Sunday, 1 August 2010

Saudi Arabia - Chicken Kabsa

Saudi Cuisine

I'm a big fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, so I was really looking forward to getting stuck in to a traditional Saudi dish.  After a bit of research online, I came to the conclusion that the staple of Saudi Arabia is a dish called Kabsa.  Not dissimilar to Uzbek plov but with lighter ingredients, such as orange, and not as much oil.  The recipe I used for this was from a website called

The ingredients

There was nothing unusual in this dish and I already had all of the spices in my cupboard, so it cost next to nothing to make.

The main ingredients are:

Chicken, which should be cut up into bite-sized mouthfuls.
Two onions, which should be chopped up finely.
Two carrots, which should be grated.
Orange zest
Four cloves of garlic, chopped (although this might have been overkill)
Tomato puree
Two tomatoes, chopped finely
Four cloves, four cardamom pods, a cinnamon stick, broken up
As much rice as you need for four people
Almonds, which should be cut into slices and raisins (I used sultanas) to scatter on the meal at the end.
Salt and pepper to taste.


I started by heating oil in a large saucepan and adding the chopped onions, letting them fry for a few minutes until they'd started to turn brown.

Once the onions have browned a bit, I added the chicken, garlic, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and stirred these together for about five minutes until the chicken had turned white on the outside.  The recipe requires the addition of orange zest and, not wanting to waste the juice of the orange, I marinated the chicken in orange juice and then added this to the mixture when I added the chicken.  I don't know whether or not this was a good idea and the whole thing certainly tasted very orange-y, so I guess it's a matter of taste. 

After the chicken had fried a bit, I added the grated carrot and all of the spices and some salt and pepper.  This idea of this dish is that the chicken will cook with the spices for about twenty minutes or so.  After twenty minutes, you remove the chicken and add the rice, so that the rice cooks in the liquid of the Kabsa.  I must admit, I struggled a bit with the idea of removing the chicken at all, but I decided to go with the recipe in the end and kept the chicken warm in a metal contained with a foil covering. 

The rice should be long-grain - I used regular long-grain rice, but you could also use basmati.  To prepare the rice, I washed it in a sieve, which I think softens the rice and makes it easier to cook when you add it to the pot. 

The result was pretty delicious and I'll definitely be adding it to my international cuisine Smörgåsbord

(<-- After the chicken has been removed and the rice has been added)

(<-- Boil the rice for about twenty minutes)

(Chicken Kabsa, don't forget to scatter with almonds and raisins, or sultanas -->)

Image credits:

All photos were taken by me. 
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