Chicken Kabsah recipe is the national dish of Saudi Arabia. A rice and meat dish topped with fried raisins and almonds and served with yoghurt and green salads for the side.
From my experience of dining out in Saudi, I found that Kabsah is not the same in every restaurant. Upon further reading, I learned that there is more than one way of making Kabsah. The recipe I am sharing today is designed to be a one-pot chicken kabsah and the ingredients are easily available. Anyone with expertise in cooking ghee rice can make this one-pot Kabsah! It is much easier than our biryanis... well I feel most of the Arabic rice recipes are much easier than our dum biryani! 🙂
What is the difference between Kabsa, Machboos, and Mandi?
Essentially they are all the same.
Considered the national dish of Saudi Arabia, a rice and meat dish served with fried raisins and almonds along with yoghurt sauce and green salads for the side. The name Kabsah is derived from the word kabs, meaning "press"—the cooking technique. The spice blend for Kabsah is not the same for Machboos or Mandi.
You can find the variations of Saudi Kabsah served as Machboos in the neighbouring Gulf States like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait. Machboos translates "to be engaged" and recipes use Baharat or Bezar spice blend.
A rice and meat dish originating from Yemen, Mandi means "dew" referring to the soft meat cooked in a tandoor oven above the pot of rice. The meat is marinated using Hawajj spice.
Ingredients used in this chicken kabsah recipe
- Rice: I have used basmati rice. You may use sella basmati but make sure you soak them overnight.
- Oil: I have used a mix of olive oil and butter. You may use any cooking oil like sunflower or canola etc.)
- Nuts: I used almonds blanched, peeled and slit. You may use store-bought sliced almonds.
- Dried fruits: Large black large raisins is the best option. I didn't have it when I made it for the blog.
- Whole spices: You will need green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon sticks, loomi (dried black lime) and bay leaf. If you don't have the black dried lime, you can use the brown.
- Veggies: You need red onions, ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, and carrots.
- tomato paste: You can skip this or replace it with ketchup or pizza sauce, etc.
- Meat: a whole chicken with or without skin, cut into 4 or 8 pieces
- Ground spices: black pepper powder, coriander powder, allspice powder or you may replace all of this with store-bought or homemade Kabsa spice mix.
- Water and salt
How to make chicken kabsah?
Keep all the ingredients listed under the recipe ready to use. We will be using only one pot to make the entire dish so use the best sized pot that you like to serve in too.
- boiling the chicken in the spiced tomato broth
- remove the chicken and broil or pan roast with butter to brown them
- cook the rice in the tomato chicken broth
- top the cooked rice with browned chicken, fried nuts and fresh herbs
Fry and Saute
Heat oil in the same pot you intend to make the kabsa. You can use any oil or ghee. Fry the almonds until golden and remove.
Fry the raisins till puffed remove and keep them aside.
Add more oil or ghee if required and then add all the whole spices. Saute until fragrant.
Next, add the chopped onions, and saute until translucent.
Now, add the ginger-garlic paste, and saute until the raw smell of garlic wades off (~ 5mins)
chopped tomatoes and tomato paste goes in.
Add the grated carrot and mix well (~ 5 mins)
Add the cut chicken along with all the spice powders and salt.
Boil and cook
Cook covered on medium flame until chicken turns white and oil surfaces (~10 mins)
Add enough water (2 to 2 and ¼ cup) and adjust the salt. Cover and cook on low until chicken is cooked completely (~15 mins)
To prevent overcooked mushy rice, it is better to add less water in the beginning. So I find it safe to boil the chicken in 2 cups of water and then when we add the rice, I adjust as needed. If you had NOT soaked the rice, it may need more water and if you soaked too long, then lesser. The rice will get cooked in steam even after switching off, so you must let it sit covered for a few minutes before you open it.
Remove the chicken pieces and keep them aside.
Add the drained rice, more hot water if required and adjust the salt. (make sure there is water little less than an inch above the grains)
Cook on medium to high flame until you can see the grains on the surface (~ 5 mins). Reduce the flame to the lowest.
Place a foil or clean kitchen cloth and then cover with the tight lid. Slide a flat pan under the pot - this prevents the burning of food and distributes heat evenly. Cook for 10 minutes on the lowest flame. Switch off and don't disturb for another 10 minutes.
roast and serve
Take the chicken pieces and grill or broil them in the oven or stovetop with some butter.
Open the pot, and stir the rice.
Serve Kabsa topped with the grilled chicken pieces and the fried almonds and raisins along with salads and yoghurt.
One Pot Chicken Kabsah
- 1½ cups basmati rice washed and soaked for 30 mins, drained completely
- ¼ cup oil olive oil or sunflower or canola etc.
- ⅓ cup almonds blanched, peeled and slit
- ¼ cup black raisins fried till puffed
- 4 green cardamom
- 4 to 6 cloves
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 loomi dried black lime
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 medium-sized red onions diced finely
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 300 grams ripe tomatoes chopped roughly (2 large)
- 60 grams carrot grated (half of a small carrot)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 800 grams whole chicken with skin or skinless (cut into 4 or 8 pieces)
- ½ tablespoon black pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon allspice powder see notes
- salt to taste
- 2¼ cups water see notes
- Heat the oil in a wide-mouthed and deep pot with a flat heavy bottom on a medium flame.
- Fry the prepped almonds until golden brown and remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
- Fry the raisins till puffed remove and keep them aside.
- Add all the whole spices and saute until fragrant.
- Add the chopped onions, and saute until translucent.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste, and saute until the raw smell of garlic wades off. ( 5mins)
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and grated carrot and mix well. ( 5 mins)
- Add the cut chicken along with all the spice powders and enough salt.
- Cook covered on medium flame until chicken turns white and oil surfaces. (10 mins)
- Add at least 2 cups of water and adjust the salt.
- Cover and cook on low until chicken is cooked completely. (15 mins)
- Remove the chicken pieces and keep them aside.
- Add the drained rice, more hot water if required and adjust the salt. (make sure there is water above the grains)
- Cook on medium to high flame until you can see the grains on the surface. (5 mins)
- Reduce the flame to the lowest.
- Place a foil or clean kitchen cloth and then cover with a tight lid.
- Slide a flat pan under the pot - this prevents the burning of food and distributes heat evenly.
- Cook for 10 minutes on the lowest flame.
- Switch off and don't disturb for another 10 minutes.
- Take the chicken pieces and grill or broil them in the oven or stovetop with some butter.
- Serve Kabsa topped with the grilled chicken pieces and the fried almonds and raisins along with salads and yoghurt.