main dishes

Chicken Machbous


This month over at the MENA Cooing Club our country is Bahrain and the host was Joanne from What’s On The List. Joanne chose Chicken Machbous as the savory and halwa as the sweet recipe. I decided to go with the savory dish this month and I made it during Ramadan for iftar a few weeks ago. If you have never heard of Machboos it’s basically the kabsa for Bahrain and they make all types such as fish, shrimp and lamb just like we do here in Saudi with our Kabsa. The word machbous comes from the method of cooking the meat and rice in the same pot.

5 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into long strips
1 small white onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teasoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 dried lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1-1/2 cups basmati rice, soaked for at least 30 minutes and drained
3 cups water

1. In an 8-quart saucepan on medium heat, add butter, onions and garlic. Allow to cook until soft, then add turmeric, ginger, coriander, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, curry powder, lime, salt and pepper, mix well and allow to cook for a few minutes on low.

2. Stir in chicken pieces and cook until lightly brown. Add tomatoes, stir, then add water. Bring to a full boil, then reduce to low and allow to cook covered for 15 minutes.

3. Add the rice and cilantro into the pan. Bring to a full boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes. Place rice on a serving platter, then add chicken and sprinkle top with chopped cilantro.

Yields: 4 servings

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Moroccan Shawarma


I have been craving shawarma the past few nights so I asked my husband to go get us one and he told me a new Moroccan Shawarma place opened up near us and if I wanted one of those instead. I never even knew Moroccans had their own shawarmas, but I love Moroccan food so I said yes. They came in a little square package like none that I ever seen and then when I upwrapped it, I knew it was going to taste great.

It was a half of a Moroccan bread stuffed full of all kinds of things. It looked so small, but the inside has so much more than a regular shawarma has and wow it was good. Filled with tiny Morrocan pickles, tons of white chicken meat, fresh veggies and Moroccan spices. I think these are my new favorite types of shawarma.



If you would have told me ten years ago one of my favorite dishes would be mashed beans I would have said you were crazy. Fast forward to know and I absolutely love foul the Saudi way. You can buy the delicious mixture everywhere and for just a few riyals, but it’s so simple to make at home so why not? I have learned the more you add on the top the better it is. You can soak the beans overnight, especially if you live in the west and cannot buy the canned style that we have in the Middle East, but if you do live in the Middle East you can buy canned foul if you would like.

Foul is served at any hour of the day and sometimes eaten for dinner instead of something heavy. It is always served with mint tea here in Riyadh. Some Arab countries serve the foul with whole beans, but the Gulf version is mixed which I like better since all the flavors are able to blend together.

1 (400 gram can) peeled foul or 1 cup dried fava beans
1 tablespoon tomato paste (for dried bean version only)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 small tomato, diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon of tahini
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of plain yogurt

1. If you’re using dried beans then soak them in a bowl full of water overnight and with a tablespoon of baking soda. The next day wash the beans, add to a saucepan making sure to cover with water, bring to a full boil, cover and reduce to simmer for 1 hour. Add more water if needed.

If using the canned version add the contents to a saucepan on medium heat with garlic and cumin, mix well and allow to thoroughly heat.

2. After the dried beans version has cooked, drain water. In a saute pan, add beans with tomato paste carefully smashing beans with fork. Add cumin and garlic, mix well.

3. Add the beans (both versions) to a bowl, then puree with an electric hand mixer. On the top add lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, tomatoes, yogurt and cilantro. Serve with fresh pita or tamees bread.