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Chicken Kabsa

Machboos is a Kuwaiti national dish which has three parts; the meat (which is traditionally lamb or chicken) which is really well cooked and tender, the rice that is cooked in the meat’s stock, and a topping which is made with split peas, raisins and onions.
Servings: 4



  • 1 whole chicken skin on (or two small whole chicken)
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 ″ stick cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom
  • 2 medium large onions chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 ″ginger
  • 5-7 green chillies
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 of a small capsicum cut in cubes
  • 1 bunch coriander leaves chopped
  • Few mint leaves
  • Pepper powder according to taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 cube chicken stock/ chicken bouillon
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 4 1/2 cups plus 3/4 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp Lemon juice and pepper to add while frying chicken

For the onion-lentil mix

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 of a medium onion sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • Raisins
  • Pepper
  • Salt

For the dakous/ tomato sauce

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/2 of a small capsicum chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 green chillies
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 of a chicken stock cube
  • 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste



  • Heat oil in a pan, add the whole spices and sauté for few seconds.
  • Add in the onions and sauté till the onions are soft and brown in color.
  • Meanwhile, grind the garlic, ginger and green chilli into a smooth paste.
  • Add this to the onions and sauté well.
  • Add in the capsicum and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Put in the powders and mix well. Add in the leaves and mix well.
  • Mix the chicken stock cube in a cup of boiling water. Pour this into the pan.
  • Place the chicken in this, close the lid of the pan and cook on low heat for one hour stirring occasionaly. (Notes)
  • After one hour, pour in 4 1/2 cups of water. Let it simmer on low for 30 minutes. Meanwhile soak the rice in water for half an hour.
  • Fish out the chicken pieces from the gravy and add the rice into the gravy along with 1/2 cup of water.
  • Let the rice get cooked on low heat. Check after 20 minutes if more water is required. I had to add 1/4 more cup of water and the rice was done in another 10 minutes. So 30 minutes total.
  • Rub a little pepper and lemon juice all over the chicken and shallow fry it.
  • Place this chicken on top of the rice.

To make the onion-lentil mix

  • Boil the lentil till cooked well. I preasure cooked mine f0r 10 mins.
  • In a pan, add oil and in it, fry the the onions and capsicum on high heat till the onions turn dark golden and crispy.
  • Mix in pepper and salt in the lentil and add that into the onion mix. Stir well and keep it aside.

To make the dakoos

  • Heat oil in a pan and saute onions, garlic, green chillies and capsicum till soft.
  • Blend tomatoes and pour it onto the onion mix. Add the tomato paste.
  • Add in crumbled stock cube along with the red chilli pdr and pepper powder.
  • Add salt and sugar.
  • Let it boil on low heat for about 45 minutes.


* This can be made with whole chicken too.
* While cooking the chicken for one hour, in the first 30 minutes you just have to stir twice or thrice. But in the second 30 minites, you have to stir frequently to avoid the spices from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
* After adding 1/2 cup water to the rice, check after 20 minutes if the rice has cooked well. If not, add 1/4 cup more water and cook further till the rice is done.
* After i took out the chicken, i removed the skin from it and then fried. You can fry with skin on, if you like it that way.
* The chicken can be baked or deep fried too.
* This recipe is a little on the spicy side as thats how we like it. You can adjust the heat according to your preference.