This post is on an Arabian-style chicken dish with flavorful rice, together form a complete meal for your dinner or lunch, known as Chicken Kabsa. You can also find many variations of this mouthwatering recipe performed by nearby countries. It is exotic Saudi rice served with almonds, green salads, raisins, citrusy yogurt sauce, and parsley springs. There is no any single process to prepare Kabsa’h, popular in Middle Eastern nations.
What is in the Name of the Dish?
The Title is on the term 'kabs', which means ‘press’. It is a technique used to cook Kabsa. It is made as a mix of dried whole lime powder, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, saffron, ground white pepper, and ground cardamom.
Kabsa spice is the main ingredient of this dish. It is so popular that you can also buy this spice mix from the market (especially Middle Eastern stores) if available. Otherwise, the best option is to prepare its spice mix at your home. You can find some variations of Saudi Kabsa’h in the neighboring Gulf States like Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, and Qatar as 'Machboos'. It means ‘to be engaged’.
Mandi originates from Yemen prepared from meat and rice. It means ‘dew’ that depicts soft meat cooked inside the tandoor-oven on top of a rice pot. Kabsa differs from Mandi and Machboos in their spice mix and adding shredded carrot on the former recipe than the other two.
You need to spend about 40 or more minutes to cook this dish as per servings in total. It includes preparation as well as cooking time. After all, it is the slow cooking process! It is necessary to enhance the taste and flavor of the recipe. Ingredients are added one by one in a pot in layers so that the flavors will blend well.
Rice cooked in a broth of chicken having a tomato base, and layering is via grilled chicken. Avoid the bottom rice overcooking due to the remaining heat after switching off. Gently use a large spoon to dig deep on one side and get the bottom rice to the top.
For smoking, prefer a piece of hot charcoal uncovered with anything like silver in a heat-resistant bowl placed in the middle of the dish. Further, pour 1tbsp of ghee ( or olive oil, melted butter, any non-fragrant light oil) on it. Once the smoking start rising, use the aluminum foil and a tight lid to cover it and leave it for about 3-5 minutes to let Kabsa rice attain the smoky flavors.
Prefer to use long rice like Basmati.
You can soak the rice in water to cook it in less time with ease.
Use large pieces of chicken or simply 6 pieces of one Chicken.
You can cook the chicken in stages like first on the pan and then grilling.
To give a nice twist to the flavor, you can add orange zest together with shredded carrots.
Sultanas (golden raisins) and fried nuts are used in ghee to add richness to the top of the Kabsa.
You can make dashes on the chicken pieces so that they can easily absorb flavors to the fullest to the inside.
You cannot replace the grated carrots with capsicum or cubed potatoes.
Coat the chicken using some oil to avoid dryness, pre-heat oven for 10-15 minutes, and grill the chicken with flipping in between.
Heat the oil, turn off the stove, and put sultanas or dry nuts on it to fry them and avoid overcooking.
9 Tried and Tested Facts that you must know
You could make a restaurant-style Chicken Kabsa in your home. Here are some points for you to remember about the dish;
a) The dish consists of a high volume of sodium, cholesterol, and calories. Yet proteins, carbs, and total fat in lesser amounts.
b) You can use some alternatives if you do not have the base ingredients of the recipe.
c) You can serve this dish with a yogurt salad, including cucumber and/or onion.
d) The crispy outer layer on the chicken is due to its skin, but tenderness is still there inside it. You can enjoy the true flavor only by using bone-in chicken. You can also use dry lime powder or whole dry lime while preparing the broth or yellow lime as an alternative.
e) You can prepare Kabsa by pairing rice with fish, beef, camel, lamb, goat, or chicken meats.
f) Generally, chicken releases water while cooking, also carrot and tomato possess moisture. Hence, add the water carefully to prepare the rice to avoid overcooking mushy rice. So first boil the chicken in water and then focus on adding water to cook the rice. Add hot water at certain intervals if needed for better cooking of rice. The rice will still get some help in cooking from the steam after switching it off. So let the dish remain covered for a few minutes before serving.
g) If you do not like to add tomato paste, add 1 tbsp of sugar with two large chopped tomatoes to feel the real chicken Kabsa flavors.
h) Skin-on and bone-in large chicken pieces are simmered using a broth that contains tomatoes and some flavorful spices. Chicken is further removed for grilling, yet the broth can be used to cook the rice.
i) Many people serve the dish with Daqqus (Arabian spicy tomato sauce) made using hot red peppers.
A large chicken, 2 kg. approx.
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 chili pepper (optional if you like it spicy)
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp of vinegar
1 tbsp of honey
Salt to taste
5 tbsp of butter
2 carrots, 300 g.
1 large onion, 100 g.
2 cloves of garlic
¼ cup of oil, 60 ml
3 cups of uncooked rice, basmati type, 360 g.
6 cups of chicken broth, 1.5 l
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp of turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
½ cup of raisins, 80 g.
½ cup of pistachios (or any nut of your choice), 80 g.
Salt to taste
For the rice
Rinse chicken under running water; pat it dry and place it inside a bowl while you prepare the marinade.
Peel the garlic and crush it.
In a small bowl mix: crushed garlic, cumin powder, black pepper, ground coriander, ground cardamom, tomato paste, vinegar, honey, and salt to taste. Fluff it with a fork until you make sure it's fully incorporated.
Rub the chicken with the dressing on the outside, over the skin, and under it (being careful not to break the skin).
Rub the inside of the chicken with salt. Let the chicken rest in this mixture for at least eight hours.
After this time remove the chicken from the refrigerator and put it inside a refractory tray. Put the butter at room temperature on the chicken, and with the help of a kitchen brush, distribute it evenly. If you want your chicken to be perfectly browned, you should remove it from the oven every hour and apply a new layer of butter.
Cover the chicken tray with aluminum foil.
Bake chicken over low heat, 120°C/260°F, for about three to four hours, until golden brown. In the last half hour of cooking, remove the foil so the chicken browns completely.
While the chicken is baking, prepare the rice. Peel the carrots, and grate them on the coarse side of the cheese grater. Peel the onion and chop it finely. Peel the garlic and crush them.
Turn the stove to high heat, place a medium saucepan on the stove, and pour the oil into the saucepan. When the oil is bubbling, add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté for about three minutes until the onion turns translucent.
Add the washed rice and grated carrots. Cook them for about three more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Immediately add the broth, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, turmeric, cumin powder, and salt to taste.
Let the rice cook over high heat for about ten minutes until all the surface water has evaporated.
Next, add the raisins. Put a lid on the pot, and lower the heat to a minimum. Cook covered for about ten more minutes until the rice is soft and done.
When the chicken is ready, remove it from the oven, and cut it into pieces as you like. We serve two trays, and we chop it in two.
To serve, arrange a bed of rice on a platter, sprinkle the pistachios on top. And place the chicken on top of the rice. You can decorate with lemon slices and some mint leaves.