Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Saudi Arabian Kabsa (Chicken and Rice)

Saudi Arabian Kabsa_menumusings.com
A while back, my son's World History class had to do a project where each student selected a different region of the world, then brought a food representing that area.  You've probably already guessed that this is the same son who has "volunteered" my food services before (without any thought or consultation with me, might I add).  So anyway, he comes home and happily announces that I am to make a food from the Middle East.  WHAT?!  That was about 3 seconds before I contemplated wringing his neck.  Let's review some facts:  I've never been to the Middle East.  I have no idea what people in the Middle East eat.  There are no Middle Eastern restaurants around us for me to even go try the food!  That means I'm going to strictly have to go off of pure research for this one.  At this point, my face is in my hands and I'm practicing some deep breathing.   Let the research begin... Kabsa is the national dish of Saudi Arabia and is in fact eaten throughout the entire Arab world for any kind of special event.  It is made with rice and various types of meat (chicken, goat, lamb, beef, fish, shrimp) that are slowly simmered in a fantastic array of spices - not unlike the Jambalaya that we enjoy here in the Southern United States.  The spices, rice and meat are then garnished with various nuts and fruit and often served with hot sauces.  Most Arab families have their own version of this dish, so I looked for the most commonalities for this recipe.  

Back to the story - I know you're dying to know how it turned out.  First of all, let me tell you that AFTER the event, I found out there were kids bringing stuff like pizza rolls (Italy) and egg rolls (China) and here I was making this exotic recipe from the Middle East that required 538 spices!  Okay, maybe not that many, but you get the idea.  Second, I was thinking "There's no way a bunch of American teenagers are going to touch this stuff from the Middle East that they can't even pronounce!"  So I was gearing up to have a this for dinner.  I did taste it, however, before I sent it out.  It was amazing!  Anyway... when my son came home, so did the pot.  Bone dry.  EMPTY.  Not even one spoonful of rice was left in it!  He said it was unanimously the best thing there!  (Let me go ahead and take my bow.  Ha!)  


Ingredients(Serves 8 - 10)

    Saudi Arabian Kabsa_menumusings.com
  • 3 pounds of chicken cut into pieces
    • I used drumsticks and breasts
  • 1/2 tsp saffron
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice 
  • 1 Tbsp lime zest (~ one large lime) 
  • 4 Tbsp butter + 2 Tbsp (divided)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (1 - 1/2 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic paste (or finely minced garlic cloves)
  • 1 Tbsp ginger paste (or finely grated ginger root)
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomato puree
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into coins
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp + kosher salt
  • 1 tsp + black pepper
  • 4 cups (32 oz) chicken stock/broth
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 cups basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • Flat leaf parsley
  • 1 -2 sliced lemons 


Step-by-Step directions:
Make your fresh tomato puree.  The number of tomatoes will depend on the size and type you use.  Cut the tomatoes and blend into a puree.  

1/2 cup fresh tomato puree
Get your spice blend together.  When you need them, it will be much easier to just dump them into the pot if you have them measured out already.   Don't worry, we'll address each one individually later on when it's time.  
Saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, white pepper, lime zest
 Pat your chicken dry.  You'll get a better sear on it.
3 pounds chicken - legs, breasts
Melt butter in a Dutch oven or heavy pot. 
4 Tbsp butter
Add chicken pieces to the hot foaming butter.  

Season chicken liberally with kosher salt and black pepper as you layer the pieces in the pot.
Once you have some color on all sides of the chicken pieces, add the chopped onion, garlic and ginger.
1 onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp garlic paste
1 Tbsp ginger paste
 Saute all the aromatics with the chicken until the onions are soft and translucent.
Now add in the tomato puree and simmer for a few minutes. 
1/2 cup fresh tomato puree
 We are building layers of flavor here.  Let's go ahead and add in a can of diced tomatoes.
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
 Add in the carrots.  I've peeled and thinly sliced them into coins.
3 medium carrots
While all this is simmering, we are ready to add the seasoning stars to the show!
 Here we go!
1/2 tsp saffron
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 Tbsp lime zest
 You can already see how beautiful that's going to be!
 Now throw in a couple of whole cloves.  Don't worry, we will fish them out later.
2 whole cloves
At this point, give it all a good stir and let it simmer a few minutes.  It's a nice time to evaluate the seasoning and add a little more salt and pepper if you need it.  Remember, the rice is going to soak up a lot of seasoning.  
1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
 It's looking pretty fantastic already, right?
But we're not finished yet!  Add in your chicken broth.
32 oz chicken broth/stock
Hang in there.  We're getting close.  Add in the last couple of spices.
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
After a couple more minutes, all of your chicken pieces should be cooked and tender.  Go ahead and remove them in preparation for the rice.  
 Just set them aside.  We are going to crisp up the outside in just a few minutes to finish them off.
Now that you've removed the chicken, fish out those two cloves.  Believe me, nobody wants to bite into those. 
Now it's time to add the rice and get this going.  Bring this to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat.  Simmer on low for about 30 minutes until the rice is tender.  
2 1/4 cups basmati rice
 While the rice is cooking, we can address the chicken and the accompaniments.
In a hot pan, add some more butter or some olive oil (whatever you'd prefer), and once hot, add the chicken pieces to it to crisp up the skin.  Remove when brown on all sides, reserving butter.  
In the same pan, briefly brown the raisins.  They won't take long.
1/4 cup golden raisins
Drain them on a paper towel to remove any excess grease.
Now repeat with the sliced almonds to toast them.  Watch them carefully so they won't burn.
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Drain these, also, on a paper towel.
When the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, fluff with a fork.  Arrange the chicken pieces as desired.  Some recipes call for the chicken to be inside the rice, some on top.  Sprinkle the top of the dish with the toasted almonds.
1/4 cup toasted almonds
... and the slightly cooked/toasted raisins.
1/4 cup golden raisins that have been toasted in the butter
Now we are going to make it super beautiful and fragrant.  Snip some flat leaf parsley and sprinkle it over the top.
flat leaf parsley

Thinly slice a lemon or two and arrange the pieces over the top.  The juices will start seeping down onto the hot chicken, making it even more fragrant and juicy.
*At this point, many of the Arab recipes have the dish plated and arrange on a platter.  I chose to leave mine in this heavy Dutch oven because I knew it would retain the heat best.  Do what you feel is best for your guests and presentation here.   

thin lemon slices
And here we have the final dish!  Isn't it gorgeous?! Dig in!  So I guess for me, the moral of the story is that there's always something to learn, even if it's from teenagers who will surprise you by trying something new.  Gulp!  My son said he'd have this again ANY time.  
Saudi Arabian Kabsa_menumusings.com

To purchase a MenuMusings Cookbook - 
Click here for information about the MenuMusings cookbook!

I hope you've enjoyed this amazing taste of the Arab world.  Here are some Bonus recipes for you to enjoy from other places around our world. 

Bonus Recipes:
Mongolian Beef (Asian)
Mongolian Beef_menumusings.com
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork) Tacos (Mexican)
Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas_menumusings.com

Silpancho con Arroz y Papas Ricos (Bolivian)
Silpancho_menumusings.com

Boeuf Bourguignon (French)
Boeuf Bourguignon_menumusings.com

Baked Chicken Parmigiana  (Italian)
Baked Chicken Parmigiana_menumusings.com

Chicken Cordon Bleu (French)
Chicken Cordon Bleu_menumusings.com
Written Directions:
Make your fresh tomato puree.  The number of tomatoes will depend on the size and type you use.  Cut the tomatoes into chunks and blend into a puree.  An immersion blender works perfectly.

Get your spice blend together.  When you need them, it will be much easier to just dump them into the pot if you have them measured out already.   Pat your chicken dry so that you'll get a better sear on it.  Melt butter in a Dutch oven or heavy pot.  Add chicken pieces to the hot foaming butter.  Season chicken liberally with kosher salt and black pepper as you layer the pieces in the pot. 

Once you have some color on all sides of the chicken pieces, add the chopped onion, garlic and ginger.  Saute all the aromatics with the chicken until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add in the tomato puree and simmer for a few minutes.   Go ahead and add in a can of diced tomatoes and carrots that you have peeled and thinly sliced into coins.  

While all this is simmering, we are ready to add the seasoning stars to the show!  Just dump them all in there.  You can already see how beautiful that's going to be! Now throw in a couple of whole cloves.  Don't worry, we will fish them out later.  At this point, give it all a good stir and let it simmer a few minutes.  It's a nice time to evaluate the seasoning and add the salt and pepper.  Remember, the rice is going to soak up a lot of seasoning.  It's looking pretty fantastic already, right?  But we're not finished yet!  Add in your chicken broth.  Hang in there.  We're getting close.  Add in the last couple of spices. 

After a couple more minutes, all of your chicken pieces should be cooked and tender.  Go ahead and remove them in preparation for the rice.  Just set them aside.  We are going to crisp up the outside in just a few minutes to finish them off. Now that you've removed the chicken, fish out those two cloves.  Believe me, nobody wants to bite into those. 

Now it's time to add the rice and get this going.  Bring this to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat.  Simmer on low for about 30 minutes until the rice is tender.  

While the rice is cooking, we can address the chicken and the accompaniments.  In a hot pan, add some more butter or some olive oil (whatever you'd prefer), and once hot, add the chicken pieces to it to crisp up the skin.  Remove when brown on all sides, reserving butter.  

In the same pan, briefly brown the raisins.  They won't take long.  Drain them on a paper towel to remove any excess grease.   Now repeat with the sliced almonds to toast them.  Watch them carefully so they won't burn.  Drain these, also, on a paper towel.

When the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, fluff with a fork.  Arrange the chicken pieces as desired.  Some recipes call for the chicken to be inside the rice, some on top.  Sprinkle the top of the dish with the toasted almonds... and the slightly cooked/toasted raisins.

Now we are going to make it super beautiful and fragrant.  Snip some flat leaf parsley and sprinkle it over the top.  Thinly slice a lemon or two and arrange the pieces over the top.  The juices will start seeping down onto the hot chicken, making it even more fragrant and juicy.
*At this point, many of the Arab recipes have the dish plated and arrange on a platter.  I chose to leave mine in this heavy Dutch oven because I knew it would retain the heat best.  Do what you feel is best for your guests and presentation here.   


And here we have the final dish!  Isn't it gorgeous?! Dig in!  

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

In-Article Adsense