Kabsa (Saudi Arabia)

chicken-kasabaKabsa is a traditional Saudi Arabian rice-based dish served with a large portion of meat (chicken, camel, beef, lamb). Kabsa can be found all over the Middle East under different names and with slight differences in the use of spices.

Thank you to Martha Stewart for her rendition of Chicken Kabsa, serving 6.


For the Lemon Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt or labneh
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh curly parsley
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt

For the Chicken

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, plus 6 chicken drumsticks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot (about 1 medium carrot)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 strips orange zest, plus juice of 1 orange
  • 3 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 5 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, washed until water is clear then soaked in water to cover for 45 minutes
  • 2 cups safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup curly parsley sprigs, for garnish


  1. Make the lemon yogurt sauce: In a medium bowl, stir to combine yogurt, lemon zest and juice, parsley, and cayenne. Season with salt; set aside.
  2. Make the chicken: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large high-sided saute pan or Dutch oven over medium-high. Working in batches, cook chicken, turning, until golden and crisp on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and stir in onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, orange zest and juice, stock, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer.
  4. Place browned chicken, skin-side up, in simmering liquid and transfer to oven for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove chicken from cooking liquid and place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Reserve pan with cooking liquid. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees and transfer chicken to oven until cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes.
  6. To prepare the rice, heat pan with reserved cooking liquid over medium and bring to a simmer. Stir in rice, cover, and cook at a low simmer until rice is tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and fluff with a fork to combine.
  7. Heat safflower oil in a small heavy-bottomed pot until a deep-fry thermometer reads 325 degrees. Add almonds and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towel-lined plate to drain. Add raisins to pot and cook until puffed, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper-towel lined plate to drain.
  8. To serve, spoon rice onto a serving platter and top with chicken. Sprinkle with fried almonds and raisins, garnish with parsley, and serve with lemon yogurt sauce.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.