Chicken Al Kabsa


The Traditional and Renowned Saudi Kabsa

Traditional Saudi Al Kabsa

Al Kabsa - The Traditional Saudi Rice

Kabsa, also typically known as Al-Kabsa, is believed to be the national dish of Saudi Arabia that is also quite popular throughout the world especially in the Gulf regions. This dish primarily constitutes of rice and meat that is slowly braised in a pan of sauces made with an exotic spice mix. This gives this dish a deep flavour, appealing texture and makes the meat juicy, soft and tender. It is the reason why people ultimately fall in love with this dish. The bright orange-red colour and the majestic aroma of this dish owes to the addition of premium quality Saffron. This recipe can be enjoyed during the weekends or at family gatherings. The best way is to prepare it with lamb however, you can also use chicken or any other kind of meat of your choice.

Serving size: The recipe yields 8 servings.

Al Kabsa Ingredients

  • Premium quality Powdered Saffron (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Ground Cardamom (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Ground Allspice (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Ground Cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Ground White Pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Whole Lime Powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Onion (1 piece)
  • Butter (1/4 cup)
  • Garlic cloves (6 pieces)
  • 1 whole chicken (3 pounds)
  • Tomato Puree (1/4 cup)
  • Undrained Canned Tomatoes (14.5 ounces or 1 can)
  • Carrots (3 pieces)
  • Cloves (2 pieces)
  • Ground Nutmeg (1 pinch)
  • Ground Cumin (1 pinch)
  • Ground Dried Coriander (1 pinch)
  • Hot water (3 ¼ cups)
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt (according to taste)
  • Chicken bouillon cube (1 piece)
  • Long Grain Basmati Rice (2 ¼ cups)
  • Raisins (1/4 cup)
  • Toasted Almonds (1/4 cup)

Chicken Al Kabsa Preparation

  • Ground all the spices in a pestle and mortar if you do not have them already in a powdered form. Now prepare the spice mix by mixing powdered saffron with ground cinnamon, cardamom, white pepper, allspice and lime powder in a bowl.
  • Peel the carrots’ skin using a peeler and then grate them before cooking.
  • Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic cloves and put them aside.
  • Cut one whole chicken carefully into eight pieces.
  • Wash the rice once just before cooking.
Cooking Instructions
  • Begin cooking by taking a large pot and add butter into it over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the finely chopped onions and minced garlic and saute them until they get softened and become translucent for about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Once they are done add the chicken pieces and fry them until they become golden brown over medium-high heat. You have to cook the chicken for 10 minutes to get the required colour.
  • Add this point, add tomato puree, undrained canned tomatoes, grated carrots, salt, freshly ground black pepper and the spice mix into the pot. Give it a good stir and cook it for almost 3 to 4 minutes until the mixture is well-combined.
  • When the sauce is cooked, pour in some hot water and one chicken bouillon cube. Mix it until it is completely dissolved.
  • Wait until the liquid starts boiling. At this stage, set the stove to low. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked.
  • After 30 minutes remove the lid, add rice into it and stir it gently until the rice is well combined with the sauce.
  • Again, cover the pot with the lid and wait for about 25 minutes or until the rice absorbs almost all the liquid.
  • Add raisins into the pot. If there is still some liquid present cover it again for 5 to 10 minutes. If there is not sufficient liquid in the pot, add some hot water and cover it with the lid.
  • Remove the lid when the rice becomes completely dried and cooked. Serve it on a plate with the pieces of chicken on top. Add roasted almonds for garnishing.
Some Useful tips
  1. Normally before preparing a rice dish, we used to wash rice properly and soak them in water for about 10 minutes to decrease the cooking time as the rice already absorbs some water while being soaked. However, in this traditional Arabic recipe, we do not want to make our rice mushy. Therefore, do not soak rice in water before preparing Kabsa. Also, wash it just before cooking so that the rice will not absorb much water.
  2. Do not skip Saffron in the spice mix as it is necessary to give the dish its signature, colour, aroma and to enhance its flavours.