Chicken Kabsa

Arabic Chicken Kabsa is a deliciously aromatic and flavorful dish that holds a prominent place in Middle Eastern cuisine. It is often considered the national dish of Saudi Arabia and is enjoyed across the Arabian Peninsula. The dish consists of spiced rice cooked with succulent chicken, infused with a blend of exotic spices and garnished with fried nuts and raisins. Preparing Chicken Kabsa is an art that involves balancing flavors and cooking techniques to achieve a perfect dish.

Ingredients for Chicken Kabsa

To make authentic Chicken Kabsa, you will need the following ingredients:

For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

For the Rice:

  • 2 cups basmati rice, soaked and drained
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation of Chicken Kabsa

Step 1: Marinating the Chicken

Begin by marinating the chicken pieces. In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground paprika, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground black pepper, and salt. Coat the chicken pieces thoroughly with this spice mixture. Cover the bowl and let the chicken marinate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate deeply.

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Step 2: Preparing the Rice

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the rice. Soak the basmati rice in water for about 30 minutes, then drain it well. This step helps in achieving fluffy, non-sticky rice.

Step 3: Cooking the Chicken

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook until they are browned on all sides. Remove the chicken and set aside. In the same pot, add the chopped onions and garlic, and sauté until they are golden brown.

Step 4: Adding the Vegetables and Spices

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, grated carrots, and bell peppers to the pot. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the tomatoes have released their juices. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, salt, and pepper. Mix well to ensure the spices are evenly distributed.

Chicken Kabsa

Step 5: Cooking the Rice with Chicken

Return the browned chicken pieces to the pot. Add the soaked and drained basmati rice over the chicken and vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth, ensuring that the rice is fully submerged. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and let it simmer for about 25-30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and the chicken is tender.

Chicken Kabsa

Step 6: Garnishing

Once the rice and chicken are cooked, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit covered for an additional 10 minutes. This resting period allows the flavors to meld together beautifully. Before serving, fluff the rice gently with a fork. Garnish with toasted pine nuts, slivered almonds, and raisins.

Tips for the Perfect Chicken Kabsa

1. Use High-Quality Spices:

The key to a flavorful Chicken Kabsa lies in the quality of the spices used. Freshly ground spices will enhance the aroma and taste of the dish.

2. Marinate the Chicken Well:

Allowing the chicken to marinate for a longer period ensures that it absorbs the spices thoroughly, resulting in a more flavorful dish.

3. Properly Cook the Rice:

Soaking the basmati rice before cooking helps achieve the desired texture. Additionally, maintaining the right rice-to-liquid ratio is crucial for fluffy rice.

4. Simmer on Low Heat:

Cooking the Chicken Kabsa on low heat ensures that the rice cooks evenly and absorbs all the flavors from the broth and spices.

Serving Suggestions

Chicken Kabsa is traditionally served with a variety of side dishes to complement its rich flavors. Here are some serving suggestions:

  • Salata Hara (Spicy Tomato Salad): A refreshing salad made with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and green chilies, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Tahini Sauce: A creamy and tangy sauce made from tahini (sesame paste), garlic, lemon juice, and water.
  • Arabic Bread: Soft and fluffy flatbread perfect for scooping up the flavorful rice and chicken.


Arabic Chicken Kabsa is a culinary delight that brings together the best of Middle Eastern flavors and cooking techniques. Its rich, aromatic spices and tender chicken make it a favorite among food lovers. By following this detailed recipe and tips, you can recreate this traditional dish in your kitchen and impress your family and friends with an authentic and delicious Chicken Kabsa.

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