Zurbian is a popular dish in Saudi and Yemen, and a descendant of the popular Biryani, the only difference really is that the typical Gulf spices are used. You can use basmati or jasmine rice for this dish, I just really like jasmine, and for both types I always buy the Tilda brand, it’s the best rice I’ve ever used. In Saudi we have 4 different zurbian dishes; chicken, lamb, fish and just the rice, they’re all cooked in different methods, but all contain the same ingredients more or less.
The Yemeni versions that I’ve read about online do not have yogurt, but have potatoes added, I’m not certain if that’s just the way they do it there, or if it’s the traditional way for Yemen, if you know please tell us!
1 whole chicken, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Gulf spice mix
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup jasmine rice
3 cardamom pods, bruised
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small piece (1/2 inch) kholegan
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 cups water
2 heaping tablespoons yogurt
1/2 small white onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. In a saute pan on medium heat, add oil. Clean and dry chicken, then sprinkle the top with salt and Gulf spice mix. Place the chicken (breasts up) in the pan, cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes, then flip and allow to cook a remaining 10 minutes. Flip again until thoroughly cooked.
2. Meanwhile, in saucepan on medium heat, add butter, cardamoms, cumin, kholegan, coriander, salt and garlic. Mix, then add rice and water. Bring to a full boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Allow to cook covered without removing lid for 22 minutes, you can turn the heat off half way through, again do not remove the lid.
3. In a small saute pan on medium heat, add olive oil and onion, fry. Place aside on a paper towel.
4. After the rice has finished cooking, add the yogurt and 2 tablespoons of the chicken fat from the pan the chicken was cooked in, mix well. In a serving platter, add rice, chicken and fried onions on top, serve.
Yields: 3 servings