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Friday, March 15, 2019

Kabsa chicken rice

So my cookbook is finally out, yay!.  Its been a dream of mine to create a full-colour page cookbook based on Maldivian cuisine. I believe that it is important to hold on to our food culture, keep it as authentic as possible even though I have to admit I can't live without my canned coconut milk. Big thank you to the ones who bought the book and all the sweet messages I get from some of the readers.  You can click here to read a review of the book written in a local food website, Lonumedhu
It has been ages that I have been wanting to try this recipe. My friend Anth mentioned it a couple of times and I have seen Egyptian chef Manal Al  Alem also make different versions of this Kabsa rice.
Finally, I made it during the past school holidays, on a Friday. Fridays lunches are always special in our home. Since my parents were visiting my sister who has shifted base to Auckland New Zealand  I made lunch for my family and my eldest sister's family.

I looked up two recipes on youtube. One was made by a Saudi lady while the other by an Arab guy, Chef Ahmed. So I combined both recipes. Since I didn't have dried limes I used a few slices of fresh lime.

What you will need
So to make Kabsa rice, the onions are softened and cooked till caramelized. Then the chicken pieces are added to brown a little. Then ginger, garlic, and spices are added into the mix. After sauteing them, a heaped teaspoon of tomato paste and tomatoes are added with a splash of water and the lime slices and stir for a few minutes.

After adding water, the mixture is cooked till the chicken is cooked through.  Then the chicken pieces are removed, and placed on a baking tray and then broiled in the oven for about 8 minutes.
Chicken ready to be broiled
The rice, along with the grated carrot is added into the broth that is used to cook the chicken with an extra cup of water. Cover and cook till the rice is cooked through.

Add rice and carrots and some more water
While the rice cooks, fry some raisins and sliced cashew nuts or almonds or even Kanamadhu (Indian Almonds) in some ghee or oil.

Chef Ahmed made this delicious sauce to serve with the rice. So I made some too. I made a simple sauce of tomatoes, garlic, chilli coriander leaves and lime juice along with a pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend the whole thing in a blender and pour into a serving bowl.
some delicious sauce to go with it

Finally, its time to serve. You can use the same pot that you use to cook the rice, or pile the rice on a large serving plate,  arrange the chicken pieces on top of the rice, sprinkle with the fried onions and fried raisins and nuts.
Kabsa rice, with tomato sauce and a green salad.

Yield: 4-6

Chicken Kabsa Rice

prep time: cook time: total time:
A delicious Middle Eastern rice dish. Perfect for family gatherings


Chicken and rice
  • 3 medium size or 2 large onions
  • 1 ( 1400g) chicken or 1 packet chicken drumsticks (1kg)
  • 1 1/2 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 3 large cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 heaped teaspoon tomato paste
  • 2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies sliced in half lenght wise
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (dhiri)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (kothanbiri)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamon (kaafooru tholhi)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (fonithoshi)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves (karanfoo )
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 4 slices of lime
  • 2 cups water plus extra 1 cup
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 carrot grated
  • handful raisins
  • handful nuts such as  sliced almonds, cashew nuts  or kanamadhu
  • finely chopped parsley or coriander leaves
  • oil
  • 3 tomatoes
  • small bunch coriander leaves
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 of a small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • pinch sugar


Rice and Chicken
  1. Skin and cut the chicken into large portions. 
  2. Wash the rice and soak in water for  30 minutes.
  3. Heat a large pot with about 4 tbsp of oil ( I used corn oil).  Remove a handful of the sliced onion to a bowl and add the rest into the oil and saute' to soften and starts to caramelize.
  4. Add the chicken. Stir till the chicken starts to brown a little. 
  5. Add the spices, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes, and sliced limes and along with a little splash of water. Stir from a few minutes and add 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt.
  6. Let the mixture come to boil, then lower heat and let it simmer for 30- 45 minutes.
  7. Check if the chicken is cooked. Remove to a baking sheet or tray.
  8. Place the tray under the broiler and broil, for about 8 minutes and remove. click here to see how to broil.
  9. Stir in the carrots into the broth in the pot. Add the rice. Taste the broth, to see if it needs more salt.  Add a little more water. The liquid level should be about 1 1/2 inches above the rice. Cook over medium heat, cover and lower the heat once the liquid evaporates and cook a further 3 minutes and switch off and keep covered for a few minutes. Then fluff it up.
  10. Prepare the garnish.  Heat about 4 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Fry the onions till golden. Remove onto a paper towel. Then fry the nuts and raisins and drain them on a paper towel as well.  
  11. Assemble the Kabsa, by ladling the rice to a serving platter. Arrange the chicken on top, then garnish with the fried onions, nuts, raisins, and chopped parsley
  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend to a puree. 
  2. Taste and adjust salt. 
  3. Pour into a serving bowl.
Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. This makes me feel so hungry! Love all those wonderful spices.

  2. Oh Nammi, this chicken rice dish sounds delicious...I can only imagine the flavor of the rice...thanks for the recipe. I hope you are having a great weekend!

  3. congratulations for your new book.. this recipe is exotic

  4. This looks delicious !!!!
    so good!


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