Thursday, September 8, 2011


Kabseh is like a rice dish that every Arab country has. Every country has their own form of kabseh and every household makes their kabseh a little different. I believe that kabseh originated from the khaleej (Saudi Arabian area) because I know they are known for their kabseh and mendhi. Like I said earlier, everyone has their own way of making kabseh, some people use mixed spices that are labeled kabseh spices, some people make their own spice mix, some people add veggies, come people make it with meat and not chicken. You cannot mess this dish up, just do whatever you want, this is how I make kabseh at home.

In a pan (same one I will be cooking my rice in) I add some oil and then I add onion and carrots that were chopped in a food processor (I use to cut it all by hand but it is the same thing) and then once the water is gone that comes out of the onion and carrot I add tomato paste and cook it until the oil separates a little and the oil has an orange color. Then I add the spices, I use kabseh spice (I will tell you the mix later if you can't find it), cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt and paper. Set this aside and make the salsa that is eaten on the side with the kabseh.
Side note: I use to add fresh tomatoes but the rice sometimes would come out soggy or dry because it is hard to estimate how much water will come out of the tomatoes and how much water you need to add to the rice so tomato paste is what I use now.
Oh so Kabseh can be eaten with yogurt or salad or nothing....OR you can make this salsa like sauce that is eaten on the side. This sauce reminds me of the sauce that we use to eat with the rice from the Mendhi that my aunt would buy whenever we went to Bouqain (It was made by khaleeji restaurant). Anyways, if you haven't tried this before, it is really good so I suggest you make it at least once.
So I chop the tomatoes a little just to get them going then I add cilantro, garlic, a little bit of onion, a fresh jalapeno (or some cayenne pepper if you don't have a jalapeno on hand) and salt.
At the end I add a squeeze of lemon juice.
Place it in the fridge and let the flavors mix (the garlic and jalapeno flavors will come out more so don't add more garlic and jalapeno at this point until you let it sit for at least 30 minutes)
This is my rice cup, I use it to measure everything (even though I have measuring cups, it keeps me feeling like I am cooking Syrian food properly). I measured the amount of rice in my cup so I could write it on this blog and it is exactly 1 cup.
Wash the rice and add it to the carrot, onion, tomato paste and spice mix.
This is optional but most people do add it. I add raisins (not the black ones), just soak them for about 10 minutes and add them to the rice along with the chicken stock. (I cook chicken the same way I have in previous posts so I didn't show how here)
Add the chicken stock and cook on medium until the water is level with the rice then cover the pot and turn the heat down to the lowest setting for about 10 or 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked all the way through.
Arabs love to add nuts to their dishes so you can add any kind you want, these are my favorite: pine nuts, almonds and pistachios. You can also add cashews and some people add the raisins on top (rather then in the rice) after sautéing in some butter.
Serve the chicken on top along with the nuts and salsa. When I have a party I would usually take chicken and roast it in the oven and just use boxed chicken stock for the rice because it presents better but this is how I make it at home. Some people remove the chicken after it has been cooked thoroughly and place it in a pan with some oil and just brown and crisp up the chicken skin.

Written Recipe:

5 big whole tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 of a small onion
jalapeno (seeds removed and either use half or whole depending on how spicy you want it)
2 bunches of washed cilantro stems included

2 cups of basmati rice
1 whole carrot chopped
1 whole onion chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of Kabseh spice
1/4 teaspoon of cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of mixed arabic spice
dash of nutmeg and ground cloves
salt and pepper
1/4 cup of raisins soaked for 10 minutes
3 cups of chicken stock

Nuts for garnish

Kabseh spice mix that I use when I don't have kabseh spice mix
1 teaspoon of ground dry ginger
1 teaspoon of curry powder
1/4 teaspoon of fennel
1 teaspoon of coriander
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of mixed arabic spice