I wanted to start by thanking everyone who commented on my last post. It was heartwarming to hear from so many who also live with auto immune conditions, and to learn about the challenges they have overcome and the changes they have made to their life to find relief. It helps me to know that I am not alone in this and all I have to do is reach out to find friends. Thank you.
It was also interesting to learn that this food problem is just as prevalent in other countries. I knew it affected other countries but I had also learnt that many countries overseas had stricter laws concerning food additives and preservatives. It seems that it is not quite the case. They may be restricting some but they definitely aren’t rushing to ban all of them.
I do know that the US is the worst for what it deems acceptable for public consumption. So much so, that even China and Japan and many other European countries are restricting certain food imports from the US. I just hope our food people wake up and realise what the public really wants. Actually, we’re okay with just labelling; label the food and let people make up their own mind. Anyway, I’ll step down from my soap box now.
So, I don’t know if I ever mentioned this before, but I was actually born in Saudi Arabia. I left there when I was 6 and moved to London where I grew up. I remember a little bit of my time in Saudi, just flashes of memories. However, the ones I do remember all have to do with food. Even as a youngster, good food left a definite impression on me.
Most of the time we ate at home and that was pretty much always Indian. On the occasions we ate out or were at a wedding or event, the food was always Saudi; shawarmas, kebabs, rotisserie style chicken and Saudi rice and meat. Weddings and family meals were served Saudi style which is communal. As a child I though it was fun sharing food on a big tray, the ladies gathered around all digging into their portion of food on their side of the tray. Also, as a child born in Saudi, it was normal to me, even though we did not eat like that at home. It was different but my child mind was open to all possibilities.
This Kabsa is a Saudi dish of chicken or lamb and rice. I think it is Saudi Arabia’s national dish since it’s so loved by all Saudis and all foreigners who’ve had a chance to taste it.
It’s not particularly difficult to make but it’s has layers of flavour and thanks to the sultanas and almonds, lots of texture too. It is usually a heavily spiced dish and has a nice kick to it.
Traditionally, it’s made by cooking the chicken with spices in water and then using the broth to cook the rice. The chicken is then quickly broiled to crisp it up a little and then served atop the spicy rice often with a salsa like sauce on the side.
If I am making this for a dinner party, I like to cook the chicken and rice separately. I like to marinade the chicken with the Arabic spices and garlic and then bake it rather than boil it first. The rice I cook separately with spices and tomatoes in a chicken broth. I prefer this method only because I find the chicken stays more moist than the double cooking of boiling and broiling. Then I place the chicken and the juices over the rice and sprinkle the fried golden raisins and almonds.
However, when I crave this during a week night, I cook the whole skin on chicken in the pressure cooker with spices and then use the broth to make the rice. I cut up the chicken and quickly broil it to crisp up the skin. Weeknight Kabsa usually does away with the raisins and almonds and I serve with a salad instead of the salsa. Just as good but done in less time. Today’s post is the easy weeknight Kabsa.
I will do a post on the party Kabsa one day when I find where I put my recipe! I seemed to have misplaced my spicy rice recipe when we moved and I haven’t found it yet. This was before my blog so it’s written on some scrap of paper tucked inside a notebook somewhere in a box.
- 1 whole chicken or large chicken pieces, skin on
- 6 -8 cups water, enough to cover
- 1 onion, in quarters
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- Handful parsley
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons Bharat mix
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 2½ cups/500g Basmati rice, washed and soaked for 15 minutes
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red cayenne powder
- 3 teaspoon Bharat spice
- 4 cardamom pods
- cinnamon stick
- 1 fresh chopped green or red chilli, optional
- 5 cups reserved chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Golden raisins/sultanas, soaked for 15 minutes, optional
- Almonds, slivered or halved, optional
- 2 tablespoons butter, optional
- In a pressure cooker or a large dutch oven, place the chicken or chicken pieces, onion, carrots, garlic cloves, parsley, and the spices and cover with water.
- If using a pressure cooker, follow your cooker instructions and pressure cook for 20-25 minutes.
- If using a dutch oven, simmer the chicken until tender, about 60 minutes.
- After the chicken is cooked, slowly remove from the stock and place on a baking sheet.
- If your chicken is whole, you could cut into pieces or leave it whole.
- You can even just pull the meat off the bones and serve on top of the rice without broiling.
- Allow the broth to cool a little and strain into a clean bowl and skim off the fat.
- Reserve for the rice.
- In a large pot, add the oil and lightly brown the onions.
- Add the cardamom pods and the cinnamon stick and toss in the oil.
- Add turmeric, the cayenne powder, the Bharat spices, mix thoroughly and cook a little in the oil.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until softened.
- Add the fresh chilli if using.
- Add in the rice and toss in the oil and spices.
- Pour in the hot broth, add the salt and allow to come up to boil.
- Simmer the rice uncovered until most of the broth is absorbed and the level of broth is the same as the rice and you can see little dimples forming on the surface.
- Turn down the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
- Put on a timer.
- After 10 minutes, remove from the heat and without lifting the lid, let sit off the heat for another 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, lift the lid and fluff up the rice.
- While the rice is cooking, turn the broiler on.
- Place the baking sheet with the chicken under the broiler and cook until the chicken is crisped and browned.
- If using the almonds and golden raisins, melt the butter in a small fry pan and fry the raisins and almonds.
- To serve, place rice on a platter, arrange the chicken on top and scatter the almonds and raisins.
- Or, you can just dish it up on plates like I do with a salad on the side.
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 small cinnamon stick, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cardamom pods
½ whole nutmeg, grated
Grind all the spices together and store in a clean jar.
Hope y’all had a great weekend and are off to a great start to the week. My children are off for half term/spring break so they’re all home, being very trying. I did a big grocery shop and stocked up the fridges so they can eat themselves happy :). When they are home, that’s all they do, eat. Hope you’re having a great week!!