Made a small batch of Baharat spice mix and used the highly recommended Sella basmati rice to make my already popular Bahraini Chicken Machboos but this time with added veggies. Serve this Machboos with chilled laban (buttermilk) for lunch or dinner. Am I a fan of Sella rice now? Hmmm, I prefer the regular basmati but Sella has better points for being a low GI grain.
I never expected my Bahraini Chicken Machboos to become so popular that I regret not trying with Baharat spice mix. I was not keen to buy box of Baharat. But you know, I am a curious cat, so sneaked around the internet to find out all about it.
My first batch of baharat was used in the above image of chicken machboos. Here, I used Kashmiri red chilli powder instead of paprika powder. As you can see from the other pictures, they don't make any difference in the colour of the rice. So you can replace paprika with Kashmiri red chilli powder. I know we Indians, don't have much to do with paprika!
How to use the Baharat spice mix?
Apart from making machboos, I have used them as a marinade or dry rub for chicken or meat.
Sella Basmati Machboos
I also had dozen of recommendations to try Sella Basmati rice to make machboos. I thought it was a brand name like India Gate, Tilda etc. But when I looked up it, I realized it is a par-boiled version of basmati. Wow, seems like I was living in a cave. 🙊 I found my favourite rice brand, India Gate had their own Sella basmati. My package arrived but it had nothing printed in English (everything except the title was in Arabic) My dear Arab friend, Farida helped me translate every word. Since then, I have been testing Sella basmati Machboos adding veggies and I am finally happy to say that the pack instructions didn't work for me but I do have a perfect sella rice machboos recipe. 😊
I am not the only one who struggled to get perfectly cooked sella rice that is not overcooked to mush or undercooked to hard grains. It is known for being a cook's nightmare. But the secret is in the SOAKING! The pack does mention that you need to soak for 2 to 3 hours, which requires a bit of planning and reminder setting etc. But even then the water to-rice ratio was not black and white like regular basmati. If you are an expert in cooking rice, then you will manage to get to the good side of Sella soon. I am glad I found a very convenient method - Soak Sella rice overnight without rinsing.
I soak the sella rice without washing in room temp water before I go to bed. The next day, I rinse and soak in water again. An hour before I start the lunch prep, I drain and leave the rice in the colander until needed. This way, I had to use only 2 cups minus 2tbsp of water for every cup of sella basmati rice, similar to my original recipe.
Chicken Machboos with Baharat & Sella Basmati Rice
- 1 tablespoon ghee or butter
- 1 medium onion sliced thinly
- 3 to 5 green chillies slit
- 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 600-800 grams skinless whole chicken (6 to 8 pieces or halved) pat dried and scored (a few shallow cut lines)
- 1 tablespoon Baharat spice mix see notes
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 dried black lime loomi, pierced
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes quartered
- 2½ cup hot water reserve 2 tablespoon and add only if required
- 1 carrot large roundels
- 1 potato large roundels (or more carrots)
- 1¼ cup sella basmati rice soaked for 5 to 8 hours
- Fresh coriander leaves chopped
- Juice of half a lime
- Salt to taste
- olive oil or butter to roast the chicken
- Heat butter or ghee in a deep wide pot on medium flame.
- Add finely diced onion, and green chillies and saute until onions turn golden.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute for a minute.
- Add the chicken along with spice powders and cook on high until all of the chicken pieces turn white.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until they break down into the liquid. Meanwhile, prepare hot water.
- Add the hot water and salt to taste. Bring this to a boil. Cover and cook on a medium flame for 10 minutes.
- Open and add the chopped carrots and potatoes if used and bring to boil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes and chicken are cooked through.
- Remove the cooked chicken pieces and the vegetables using a slotted spoon and transfer them to a greased skillet.
- Stir in a fistful of chopped coriander leaves, lime or lemon juice, drained rice and salt to taste.
- Bring this to boil on a high flame until you can see the grains on the surface. Reduce the flame to the lowest. Slide a heat diffuser or flat pan underneath, cover the pot with foil and then the lid. Let it cook for another 15 mins. (If using an oven to roast, this is the time you may preheat to grill or broiler)
- Open and carefully bring the bottom rice to the top using a rubber spatula. Cover and let it cook for 5 minutes and switch off.
- Meanwhile, sprinkle some baharat spice over the cooked chicken and veggies and roast them on the stovetop or oven with a drizzle of olive oil or butter.
- You may place back the roasted chicken and vegetables on top of the rice and serve or transfer the rice to a platter and place it over it. Serve chicken machboos with salad and laban or yoghurt.