Often called the national dish of Saudi Arabia, this favorite gets its flavor from a mixture of intense spices. There are many variations of kabsa. Besides chicken, it can be made with goat, lamb, camel, or seafood. Some recipes call for adding almonds, pine nuts, or raisins (pictured here). Serve kabsa with dakkous, a quick and easy hot sauce (Recipe follows). Ingredients:

  • 1 uncooked chicken (about 1 ¼ kilos), cut into four pieces
  • 4 whole cardamom pods
  • 1 medium onion peeled and left whole
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 whole, dried black lemons
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of mixed kabsa spices
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 (135-mg) boxes of tomato paste
  • 2 hot green chili peppers
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
  • 3 cups uncooked basmati or other long grain rice


  • Place chicken in a large pot and fill with water to cover. Bring water to boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, discard water, rinse chicken and refill the pot with fresh water. Add cardamom and whole onion and heat to boiling. Cook for 1 hour or until chicken is done, adding more water if needed.
  • Remove the chicken to an ovenproof dish, cover with foil, and set aside. Reserve chicken broth for later use. Preheat oven to lowest setting.
  • Heat oil in a large stock pot. Add diced onion and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken, whole black lemons, cinnamon stick, coriander, cumin, kabsa spices, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Add 1½ boxes of the tomato paste, chili peppers, shredded carrot, and chickpeas (Save the remaining tomato paste for another use). Mix well and stir in ½ cup of the reserved chicken broth, continuing to stir until well mixed.
  • Add an additional 4½ cups chicken broth, bring to boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. NOTE: Rice to liquid ratio is 1 ½ cups liquid to 1 cup rice. If necessary add water to reach the correct amount of liquid.
  • Remove chicken pieces to an ovenproof dish and cover tightly with foil. Place in oven to keep warm. Add the rice to the mixture and stir to combine. Return to a boil, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
  • To serve, remove and discard the cinnamon stick, put the rice on a large serving plate, top with the chicken pieces and serve family style. Serve with dakkous if desired.

Makes 4 to 5 servings. Dakkous Ingredients:

  • 2 fresh tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic (add more if desired)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 or 2 hot green chili peppers
  • 3 sprigs of parsley

Preparation: Place first five ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth. Add parsley and pulse three times. Serve with the kabsa. Recipe submitted by Lena Tawfiq.