Saudi Arabian chicken kabsa

Posted: October 6, 2013 in Middle Eastern
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My family lived in Saudi Arabia for 29 years before my father retired in 2007. I was born there, raised there, and even after 13 New England winters, I still prefer the monotony of the 105-degree desert climate to four seasons. However, Saudi Arabia is one of those countries that doesn’t grant citizenship to those born within its borders, so the next chance I’ll get  over the next 13 winters to visit is if Jimmy suddenly ditches the Brazilian music research for Saudi Arabian folk songs. Not that I mind. Living outside the Kingdom has many perks, such as getting to photograph their traditional chicken kabsa dish with a glass of red wine.

Join me in my nostalgia with a bite of chicken kabsa, whose recipe I adapted from here.

1/8 cup butter
1.5 lbs chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato puree
3 chopped tomatoes
3 medium carrots, grated
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1 pinch ground cumin
1 pinch ground coriander
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamoms
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
juice of 1/2 lime
4 cups hot water
1 chicken stock cube
2 1/4 cups basmati rice (don’t rinse or soak this)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

*Kabsa usually adds raisins during the last ten minutes of cooking, but I ommitted it from mine, since I hate cooked raisins.
1 Melt butter in a large stock pot, casserole or dutch oven. Add chicken pieces, onion & garlic & sauté until onion is tender. Stir in tomato puree & simmer over a low heat for a couple of minutes.
2 Add tomatoes, carrots, cloves, all the spices & salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the water & Maggi cube.
3 Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add rice to the pot & stir carefully. (if you’re wanting to brown the chicken in the oven – remove it from the pot now & place in the preheated oven).
4 Re-Cover & simmer for 35 – 40 minutes – adding the raisins for the last 10 minutes – or until rice is tender.
5 Place the rice on a large serving dish, topped with the chicken & garnished with almonds. Serve with a fresh mixed salad – preferably with a little lime vinaigrette. Saudis like their Kabsa with a hot sauce called ‘Shattah’.
N.B: You can also ‘finish’ the chicken pieces off in the oven by cooking them for 25 – 30 minutes at 180 C whilst the rice is cooking. (but don’t let them become dry).


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