Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken Khabsa - Chicken and Rice

This is a dish that was introduced to me a few years ago by my friend H.   It's a Chicken, beef, or lamb dish served on a bed of fluffy rice infused with exotic spices - and is a national dish of Saudia Arabia and some of the Persian gulf states.  Some regions also call it machboos.  The chicken or meat in this dish is poached with a cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and onions.  The resulting broth is then used to cook the rice.

While I absolutely love this dish - it is a bit labor intensive for a week night meal, but its worthy of a special occasion.

The spice blend can be purchased from any Middle Eastern Store or can be made using spices you may already have in your pantry.  

Khabsa or Kabseh Spice Blend

1 tbsp coarse black pepper

1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp fennel
1 tbsp allspice
1 tbsp ground cardamom
Mix ingredients together to create a well combined spice mixture. Store in a cool, dry area.

Khabsa - Chicken and Rice

2 cups basmati rice - washed and soaked for an hour

2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup raisins  soaked in 1/4 cup of water or apple juice (then drained)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup pine nuts or pistachios
3  teaspoons salt - you will use 1 1/2 for the broth and 1 1/2 for the rice
3 tablespoons kabsa spice (see above)
4-6 tablespoons butter or ghee
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chicken breasts or 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks
2-3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
5 cups water

In a medium sauce pan, combine water, chicken, 1/2 cup of onions, cinnamon stick, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer.   Cook for 45 minutes to an hour.  (This can be done a day a head of time)

While the chicken is simmering - rinse and soak your basmati rice.

In a large pot add olive oil and one tablespoon of butter/ghee.  Add the remaining chopped onions, tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes.  Then add the drained rice and the khabsa spice, 4 cups of the chicken broth, and one tablespoon of butter/ghee.  Bring to a boil then stir and cook on low heat.  Cover and allow to cook for 45 minutes. Fluff with fork prior to serving.

In a small pan, add the remaining butter and toast the pine nuts, almonds and raisins, allow to cook until they are brown and toasted.  

Shred the chicken and set aside until rice is cooked.

When you are ready to serve your meal.  Spread rice on a platter and then garnish with chicken, nuts and raisins.  Serve with salad or yogurt.

Don't let this recipe intimidate you - I promised it's super Delicious.

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