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 my VIDEO in the Intro ↓ 

read the recipe introduction 300x81 Kabsa Arabian Rice

kabsa1 300x243 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) ‏Whole Spices for Rice: Optional: You may also add whole spice to the rice for added flavor. Add only if you dont mind picking the spices out later.

Two pans, as well as a pot, are used for this recipe simultaneously. I have color coded these for better understanding. (pan1)(pan2)(pot1). Might sound troublesome but it actually all washes up easily and gets the cooking process done much faster. Do check out the Video in the Intro for a clear picture 🙂 Non-stick pans are reccomended. I do have a Simple Version of Kabsa(Link Below) but this one is definitely worth the extra effort!


  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). Set aside while other ingredients are prepped.
  2. Combine the spice powders together for the  Baharat (Spice Mix). And set aside the additional whole spices if you would like more spice.
  3. Chop the onion, garlic, and tomatoes.
  4. Heat the oil/butter in a medium pan (pan1) and saute the onion and garlic till softened.  Add ginger if using.
  5. Saute, adding some salt to draw out moisture.
  6. Simultaneously: In another pan (pan2), heat some butter and fry the marinated chicken, just till crust is a pale golden color on both sides.
  7. When the onions in (pan1 ) are nicely sautéed: (soft and golden), add the chopped tomatoes as well as tomato paste and cook till all moisture evaporates (The tomatoes are reduced to a pulp).
  8. Add the Bahar/ Baharat spices (powdered), reserving some of the chilli flakes/powder for later.
  9. Also, add the dried lime (loomi). Stir well.
  10. Transfer the sauteed onion mixture from ( pan1) to a larger pot (pot1), (rice cooker pot is good).
  11. Remove the golden chicken pieces from (pan2) (reserving the butter/oil in the pan used for frying the chicken for later. 
  12. Add these chicken pieces to (pot 1), over the sauteed onion mixture and continue cooking just for a minute, stirring gently till the chicken is nicely coated with the sauteed ingredients.
  13. When the oil separates, add salt and stock(or water).
  14. Bring to boil. Cover (pot1) with a lid, and cook for 10 minutes for chicken without skin / 20 minutes for chicken with skin. (Also Preheat oven to 180º C, now).
  15. Remove the chicken pieces and two large ladles of the stock from (pot1) to the pan previously used for sautéing the onions (pan1).
  16. (Pan1):  Heat the chicken with this small amount of gravy, 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. Place the chicken pieces on baking tray.
  17. Broil the chicken pieces 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).
  18. Reheat the butter left from frying the chicken in (pan 2). Fry the drained rice in this briefly, stirring to coat the grains evenly. (Add the whole spices under the Baharat spice mix to this rice if you would like to flavor the rice further – optional).
  19. Add the rice to the pot of simmering gravy (pot1). Cover and cook till done (water runs dry).
  20. Immediately, fluff up the rice with a fork, adding a little butter if desired.
  21. Squeeze a little lemon juice on the broiled chicken pieces.
  22. 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 300x81 Kabsa Arabian Rice






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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:)

  2. This was absolutely delicious. I made a couple of timing mistakes, so I think it would have been even better had I followed the recipe to the T. But, again, it was really, really good! Thank you for sharing it. Even my 3 yr old & 5 yr old children ate their plateful of it!

    • That’s so wonderful to hear! Thanks so much for stopping by! Getting kids that age to eat can be a challenge 🙂 Wonderful that they liked it!

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