Olympic Food challenge no.7 Kuwait- Kabasa

Where is it ? 

Kuwait, is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf and is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south (at Khafji) and Iraq to the north (at Basra).

Five facts about Kuwait

  •  The name Kuwait is derived from the Arabic ākwāt, the plural of كوت kūt, meaning “fortress built near water”.
  • Kuwaiti food is primarily based on the staple product of rice.
  • Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in the world.
  • The work week is Sunday-Thursday
  • The falcon is the national bird of Kuwait

I have to say that this challenge is not helping the waistline, last night we cooked Kabasa. Kabasa is basically chicken on a bed of spicy rice. The chicken is first poached in water and then browned by frying in Ghee.

The excess Ghee and the water from the poached chicken are then used to cook the rice and vegetables.

The Kabsa spice mix was a bit of a faff to grind but I am glad to be putting the Cardamon seeds to good use. The only ingredient we struggled to find was the dried limes so I had to settle for fresh ones.

I loved the fact that there the onions and tomatoes were put within the rice it gave it a paella type consistency (his could be due to me over cooking the rice though).

This dish was amazing albeit very very fattening. The recipe said to add currants and almonds both which I omitted.


4 to 6 servings


  • Basmati rice — 2 cups
  • Chicken, cut into serving pieces — 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • Water — 4 cups
  • Salt — to season
  • Oil or clarified butter (ghee) — 3 tablespoons
  • Onions, thinly sliced — 2
  • Kabsa spice mix (see variations) — 1 tablespoon
  • Tomatoes, chopped — 1 cup
  • Dried limes (optional, see variations) — 2 whole or 2 teaspoons ground
  • Salt and pepper — to season
  • Toasted almonds, cashews or pine nuts– 1/3 cup
  • Raisins, soaked in warm water — 1/3 cup


  1. Place the rice in a bowl and rinse it with a couple changes of water. Add water to cover and set the rice aside to soak.
  2. Put the chicken, 4 cups of water and a big pinch of salt in a large pot. Set the pot over medium-high flame and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Strain and reserve the broth.
  3. Clean out the pot, and then heat the oil or ghee in the same large pot over medium-high flame. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown in batches on both sides in the hot oil. Remove to a plate and set in a warm oven while you cook the rice.
  4. Add the sliced onions and kabsa spices to the hot oil and saute until the onions have wilted, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook until the liquid has reduced somewhat, about 5 minutes.
  5. Drain the rice and stir into the pot, along with 3 cups of the reserved broth, the optional dried limes and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and then cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and let it rest, covered, for another 5 minutes.

Kabsa (Baharat) Spice Mix:

  • Coriander, ground or whole — 1 tablespoon
  • Pepper, ground or whole peppercorns — 1 tablespoon
  • Cardamom, ground or whole — 2 teaspoons
  • Cinnamon, ground or whole — 2 teaspoons or 1/2 stick
  • Cloves, ground or whole — 1 teaspoon
  • Nutmeg, ground — 1/2 teaspoon
  • If using ground spices, mix the spices together and use as needed, storing any remaining mix in an airtight container.
  • If using whole spices, toast the spices in a dry skillet over medium heat until they begin to release their aroma.
  • Transfer to a coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Use as needed and store any remaining mix in an airtight container.
Other common additions to kabsa spice mix include paprika, saffron, cumin, turmeric, fennel seed, allspice and bay leaf.
from: http://www.whats4eats.com/poultry/kabsa-machboos-recipe
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