CHICKEN KAABSA Middle Eastern Tomato Chicken Rice

KAABSA, the most popular or would rather say the national dish of Saudi Arabia.

In simple terms if I have to say, it’s a delicious slightly tangy tomato chicken Middle Eastern rice dish.One can find several variation of Kabsa preparation and widely eaten all over Saudi Arabia and other parts of the middle eastern countries like Kuwait, Bahrain etc.

It is a commonly prepared dish during any occasion when friends and families get together like festival, wedding, new born, and the list goes on.

Kabsa is beautiful rice dish made with any long grain rice, tomato paste, meat and aromatic Arabic spices, topped with nuts and raisins. The spices used in Kabsa are largely responsible for its taste; these are generally black pepper, cloves, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, black lime, bay leaves and nutmeg. The main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat, such as chicken, goat, lamb etc.

The flavours of this middle eastern rice dish is enhanced by the nutty aroma of the spices and clarified butter.There are several variation in making Kabsa, and this is one of them.


  • 3 cups basmati rice, washed and drained
  • 3 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 1/2 large onions chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 kg chicken pieces ( I have used chicken thighs and drumsticks)
  • 1 tin can of chopped tomatoes ( you can also used 2 large blanched and chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 heaped tbsp Arabic masala ( Garam masala can also be used in absence of Arabic spices but that may vary in the taste of Kabsa)
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 1.25 L of chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley or coriander


1 thinly sliced and fried onion

1/4 cup mixed nuts fried or roasted. I have used pistachios and almonds and sultanas and raisins.


  1. Heat clarified butter in a large heavy based casserole over medium to high heat
  2. Add the onions, ginger and garlic and saute for few minutes
  3. Add the chicken pieces and stir for a few minutes. Now add the Arabic masala, season with salt and pepper and fry until golden brown.
  4. Add the chicken stock, the chopped tomato can and 1 tbsp tomato paste.
  5. Season with more spices according to your taste and herbs. Simmer uncovered on lowest heat uncovered for 20 -30 minutes.
  6. Now, add the rice over the chicken, pour the saffron soaked water over it, cover with a lid and let it cook for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is done.
  7. Finally garnish with the fried onions, nuts and raisins.


  • In absence of stock you can also use stock cubes. In such for 3 cups of rice you will require 5 cups of water. Remember we don’t want our rice to become overcooked. The texture should be nice and fluffy.

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