Chicken Kabsa


Kabsa is the main traditional dish of Saudi Arabia. While the ingredients may be long, this recipe is anything but hard. Each spice used in this recipe is a popular Middle Eastern spice so the combining spices make this dish about as authentic as you can get. If you’re in a rush you can substitute the spices for 1 tablespoon of Arabic Spice mix as well. I always cook chicken with the skin on as it gives your food a more natural chicken taste as well as fat. I personally do not eat it but I would suggest cooking with it on before you remove it. Every home has their own style, this is mine and I hope you enjoy.

And might I add this is the recipe that started it all and why I started my own cooking blog. My husband wanted kabsa which I had never made and all of the online versions were not right or difficult to follow. I wanted a site that had the food I like yet with easy to follow recipes.

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup of basmati rice
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tomato, diced
2 green chili’s, stems removed and slit lengthwise
2 bay leaves
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
6 green cardamom pods, whole
5 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 black limes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cardamom, ground
1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce
4 boiled eggs (optional)
Pine nuts and raisins (optional)

1. In a 4-quart stockpot on medium-high heat add onions, garlic and. Allow onions to turn golden. Add bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, black limes, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, ginger and ground cardamom. Blend well and allow to sauté for 30 seconds.

2. Add tomato sauce, tomato, chili’s and chicken bouillon. Mix well until sauce thickens, reduce heat to low-medium. Add chicken allow to sauté for a 1 minute. Rotate chicken so that it gets all of the flavors. Add water until chicken is completely covered. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low. Cook for 35 minutes covered.

5. After the chicken has cooked reserve broth for rice. In a 2-quart saucepan, add rice and enough sauce from the chicken just so that the rice is covered. Bring to a boil then immediately turn heat to low and cook covered for eight to ten minutes. Meanwhile, why the rice is cooking turn oven on high broil. Add chicken to a roasting pan and broil for five minutes or until golden.

8. Add cooked rice to a serving platter with chicken arranged on top. Garnish plate with hard-boiled eggs, pine nuts, and raisins.

Yields: 4 servings


  • Anjum says:

    lovely ..we love this dish too…plz do put the recipe of mandi as well…lovely pic

  • Mona says:

    Used to have Kabsa a lot when I was in Saudi Arab, Inshallah will give your a recipe a try. Thanks for sharing, it looks delicious!

  • Sonia says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! I have been looking for an authentic khabsa recipe for a while now.

  • Noor says:

    Anjum I have chicken mandi posted as well as how to smoke it when your done, enjoy. Glad everyone love the kabsa its am amazing dish!

  • ninoZ says:

    tried this [ with modification of cuz :D]
    turned up wonderfully..
    tq for sharing ya

  • Noor says:

    It looks great.

  • Anonymous says:

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum, I was wondering, is the can of tomato sauce the same as tomato paste or a different thing? Thank you :)

  • Noor says:

    Tomato Sauce and paste are two different things. Paste is a lot stronger.

  • Anonymous says:

    Jazaakillaahu khayran for the reply. What brand is the tomato sauce that you use? Maybe I can try and find some on the Internet. Could I also ask, should the limes be crushed before use? Cos the ones I’ve bought are whole. Sorry to keep asking stuff! Jazaakillaahu khayran.

  • Noor says:

    NO problems feel free to ask anything you may need to. You can buy a can of tomato sauce at any grocery store its no more then a couple dollars. And brand will work.

  • Noor says:

    Oh I meant to tell you that the limes are not normal ones they are dried and hard. So if you do not have those just use a small lime or lemon juice maybe like 1 tsp.

  • Kristine says:

    As-salaamu Alaikum Noor.

    I tried this recipe a while back and problem I had was with cooking the rice! I soak the rice before-hand as you said, for about 20-30min while I prepared and cooked everything else.

    So it came to adding the rice and sauce from the chicken into a pan, I did so, covered and left to cook for 10min. When I checked it, it was still hard. So I let it cook for another 10min and checked again but it was still hard.

    Any idea what I was doing wrong? Or should I just use Uncle Ben’s next time and skip the soaking of the rice?

    I’ve heard so much about kabsa that I really want to try it! But being in Britain, there is no restaurants around here that sell it so I’m going to have to figure out how to cook it on my own :)

  • Noor says:

    Wa Alaykum Salam, one of my big problems when I started cooking was rice woo lol. I found out these steps in order to get it right:

    1. Once you add the lid NEVER open it. The steam is what cooks the rice and the rice will get small holes all over the top once its done so a glass lid is GREAT for this.

    2. Make sure you use enough liquid about an inch over the rice.

    I usually put my on bring to a full boil, cover, reduce to low and just let it sit for 20 or so minute. I can tell by looking in ifs its done. You can not really give rice an exact time to cook.

    I have used Uncle Bens a lot and we love it. So yea use it :)

  • Mama Hen says:

    Jzakillahu khairan sister! I have had great success with your recipe and come back to it again and again.

    As far as my tip for rice: I bring the rice to a boil on medium high, then I simmer on medium high just until all the liquid looks like its gone (it isn’t all gone, it just looks like it, if you shake the pot you can see the liquid), then i turn the heat as low as i can and cover it and leave for 10 minutes. Then I take it off the heat and leave it for at least 20 minutes to continue steaming.

    Hope that helps!
    Mama Hen at

  • Noor says:

    I am glad you made and liked it sis :)

  • corinaj says:

    I did tried today, for the first time, the recepie, using kapsa spices, and I think I did not use enough. Because I do not know how the taste has to be, it was good, but I am sure it was not what it was supposed to be. Did you ever tried to make it with the kapsa spices? Thank you!

  • Noor says:

    You can for sure make it without the spices but it will not be kabsa just chicken and rice :)

  • Dulce fresa says:

    It looks delicious..I never tried a Saudi dish Maybe is it time to give a try to this one. Thanks for sharing!

  • Noor says:

    You should try it I am sure you would enjoy it as much as I have.

  • asina says:

    I am leaving Saudi Arabia forever tommorow I have been here for seventeen years since my birth.Am surely going to miss Arab food mandi madghoot zurbian kabsa baklava kunafa.Love you NSA.

    • Noor says:

      Are you leaving for university and where will you be going? InshAllah you love it as I am sure you will.

  • Umm rahma says:

    Salaams ukhti

    InshaAllah I’m going to try this recipe, I need clarification I’m sorry

    What do you mean by 4 quarter Stockpot!? Do I add the sunflowers followed by the ingredients!? Also can I substitute the black lime for normal lemons!?

    Jzk sis

    • Noor says:

      a 4-quart stock pot is the size and top of pot that I use like this one:

      I do not use sunflowers but I use sunflower oil when I cook and you can use any sort of oil that you like even olive. The black limes do no get it a sour taste so do not use any lemon juice just skip it that’s okay.

  • Umm rahma says:

    Also I sorry can I substitute 1 chicken bouillon cube with vegetable? I live in the uk and I not sure if I can use a chicken bouillon cube from Normal supermarkets?

  • Sam Hassan says:

    Point no 1. Blend well.. do you mean put everything in a blender and blend it or just mix everything well?

    • Noor says:

      Yes you will want to mix it in something like a magic bullet. Something like a small coffee grinder.

  • Ammara says:

    Thank you! , made this today and loved it

  • Vi Vian Woo says:

    i am definitely going to try this. what can i substitute the black limes with?

  • Priya says:

    How big is your 1 cup of rice? Like a baking measuring cup? Or a big drinking glass?

    • Noor says:

      Yea I do it the American way not the Arabic way so yes 1 cup in the measuring cup :)

  • fsiddiqui says:


    • Noor says:

      What part of Canada are you in? I was in Missasauga and the Toronto area and they sold them. They have various names like black likes, dried limes or lemons or loomi. You need to go to an Arabic market to buy them and if not you can get them online. They are used in lots of dishes like kabsa and soups, etc. I have never made them at home since I cannot smoke them, plus limes cost so much here.

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