Arabian Kabsa !!

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Kabsa- the national dish of Saudi Arabia is probably the most popular rice praparation through out Arab countries , believed to have originated in Yemen. Though known Kabsa in Saudi , it is otherwise known as Makbous/ Machbous/ Majbous in the Gulf region ( Iran , Iraq , Qatar , Kuwait , Jordan , UAE ) .

Just like the variation in name , the taste differs from region to region mailny because of the uses of spices . The technique of cooking varies too .Though look alike our very own Biriyani , it does differ in taste !! I have seen many recipes , that did not make Kabsa at all !! Those are more like biriyani . Kabsa is milder in spices and the spices that are used most is Black pepper , all spice , clove , cinnamon , cardamom , saffron , nutmeg and dried lemon powder or the whole dried lemon ,called loomi . The spices are grounded together and named Baharat !! Nuts ( specially almond and pine nuts ) and dried fruits are used as garnish .
In some part of Middle East , cumin and coriander powder is also used in the baharat , but the amount is too little . And not to forget tomato paste and puree is one of the most important ingredients of Kabsa !!!
I have tried to make it authentic way !! Hope you’d like it too.

As I said earlier , the technique of cooking kabsa varies . “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, madghūt, involves cooking the meat in a Pressure cooker” ( Wikipedia).

And just like that every house has it own way of cooking it . Today I’ll share two methods , whichever you find easier . 🙂

Ingredients :

1 baby chicken , cut in 4 pieces ( weigh around 1 kilo)
2 cups of basmati rice ( soaked in water for at least 45 minutes)
1 cup of chopped tomato
2 tbl spoon tomato paste ( comes in can , you will find it in super markets)
1 and 1/4 th cup sliced onion
1 tbl spoon finely grated garlic ( so fine as seems like paste)
4 and half cups of water or chicken stock
Salt to taste
1 chicken flavor bouillon/ chicken cube ( if using water)
1/2 cup of oil ( you can use 1/4 th cup butter and 1/4 th cup oil mixed together)
1/2 tbl spoon orange zest ( if you can’t find dried lemon for the kabsa spice , take 1 tbl spoon)
Nuts ( almonds , cashew, pine nuts) and raisins for garnishing
Baharat or kabsa spice ( take the whole amount mentioned below)

Baharat / Kabsa Spice :

1/2 tbl spoon black pepper
1/2 tbl spoon all spice
1 tea spoon clove ( around 8/9)
1 tea spoon cardamom ( around 8 )
1/2 tea spoon cinnamon powder
1/2 tea spoon nutmeg powder
1/2 tea spoon paprika
1/2 tea spoon red chili powder
1/2 tea spoon ginger powder(if you are not using ginger powder substitute it with 1 tea spoon ginger paste with other ingredients )
1/2 tea spoon dried lemon powder*
2 bay leaves
1/2 tea spoon saffron

Crush them into a fine powder and we will be apply whole amount in this recipe . 🙂

If you can’t find loomi or dried lemon , please substitute it with 1 tbl spoon orange/ malta zest . Orange zest gives a wonderful aroma and adds flavor as well .

Procedure : # 1

1. Soak the rice in water for at least 45 minutes before cooking .

2. Heat oil and add the sliced onion . Fry them until brown . Don’t over brown it . Just light golden brown . Now add the chicken pieces and keep frying . Add the chopped tomato and tomato paste . Add the Kabsa spice . Now add the grated garlic . Mix well . Add the orange zest , salt .Now add 4 and 1/2 ( half) cup of water or chicken stock to the chicken. Add a chicken cube if using water and let it cook for 20 minutes with lid on .

3. After 20 minutes , remove the chicken pieces from the gravy . Now after 20 minutes there should be around 4 cups of water by now . This is something you have to eye ball . Add the rice . For per cup of rice around 2 cups of water is needed . So there must be 4 cups of water in the pot . So if you think you need a little more water to cook the rice properly , you can add but don’t use more than 4 cups of water . That would be too much ending in mushy kabsa . Cover the lid and cook the rice like pulao until the water got absorbed . Don’t stir until the water dries out . When the water dried out just stir with light hand without breaking the rice . Now keep it on low flame or Dum .
What I do , I use double boiler method , where I put the pot of rice on the same sized vessel , filled with water . The steam will work as the “DUm”.

4. In the mean time broil the chicken pieces in the preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 FH . If not using oven , just fry them in little butter in a grill or frying pan .

6. In another skillet fry the dried nuts ( almonds , cashew , raisins ) in butter . Don’t burn them . try to fry them separately .

7. Transfer the rice to a serving plate . Place the chicken pieces on top and serve with tomato chutney like thing , named “Dakkous” .

Procedure # 2 :

For those who canot eye ball the water , this is for you .
For this you need to boil the chicken pieces with black pepper , bay leaf and few cloves . Remove the chicken pieces from the stock and starin and reserve the stock to use in the cooking .

Now follow the # 1 procedure mentioned above except don’t add 4 and half cups of water . In this case add 4 cups of water ( chicken stock we got while boiling the chicken) to 2 cups of rice . Just before adding the stock , remove the chicken pieces from the gravy and broil it or fry it as it is mentioned above procedure .

Notes :

1. You can process dried lemon at home . Boil the lemon in salt water then dry it in sun heat .
2. If you don’t find all spice , omit . All spice is used in Yemeni version of Kabsa and not an essential ingredient in Saudi Kabsa .
3. Please Try to use a non stick utensil for cooking in order to avoid got stuck on the bottom .

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One response to “Arabian Kabsa !!

  1. Lovely recipes and great website! Please can you post a recipe for proper ‘purano dhaka’ style kachhi biryani – don’t see this in your ‘Rice section’

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