either!

When you say easy, you mean so easy a trained lunatic could do it? Or even an untrained lunatic? Because I am an untrained nutcase and dread to think what the kitchen might look like afterwards!!

purple goddess said...

griff, an untrained lunatic with ADHD on eccy could pull this off. It's a one pot dish, so pretty much no mess!