kabsa 2

Kabsa Arabian Rice





20 min


40 min


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Kabsa Arabian Rice

A fragrant rice dish with Chicken recipe from Saudi Arabia.

The Recipe Intro includes Video on how to make this delicious Kabsa Rice. Check it out ↓ 

read the recipe introduction

Kabsa Arabian Rice


  • ¹⁄3 cup ‏Oil or Butter
  • 1 ½ kg ‏chicken, with skin (preferred) - cut into large pieces (Keeping the skin on provides for a much more succulent and moist chicken - you may discard before eating)
  • 1 Tbsp ‏coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ‏chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ‏black pepper powder
  • 1 cup / 2 medium ‏onion, chopped ( red or yellow onion)
  • ½ cup ‏garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 " piece ‏ginger, minced - optional
  • 1 cup (2 Nos) ‏tomatoes, diced
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp ‏tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ‏Bahar / Baharat / Arabian Spices or Kabsa Spice ( see below for home made mix)
  • 1 ‏dried/black lime - LOOMI (Use grated lime zest if you cant find dried lime - Only the outer yellow skin. None of the white layer as this tends to be bitter)
  • 4 cups ‏basmati rice
  • 6 ¼ cups ‏chicken stock or water
  • 4 tsp (approximately) ‏- salt (less if using chicken stock)
  • As needed for garnish: ‏Boiled, sliced eggs, fresh parsley/coriander, fried raisins, fresh lime etc.

For Baharat Spice Mix:

  • ½ tsp ‏ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ‏ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ‏red chilly flakes/powder
  • ¹⁄4 tsp ‏ground cloves
  • 1⁄8 tsp ‏cumin powder
  • (1 stick cinnamon, 5 cloves, 3 cardamom, 5 black pepper corns) ‏: Optional: You may also add whole spices along with the powdered spices if you dont mind removing them from your rice


  1. Marinate the rinsed and drained chicken with coriander powder, chilli powder and black pepper powder (optionally you can add 2 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste to this).
  2. Chop the onion, garlic, and tomatoes.
  3. Heat the oil/butter in a medium pan and saute the onion and garlic till softened.
  4. Add ginger if using.
  5. Saute, adding some salt to draw out moisture.
  6. In another pan, heat some butter and fry the marinated chicken, just till crust is a pale golden color on both sides.
  7. When the onions are nicely sautéed and golden, add the chopped tomatoes as well as tomato paste and cook till moisture evaporates.
  8. Add the Bahar/ Baharat spices or equivalent, reserving some of the chilly flakes/powder for later.
  9. Add the dried lime (loomi). Stir well.
  10. Transfer the onion mixture to a larger pot, (rice cooker pot is good).
  11. Add the golden chicken to this post as well (keeping the butter/oil in the pan used for frying the chicken for later) and cook just for a minute, stirring gently till coated all over.
  12. When the oil separates, add salt and stock or water.
  13. Bring to boil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes for chicken without skin / 20 minutes for chicken with skin.
  14. Remove the chicken pieces and two large ladles of the stock to the pan previously used for sautéing the onions.
  15. Heat till the gravy evaporates, forming a thick sauce around the chicken (only 1-minute max – on high heat). You may like to add more tomato paste at this point if you like the flavor.
  16. Broil in the preheated oven for 10 minutes at around 180º C. Baste with a tiny bit of butter. The skin should get a golden and crisp (not applicable for skinless chicken).
  17. Fry the drained rice in the same butter left from frying the chicken initially.
  18. Add to the pot of simmering gravy. Cover and cook till done (water runs dry).
  19. Fluff up the rice with a fork, adding a little butter if desired.
  20. Squeeze a little lemon juice on the chicken pieces.
  21. Top the fragrant rice with the broiled chicken, boiled eggs, coriander or parsley leaves, lime wedges and toasted nuts and raisins – as desired.

Kabsa Arabian Rice


  • We often make Kabsa with and without the skin on the chicken. Leaving the skin ON is recommended for a truly moist chicken. When you do use skinless chicken, be very careful not to overcook.
  • Dried lime (Loomi) is available in the Arabian/Middle-Eastern section of your supermarket. It comes in yellow and black colors. Both are acceptable.
  • You can also dry your own limes if you are able to and have a nice yard or rooftop that facilitates this.
  • Another Rice dish similar to Kabsa is ‘Mandi’ (See Mandi Recipe), which is a Yemeni style of making Kabsa. In this, the meat is cooked in a tandoor-style oven which is made by digging a hole in the ground and covering with clay lid. The flavor can be slightly imitated by chargrilling(BBQ) your meat. (If you don’t have a ‘dug out hole oven’  in your backyard, that is!:) ).
  • And you might like to check out this more Simple version of Kabsa.

 Key Ingredients: Rice, Chicken, Spices, Dried Lime, Tomato, Garlic, Ginger, Onion, Oil, Butter, Salt.


Let us know if you tried –  Kabsa Arabian Rice

read the recipe introduction



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  1. It’s really interesting and delicious Arabian Rice Recipe. Looking forward to trying it. Nice share.

    • Thank you Shubhangi:). It is the most common rice dish in Saudi Arabia.. very different flavor from our Biryani but very comforting:)

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