Kabsa originated from Yemen and is served as a traditional dish in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar, Jordan and Kuwait. It is an impressive looking dish often served on special occasions, each household and region has a slightly different version. 

Kabsa is usually chicken (but sometimes other meat such as goat, mutton or even camel) served on a bed of steaming rice and redolent of exotic spices — is a national dish of Saudi Arabia. Variations are also popular in Yemen and the Gulf States of the Arabian peninsula, where it is known as machboos.

This one is the Saudi Arabian version, courtesy of Manu’s Menu -adapted from Saudi Food with Eman

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Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time:  50 minutes

Servings 4 to 6


  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups onions chopped
  • ½ tsp ginger grated
  • 600 gms chicken pieces with bones and skin
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • ½ tbsp ground pepper
  • ½ tbsp cardamom powder
  • 1 dried lime
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ¼ tsp clove powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cup long grain rice like Basmati
  • 2 cup carrots shredded
  • 1/3 cup almonds blanched and halved
  • 1/3 cup raisins


  1. Wash and soak the rice in cold water for 45 minutes.
  2. In a big pot, add the 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, chopped onion and ginger. Fry on medium heat until brown.
  3. Add the chicken and brown it on both sides.
  4. Add the cardamom powder, cinnamon powder, clove powder, dried lime, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and mix well
  5. Add the tomato paste and the chopped tomatoes and cook until the oil rises to the top. Add 1 liter – 4 cups of water, cover and let the chicken cook for 25 minutes on medium-high heat.
  6. In the meantime, fry the raisins until plump and brown in a little bit of oil, drain and keep them aside. Then do the same thing with the almonds. Keep aside.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot and put it in a baking pan. Bake it in a hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Keep aside.
  • Drain the rice and put it in the pot from where you removed the chicken. Add the shredded carrots and mix well
  • Cover with a clean tea towel and cover with a lid (this will prevent the steam from evaporating too quickly). Cook the rice for 20-25 minutes on medium heat. Serve decorated with the nuts and fruit