Arabian Gulf-Style Kabsa

Arabian Gulf Chicken Kabsa RecipeI am starting my food journey with a dish I grew up with in Saudi Arabia – Kabsa! Chicken simmered in tomato and spices, and rice cooked in the chicken stock leaves you with a rich dish so sublime you won’t believe how you’ve been living without this dish all these years! It’s usually served with a quick tomato sauce and salad. Give it a try and it will quickly become a family favourite! 

Welcome, dear foodies! This is my first post and to commemorate this milestone, I wanted to go back to my childhood. So, I grew up in Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, with some of the most amazing cuisines and fresh food available all year round. That’s kind of surprising because what people picture when imagining the Middle East is vast expanses of desert (and camels)! While that’s quite true (not so much the camels), the quality of local and imported produce is impressive. From mangoes to fresh greens to several species of melons, and super fresh meat, seafood and dairy, we were spoilt for choice! Eating out was always an experience, many of the flavours I miss so terribly much. I think Australia needs to up their Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine game.

Growing up, we would regularly go for picnics or bbq’s by the beach. And Kabsa was a staple at these picnics. Also Al-Baik (the KFC equivalent only found in Saudi Arabia that has locals and visitors go crazy over) but that’s for another post another day. So Kabsa is a meat and rice dish eaten in Arabian Gulf countries. It’s made with either chicken, mutton or lamb. I like the chicken version the best. You cook the chicken in an array of spices and then cook the rice in the flavourful chicken broth. The chicken may also be grilled to add more complexity to the flavours and the whole dish is drizzled with a tangy tomato sauce that you can drink by the bowlful. The version I have here is the Saudi Kabsa recipe with a slight modification by adding chickpeas.

This is something we don’t get in Australia, and that my mom had perfected so that she could make it for us whenever my sister or I were visiting. So I bring to you one of my childhood favourites using one of my mom’s many signature recipes.

To all the Third Culture Kids who’ve left the Middle East and crave a morsel of their childhood – this is for you! I hope you give this a try and share how you like it! Enjoy 🙂



Arabian Gulf Kabsa
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins

A flavourful chicken and rice dish popular in the Arabian Gulf. 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Arabian Gulf
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 chicken cut into 4 pieces, or 8 if you prefer smaller pieces
  • 1 tbsp whole cumin
  • 7 cardamom
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 pieces cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger grated
  • 2 tomatoes blended
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 chicken bullion (stock cube)
  • 1 cup carrot shredded
  • 1 tbso salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup carrots shredded
  • 10-12 almonds blanched
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 cups long grain rice soaked in water for 1/2 hour
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 dried lime
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 1/4 cup chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Tomato sauce (accompaniment)
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 green chili
  • 2 tsp coriander chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. 1. Heat oil, add onions and sauté till golden brown (around 7-10 mins)

    2. Add whole spices (cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves) and grated ginger, then cook 3-4 minutes until fragrant. 

    3. Add chicken. Stir 1 minute to add colour. 

    4. Add blended tomato, tomato paste and salt. Cook 10-12 mins. 

    5. Add shredded carrots and chicken stock cube.

    6. Cover with lid and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. 

    5. Remove chicken pieces when tender. 

    6. Grill for 5 mins at 180c to brown, before serving. 

  1. 1. Add drained rice, grated carrot, tomato paste, dried lime and raisins. 

    7. Add water and salt to taste. Bring to boil. 

    8. Cook 10-12 minutes and add chickpeas. 

    9. Cover with lid and simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes until rice is fluffy and cooked. 

  1. 1. Add oil, carrots, raisins and sliced almonds.

    2. Cook 3-4 mins until almonds are toasted.

    3. Remove and drain excess oil

Tomato sauce
  1. Blend all ingredients together until of smooth consistency 

To serve
  1. 1. Plate rice

    2. Place chicken pieces over rice, around the sides

    3. Place garnish in the middle

    4. Serve with tomato sauce 

    5. Enjoy and lick your fingers if you want to, it's that good! 


Watch how to make kabsa

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  • Reply
    July 17, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    I shall try this tomorrow…the child in me needs to feel home!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    I cooked this last night…reminded me of Bukhari rice we used to eat in Saudi. My kids loved it.

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