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Chicken kabsa(Saudi chicken and rice recipe)

Chicken Kabsa is a middle eastern chicken and rice recipe in which basmati rice is cooked with spices and broth and then layered with baked, brown, and crispy chicken.

This Chicken kabsa recipe with a step-by-step guide will make it easy for you to make this unofficial national dish of Saudi Arabia, right at home where ever you are, giving nostalgic memories.

If you want to serve a meal for a large crowd, during the festive season(perfect for Ramadan), on a special occasion, or for your family over the weekend, this popular Arabic rice dish is the one for you.

What is Kabsa rice

If you’ve lived in the middle east then you would have had the opportunity to taste this quintessential Arabic chicken and rice recipe.

It’s a middle eastern full meal with, rice cooked in chicken broth that includes a tomato base and layered with grilled chicken.

My favorite memories are of buying these huge foiled packs of this Arabic rice dish and driving out for the weekend, stopping at a place where you can just enjoy a family picnic styel meal outdoors.

It’s a filling meal that doesn’t need a lot of side dishes making it perfect for day trips.

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Tips on making the chicken kabsa recipe

Ingredients to make the chicken kabsa

  • Chicken parts.
    • you can use whole chicken quarter legs as well as thighs for best results.
    • Thighs and legs do well with the skin as they are first used to make the chicken broth and then baked and grilled to give them a crispy finish.
  • Tomatoes and tomato paste
    • A combination of chopped tomatoes and tomato paste adds the unique familiar subtle tang to the broth in which the basmati rice is cooked.
      • Though you can use the blender to make a tomato puree, you can also simply chop them into smaller pieces, this doesn’t make much of a difference to the end result of the chicken kabsa.
      • The use of tomato paste which is thicker and a little sweeter than the natural juices of the chopped tomato amplifies the tomato taste in the broth without adding more liquid into it. please do not substitute with regular tomato sauce(ketchup).
  • Saffron
    • Saffron is VERY expensive, if you are unable to afford or see it as a waste to buy just for this recipe then substitute with 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric. It is very difficult to find the really good saffron at a moderate price and more often you’ll find(as I have found out)most are just imitations of the real thing.
    • If you do want to know more about saffron, this article on what is saffron or this article on Wikipedia about saffron should give you more details.
  • Rice
    • Any long grained rice would work, we are using basmati rice for the chicken kabsa.
  • Water to make the broth and then cook the rice.
    • Here’s how much water should be added to the chicken parts to make the broth.

Please add an extra cup(1 cup) of water to be used only if needed.

I have based the quantity of rice to broth using the common ratio for rice and liquid which is.

1:2 ratio which means, for every 1 cup of rice add 2 cups of water. In turn, you will get 3 cups of cooked rice. 1:2:3 ratio

The extra cup of broth is there to use in case the rice needs to cook a little longer and needs liquid.

you will not need the whole cup of extra broth so use the leftovers for another day of cooking rice.

  • Black dried lime-
    • you will have to have the dried lime for chicken kabsa. if you are unable to find black lime then the next best substitute will be sumac.

Here’s a video on how to make you own dry black lime

  • Avoid the following mistakes to cook the best chicken kabsa recipe.
    • Don’t just read the recipe below but please do read the whole recipe post. I don’t write fluff but tips and notes to the best of my ability to help you get the recipe right the first time whether you are a pro cook or just starting out your cooking adventure.
    • Don’t substitute ingredients unless I have mentioned a substitute here.
    • Follow the rice to water ratio given for this recipe. the only way to over cook the basmati and make it soggy is by adding too much broth.
    • Don’t over cook the rice, if your pan is deep, then there will be a lot of heat within the pan to cook the rice more, once you’ve cooked the rice, remove the pot from the oven.
    • Gently and without breaking the rice grains, slide a large spoon and bring the rice from the bottom to the top. don’t mix, just dig deep and bring it on top as you want the rice at the bottom to not overcook with the remaining heat.
    • Again, try to avoid overcooking the rice.

Frequently asked questions about cooking kabsa rice

  • Can I use other parts of the chicken to make the kabsa?
    • Yes, you can use chicken breasts as well but I find the bone in fleshy chicken parts work well to give me the maximum flavor in the chicken broth.
  • Can I substitute tomato paste with extra chopped tomatoes if I don’t have tomato paste?
    • If you are unable to find tomato paste then chop extra 2 large tomatoes and add instead of the tomato paste with a tablespoon of sugar.
    • use this only as an emergency substitute if you like to have a really authentic chicken kabsa flavors.
  • Do I need to smoke the rice as well, can I leave the smoking out?
    • To make this recipe, I heavily depended on my memories and my husbands as well. I distinctly remember the kabsa rice I’ve eaten having a woody and smoky taste to it which is why I reccomend the smoking at the end.
    • You can definitely serve the chicken kabsa rice without smoking it but I would love if you can follow out the smoking step as well, this step is what brings all the component of the chicken kabsa recipe together.
  • Is it difficult to make chicken kabsa?

Well, at first when you go through the recipe you might find it daunting but here’s my honest opinion.

Once you understand the workflow, do all the prep work involved, chicken kabsa is one of the easiest one-pot rice and chicken recipes you will ever make.

I mean, it’s a recipe that is so efficient using the main ingredients chicken parts and rice to its maximum. AND there is less washing up and cleaning involved than any other rice and chicken recipes I’ve ever made.

Utensils and appliances needed

  • Chopping board and knife
  • Baking pan
  • Foil
  • Large cooking pot
  • Large jug or bowl to pour in the chicken broth
  • A Small heat resistant cup that can be used to hold a piece of charcoal.
  • 1 piece of charcoal
More recipes like chicken kabsa(rice and chicken)

Chicken mandi

Egg biryani

Hyederabadi chicken biryani

RECIPE DIFFICULTY-LITTLE CARE NEEDED

How to make chicken kabsa rice

Please make sure to read the recipe instructions carefully to avoid mistakes.

Ingredients.

The ingredients mentioned below use standard measuring cups and spoons

To make the kabsa broth base

1/4 cup butter or oil(use ghee, regular vegetable oil, olive oil, etc)

1 large onion finely chopped

3 tablespoons minced garlic(6 garlic cloves minced)

1 tablespoon tomato paste(read tips and questions regarding substitute)

3 large tomatoes chopped

2 black limes slightly bruised or pierced

2-star anise

2 bay leaves

2″ cinnamon

To make the chicken broth for the kabsa

1kg chicken( a mix of chicken quarters and thighs with skin on)

2 teaspoons coriander powder

1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

3 cardamom slightly bruised(or 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom powder)

3 medium-sized carrots grated

3 cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg grated

2 teaspoons of pepper powder

5 cups of water(I have added an extra cup of water, please refer to notes above for the reasons)

To bake and grill the chicken parts

2 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of onion powder(if you don’t have the powder then skip this ingredient)

To cook the rice

2 cups of basmati rice

1 teaspoon saffron

Salt as needed

For garnishing

1/2 a cup of raisins(skip the raising if you have family members who hate raisins)

1/2 cup of almond flakes(options)

1/4 cup raisins

Method

Prep work before you begin making the chicken kabsa.

  • Please read the tips and frequently asked question recipe notes before proceeding to make the kabsa recipe.
  • Have all the ingredients needed to make the chicken kabsa ready.
  • Cut and have the chicken parts ready.
  • Shred the carrots and set them aside.
  • Cover a baking pan with foil and have it ready to bake the chicken parts.
  • have the butter-garlic mixture ready to baste the chicken parts.
  • Soak the saffron in 1/4 cup warm water and set aside.
  • Wash the rice and set it aside, if you want to you can soak them in water but I have not done it here.

How to prepare the chicken parts for the chicken kabsa

  • Use chicken quarter legs as well as thigh with the skin on.
  • Wash, clean, and set aside until used.

How to make the tomato-spice base for the chicken broth

Heat the butter(1/4 cup) in a pan.

Saute the onions(1 large finely chopped), tomato(3 large), garlic(3 tbsp, minced), black lime(2, pierced or bruised to add flavor), star anise(3), cinnamon(2″piece), tomato paste(1tbsp), bay leaves(2).

Cook over low-medium heat until onions turn soft and you have a rough tomato-based wet spice mix.

How to make the chicken broth for the kabsa

Add the chicken parts(1 kg, a mix of chicken quarters and thighs with skin on), to the tomato base mix and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

Mix frequently, reduce heat if you notice the spices are sticking to the pan.

Add salt(1 and 1/2 tsp), coriander powder(2 tsp), cumin powder(1 tsp), cardamom(3 slightly bruised or 1/2 tsp ground), cardamom(3), grated nutmeg(1/8 tsp), pepper powder(2 tsp) carrot(3 medium grated).

Pour in 5 cups of water(I have added an extra cup of water, please refer to notes above for the rice to water ratio and reasons).

Cover and slow simmer for at least 30-45 minutes until you have a good broth.

Taste the broth and season with salt.

How to bake and grill the chicken parts to make chicken kabsa.

Mix butter(1 tbsp), garlic powder(1 tsp), onion powder(1 tsp, if you don’t have this ingredient then skip it).

Once you’ve made the broth, remove the chicken parts and place them in the baking pan.

Brush the garlic butter on the chicken parts.

Preheat the oven to 170C(338 F).

And then bake for 40 minutes, turning them at 20 minutes and brushing them with the garlic butter.

Once they’ve baked, remove the chicken parts to a plate and pour the dripping onto a small bowl, return the chicken parts to the baking pan.

Repeat the process of brushing the garlic butter and then grill each side for 12 minutes at 170C(338F)

How to cook the kabsa rice

While the chicken is baking, you can move on to cooking the rice.

Dissolve saffron(1 tsp)in 4 tablespoons of hot water(refer to notes on saffron above) and set aside.

Pour the chicken broth into a large jug, only the liquid.

Everything else, including the grated carrot pieces, can remain in the pot.

Add the washed basmati rice(2 cups)to the pan. add the saffron.

And pour in 4 and 1/4 cup of the broth. taste and add salt if the broth seems bland.

Cook over medium heat.

Check the rice, if you need to cook the rice longer and need a little broth add another 1/4 cup and continue to cook.

If you feel that the rice needs only a few minutes (5 minutes)to cook through then cover with a lid and let the remaining heat cook the rice.

Once the rice is soft and fluffy, remove the rice pot from the stove and use a large fork a flat spoon to dig in and bring the rice from the bottom to the top.

Avoid breaking the rice as much as you can, don’t cover with a lid as you want the rice to cool down.

How to smoke the chicken kabsa.

Pour the dripping from the baked chicken onto the rice.

Place the chicken parts around the rice and place a small, heat-resistant bowl in the middle.

Heat a piece of charcoal until hot. use charcoal that is not covered in silver covering for best results.

Place the hot charcoal in the bowl and pour ghee(1 tbsp, substitute with melted butter, olive oil, any non-fragrant light oil) over the burnt charcoal.

As soon as you see the smoke rising, Place an aluminum foil and cover it with a tight lid. leave it for 3-5 minutes.

The kabsa rice will absorb the smoky flavors.

Serve with a tomato-coriander-based condiment(haven’t added this recipe yet but will add the link to it when I have added the recipe).

Meanwhile, serve with fresh spicy tomato salsa which has similar elements to it

Garnish with raisins and almond flakes, serve warm.

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chicken kabsa made with layer of baked chicken

Chicken Kabsa(Saudi Chicken And Rice Recipe)

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours

Chicken Kabsa is a middle eastern chicken and rice recipe in which basmati rice is cooked with spices and broth and then layered with baked, brown, and crispy chicken.

This Chicken kabsa recipe with a step-by-step guide will make it easy for you to make this unofficial national dish of Saudi Arabia, right at home where ever you are, giving nostalgic memories.

Ingredients

The ingredients mentioned below use standard measuring cups and spoons

  • To make the kabsa broth base
  • 1/4 cup butter or oil(use ghee, regular vegetable oil, olive oil, etc)
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic(6 garlic cloves minced)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste(read tips and questions regarding substitute)
  • 3 large tomatoes chopped
  • 2 black limes slightly bruised or pierced
  • 2-star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2″ cinnamon

To make the chicken broth for the kabsaNew Group

  • 1kg chicken( a mix of chicken quarters and thighs with skin on)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 3 cardamom slightly bruised(or 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom powder)
  • 3 medium-sized carrots grated
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg grated
  • 2 teaspoons of pepper powder
  • 5 cups of water(I have added an extra cup of water, please refer to notes above for the reasons)

To bake and grill the chicken parts

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder(if you don’t have the powder then skip this ingredient)

To cook the rice

  • 2 cups of basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • Salt as needed

For garnishing

  • 1/2 a cup of raisins(skip the raising if you have family members who hate raisins)
  • 1/2 cup of almond flakes(options)
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Instructions

Prep work before you begin making the chicken kabsa.

  • Please read the tips and frequently asked question recipe notes before proceeding to make the kabsa recipe.
  • Have all the ingredients needed to make the chicken kabsa ready.
  • Cut and have the chicken parts ready.
  • Shred the carrots and set them aside.
  • Cover a baking pan with foil and have it ready to bake the chicken parts.
  • have the butter-garlic mixture ready to baste the chicken parts.
  • Soak the saffron in 1/4 cup warm water and set aside.
  • Wash the rice and set it aside, if you want to you can soak them in water but I have not done it here.

How to prepare the chicken parts for the chicken kabsa

  • Use chicken quarter legs as well as thigh with the skin on.
  • Wash, clean, and set aside until used.

How to make the tomato-spice base for the chicken broth

Heat the butter(1/4 cup) in a pan.

Saute the onions(1 large finely chopped), tomato(3 large), garlic(3 tbsp, minced), black lime(2, pierced or bruised to add flavor), star anise(3), cinnamon(2″piece), tomato paste(1tbsp), bay leaves(2).

Cook over low-medium heat until onions turn soft and you have a rough tomato-based wet spice mix.

How to make the chicken broth for the kabsa

Add the chicken parts(1 kg, a mix of chicken quarters and thighs with skin on), to the tomato base mix and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

Mix frequently, reduce heat if you notice the spices are sticking to the pan.

Add salt(1 and 1/2 tsp), coriander powder(2 tsp), cumin powder(1 tsp), cardamom(3 slightly bruised or 1/2 tsp ground), cardamom(3), grated nutmeg(1/8 tsp), pepper powder(2 tsp) carrot(3 medium grated).

Pour in 5 cups of water(I have added an extra cup of water, please refer to notes above for the rice to water ratio and reasons).

Cover and slow simmer for at least 30-45 minutes until you have a good broth.

Taste the broth and season with salt.

Mix butter(1 tbsp), garlic powder(1 tsp), onion powder(1 tsp, if you don’t have this ingredient then skip it).

Once you’ve made the broth, remove the chicken parts and place them in the baking pan.

Brush the garlic butter on the chicken parts.

Preheat the oven to 170C(338 F).

And then bake for 40 minutes, turning them at 20 minutes and brushing them with the garlic butter.

Once they’ve baked, remove the chicken parts to a plate and pour the dripping onto a small bowl, return the chicken parts to the baking pan.

Repeat the process of brushing the garlic butter and then grill each side for 12 minutes at 170C(338F).

How to cook the kabsa rice

While the chicken is baking, you can move on to cooking the rice.

Dissolve saffron(1 tsp)in 4 tablespoons of hot water(refer to notes on saffron above) and set aside.

Pour the chicken broth into a large jug, only the liquid.

Everything else, including the grated carrot pieces, can remain in the pot.

Add the washed basmati rice(2 cups)to the pan. add the saffron.

And pour in 4 and 1/4 cup of the broth. taste and add salt if the broth seems bland.

Cook over medium heat.

Check the rice, if you need to cook the rice longer and need a little broth add another 1/4 cup and continue to cook.

If you feel that the rice needs only a few minutes (5 minutes)to cook through then cover with a lid and let the remaining heat cook the rice.

Once the rice is soft and fluffy, remove the rice pot from the stove and use a large fork a flat spoon to dig in and bring the rice from the bottom to the top.

Avoid breaking the rice as much as you can, don’t cover with a lid as you want the rice to cool down.

How to smoke the chicken kabsa.

Pour the dripping from the baked chicken onto the rice.

Place the chicken parts around the rice and place a small, heat-resistant bowl in the middle.

Heat a piece of charcoal until hot. use charcoal that is not covered in silver covering for best results.

Place the hot charcoal in the bowl and pour ghee(1 tbsp, substitute with melted butter, olive oil, any non-fragrant light oil) over the burnt charcoal.

As soon as you see the smoke rising, Place an aluminum foil and cover it with a tight lid. leave it for 3-5 minutes.

The kabsa rice will absorb the smoky flavors.

Serve with a tomato-coriander-based condiment(haven’t added this recipe yet but will add the link to it when I have added the recipe).

Meanwhile, serve with fresh spicy tomato salsa which has similar elements to it

Garnish with raisins and almond flakes, serve warm.

Did you make this recipe?

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Each recipe on this blog has been written with great care and love to the best of my ability with you in mind.
It’s free and on the blog, for you to try anytime.

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