Kabsa, a classic entrée in Persian Gulf cuisine, is a flavorful mixed rice dish traditionally prepared with a blend of spices, rice, meat, and a vibrant mix of fresh herbs.
The dish reminds me a bit of an Indian-style biryani, the national dish of India, which is a layered dish with crispy onions and herbs and chicken or lamb. Some crispy onions might actually work wonderfully here in this Kabsa dish, if you want to add another step to the ingredient preparation and add the crispy onions at the end of the recipe while serving.
This recipe guides you through the preparation of this delicious Kabsa entrée from scratch, including the Kabsa Spice Blend.
Kabsa - A Mixed Rice Dish of the Persian Gulf
For the Kabsa Spice Blend:
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
For the Remaining Kabsa Components:
- 32 oz (2 lbs) boneless chicken or lamb, (cut into large pieces)
- 2 cups basmati long-grain rice
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large white onion, (finely chopped)
- 5 cloves garlic, (finely minced)
- 1 large tomato, (medium dice)
- ¼ cup dried raisins
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 4 cups water
- Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, (to taste)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, (roughly chopped, as garnish)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, (roughly chopped, as garnish)
- ¼ cup fresh mint, (rough chopped, as garnish)
- Begin by making the Kabsa spice blend.
- Combine the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and ground cloves in a bowl.
- Mix well, and set the spice blend aside.
- Rinse the basmati rice under cold water for roughly five minutes until the water runs clear.
- Drain the rice and set aside.
- In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions, and cook for roughly 8 minutes until they become fragrant and translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Add the meat to the pot, in addition to the prepared Kabsa spice blend you mixed together earlier.
- Stir well to coat the meat and onions and garlic with the spices.
- Add the diced tomatoes to the pot, stirring well to combine.
- Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes soften and begin to release their liquid.
- Add water to the pot, and season with Kosher salt.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, and then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and let it simmer for an additional 2-3 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender.
- Once the meat is completely tender, add the drained rice to the pot.
- Cover and continue to cook on low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is completely tender and has absorbed almost all of the remaining liquid.
- Plump the raisins in 1 cup of hot water for five minutes.
- After the raisins have soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, drain them from the water and dry them on paper towels.
- In a separate pan, toast the slivered almonds until they are gently toasted, and set the toasted almonds aside.
- Once the rice is fully cooked, serve the mixed meat and rice dish in bowls or plates.
- Sprinkle the toasted almonds and raisins over the top of each serving.
- Garnish each plate with a generous handful of fresh herbs.
If you aren’t someone who normally cooks with fresh herbs, consider incorporating more of them into your daily cooking. You will notice a lot more bright and fresh flavors in all of your food.
If you are inclined, you can start with whole spices, toast them gently individually, and grind them together using a spice grinder to get an even fresher flavor for the spice blend.