Eman’s Chicken Kabsa
23 Dec 2017

Eman’s Chicken Kabsa

23 Dec 2017

Mummy wasn’t feeling well a few weekends back, and I was really worried because she took so long to recover and had such poor appetite.  I decided to make something nice for her for dinner, in hopes that she’d eat more.  I didn’t want to do a lamb dish, because I figured an elevated blood pressure was the last thing Mummy needed at that point.  Finally I settled for a hearty pot of her favourite lentil soup, as well as this chicken kabsa recipe by Saudi Food Eman.

This chicken kabsa was slightly different from the version I made previously.  I like how Eman finishes her chicken in the oven, for a crispier chicken.  I would add 1/4 cup each of chickpeas and jumbo raisins next time, because Mummy seems to like that.  Try this out if you don’t have any pre-made Kabsah spices on hand.  Enjoy!

Eman’s Chicken Kabsa


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 (1 kilogram) chicken, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Himalayan rock salt, or coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander (ketumbar)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin (jintan putih)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (buah pelaga), about 5 pods finely ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Zest of 1 orange, coarsely grated
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and pureed
  • 2 1/2 cups soaked basmati rice, washed and soaked for 20 minutes, and drained
  • 2 dried lemon
  • Handful of cilantro (daun ketumbar), roughly chopped (optional)


Preheat the oven at 220 degrees C (fan 200 degrees C).

In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, heat the oil.

Add the onions and cook, stirring, until onions are soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes.

Place the chicken in the pot and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Add the salt.

Add all spices except the dried lemon – coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and cloves.

Add the tomato paste and orange zest and cook, stirring, until well combined and spices are fragrant, 5 minutes.

Add the pureed tomatoes and a bit of water, and stir to combine.

Cover the pot and cook, 20 minutes.

Transfer the chicken pieces to a roasting tray.

Roast in the oven until browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

While the chicken roasts, make the rice.  Add the rice and dried lemon to the onion mixture and stir to combine.

Add just enough water to the pot to cover the rice.  The rice should still be visible.

Bring to a boil on high heat for 5 minutes.

Cover the pot and cook over low heat, undisturbed, 20 minutes.  Do not remove the lid while the rice is cooking.

When the rice is done, gently stir with a wooden spoon to fluff the rice.

Serve on a platter topped with the roasted chicken, garnished with a handful of chopped coriander if you like.

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