chicken kabsa

Chicken kabsa

I know that the name itself is intriguing. Chicken kabsa is a popular rice and meat based dish in the Middle Eastern countries, especially Saudi Arabia. With the Ramzan festival going on, this is the perfect recipe to turn a meal into a feast.

Chicken, mutton, fish and prawn are the differ options to make kabsa. But, in this recipe, I have used chicken mainly because it is our favorite as well as yours too!

For chicken kabsa, we use large pieces of bone-in and skin-on chicken. I have taken the whole leg cut of the chicken. These meat pieces are simmered in a broth containing tomatoes and other flavorful spices. The chicken is then taken out and grilled separately whereas the broth is used to cook the rice.

Generally, basmati rice is used to make the kabsa rice. It lends a very beautiful flavor to the dish. What makes this kabsa rich is the generous use of fried nuts and sultanas (or golden raisins) in ghee to top the kabsa.

You can grill the meat r even on the stovetop using a tawa. Kabsa spice mix or Bharat spice mix is prepared exclusively for this recipe. I have included the recipe for the kabsa spice mix in this post itself. But, I will also write an exclusive recipe for the kabsa spice mix and post it separately later.

I heard about this dish while we went to Mumbai. On one day, we were so hungry while just roaming around the city. Our cab driver stopped at one restaurant saying that food over there will be good. It was actually an Arabian restaurant. We ordered ‘chicken kabsa’ as the name intrigued us. So, he served this rice and meat in a large plate. At first we thought that he would give us small plates to eat from but turns out, we should eat from the same large plate only. So, we started digging in.

The rice was so flavorful and the grilled chicken was out of the world. What a combination, Sir ji?! Anyways, we enjoyed our lunch that day. I tried this recipe at home one day and it turned out so well that we fell in love with it instantly. I thought it would involve very lengthy processes but comparatively, it was easy to make too! So, it was another addition to our Sunday, fun-day meal list!

The only thing that takes a long time is the cooking process. We cook the meat in the broth for 20-30 minutes and then grill it separately. Then, we cook the rice in the broth for another 10-15 minutes. The slow cooking process gives the flavor and the taste to the recipe.

Skin-on chicken gives a crispy outer layer whilst maintaining the tenderness on the inside of the chicken. Bone-in chicken gives the flavor to the recipe. I have not used skin-on chicken. While preparing the broth, we also add whole dry lime or dry lime powder. Skip if you do not have any of these, or add a yellow lime alternatively.

chicken kabsa

Chicken kabsa is served along with a spicy Arabian tomato sauce called daqqus, which is made with hot red peppers. I have made a similar version of that with readily available Indian ingredients. However, I will share the original recipe too very soon.

Serve chicken kabsa with homemade daqqus, curd and salad. Enjoy this chicken kabsa with your family on this Eid! Happy cooking and eating! A very happy Eid to you all and your family! May this year brings lots of happiness and prosperity! Eid Mubarak!

While you are here, also look through my other chicken and biryani recipes too.

Has meal planning been a little bit difficult during this lockdown? Look through my No Veggies, 21-Day Lockdown Series for ideas on what to cook during this lockdown.

If you have tried any of my recipes, then tag @the_busy_apron and share it on Instagram with the hashtag #thebusyapron. Also tag @TheBusyApron and share it on Twitter with the hashtag #thebusyapron.

chicken kabsa

Chicken Kabsa

Abhipriya Raghav
An Arabian meat and rice recipe using spices and tomatoes mainly.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Arabian
Servings 3 servings


For the kabsa spice mix / Bharat spice mix

  • 5, 1-inch sticks of cinnamon
  • 10-12 cloves
  • 10-12 cardamoms
  • half piece of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp whole black pepper
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 3 red chilies
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp dry ginger powder

For the daqqus

  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 green chilies
  • 2-3 red chilies
  • few coriander leaves
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • salt, as per taste
  • 1 tsp oil, to cook
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp kabsa spice mix

For the chicken kabsa

  • 600 grams bone-in chicken (cut into large pieces)
  • 1.5 cups basmati rice
  • 2+2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 whole dry lime / yellow lime
  • 2 large tomatoes, pureed
  • 2-3 tbsp kabsa spice mix + extra for coating the chicken before grilling
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • salt, as required
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1.75- 2 cups water
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 10-12 almonds
  • 10-15 sultanas / golden raisins
  • handful of coriander leaves


For the kabsa spice mix

  • In a coffee grinder or a spice mixer, put all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the kabsa spice mix' and powder it.
    chicken kabsa
  • Transfer it to a bowl and set it aside.
    chicken kabsa

For the daqqus

  • Add the tomatoes, green chili, red chili, garlic, coriander leaves and salt to a blender and grind everything until smooth.
    chicken kabsa
  • In a small pan, add little oil and let it heat.
    chicken kabsa
  • Pour the pureed tomato mixture along with some water to the pan. Let it come to a boil. Add the cumin powder and the pepper powder. Mix well.
    chicken kabsa
  • Add a pinch of sugar to it.
  • Add the prepared kabsa spice mix and once it has reached the desired consistency, turn off the stove. Serve hot / warm.

For the chicken kabsa

  • Chop the onions, ginger, garlic and green chili. Also, grate the carrots and set aside.
    chicken kabsa
  • In a thick-bottomed vessel, heat 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp butter on medium flame.
    chicken kabsa
  • Wash and soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes.
    chicken kabsa
  • Soak almonds in warm water for 20-25 minutes.
    chicken kabsa
  • Puree the tomatoes and set it aside.
    chicken kabsa
  • In a thick-bottomed vessel, heat 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp butter on medium flame.
    chicken kabsa
  • When it is hot, add the onions, ginger and garlic along with some salt. Saute until the onions turn translucent.
    chicken kabsa
  • Add the chicken pieces to the sauteed onions. If using skin-on chicken, then place the skin side down.
    chicken kabsa
  • Flip the chicken pieces when it turns from pink to slightly brown on one side.
    chicken kabsa
  • Add 2-3 tbsp of the kabsa spice mix, green chilies, dry lime and bay leaves.
    chicken kabsa
  • Add the pureed tomatoes along with the lemon zest.
    chicken kabsa
  • Add 1.75 to 2 cups of water along with required salt and mix gently. Let it come to a boil.
    chicken kabsa
  • When it comes to a boil, lower the flame and cover it with a lid and cook for 20-30 minutes.
    chicken kabsa
  • After 30 minutes, remove the chicken pieces onto a plate.
    chicken kabsa
  • To the broth, add the drained rice along with the grated carrots. Discard the whole lemon. Check for seasoning.
  • Cover the vessel with an aluminium foil and a tight lid to make sure the steam does not escape. Cook the rice on a low flame for 10 -15 minutes.
    chicken kabsa
  • While the rice cooks, heat 1 tbsp oil in a tawa on medium heat.
    chicken kabsa
  • Season the chicken with some extra kabsa spice mix and some salt (if needed) on both sides.
    chicken kabsa
  • Roast the chicken on the tawa until golden brown on all sides. Alternatively grill the chicken in a pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.
    chicken kabsa
  • Meanwhile, add 1 tbsp ghee to a tadka pan and let it heat. Remove the skin of the soaked almonds and fry them in the hot ghee until golden brown.
    chicken kabsa
  • Turn off the stove and add the sultanas to the hot oil.
    chicken kabsa
  • Transfer the fried almonds and sultanas onto a plate and set aside.
    chicken kabsa
  • Serve chicken kabsa by plating the rice first topped with the roasted chicken, fried almonds, sultanas and chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with daqqus and curd.
    chicken kabsa


  • The daqqus is a thick sauce. However, if you like it thin, then adjust the consistency as required.
  • Make gashes on the chicken to ensure the flavors are absorbed even in the inside.
  • Instead of whole dry lime, dry lime powder can also be used. Alternatively you can use a yellow lime too. (the yellow lime is only usually available although dry lime or powder can be found in all gourmet stores)
  • If you do not have dry lime or powder or even yellow lime, feel free to omit it.
  • You can also replace the grated carrots with cubed potatoes or capsicum.
  • If you want to grill the chicken in an oven, then coat it with some oil to make sure it does not dry out and grill it in a pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes, flipping the chicken in between.
  • If using an oven for grilling make sure the chicken does not dry out.
  • While frying the sultanas, turn off the stove. The hot oil is enough to fry them.
Keyword arabian, chicken, daqqus, kabsa, middle eastern, rice


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