Dish of the Day: Chicken Kabsa
Thinking of a dish that is suitable for a group of people for mealtimes? Try the Chicken Kabsa, a national dish of Saudi Arabia, which is a combination of spiced chicken and rice. It has an aromatic smell and delicious flavour that you won’t forget.
It is typically garnished with almonds, raisins, and a citrusy yoghurt sauce to enhance the taste. This dish has become increasingly popular in Malaysia, as many Arabic restaurants are available throughout the country.
What is Chicken Kabsa?
Kabsa is an exotic Saudi Arabia rice dish which is a mixture of rice and meat (chicken, lamb, or beef) with nuts and raisins garnished on the top. The word Kabsa is derived from the Arabic words kabs, meaning ‘press’ which is a technique used in cooking Kabsa.
The cooking technique mentioned is that all the ingredients were prepared in the same pot though not at the same time. This dish needs to be cooked in several layers and requires some time to get the perfect combination of flavour.
Kabsa is prepared by slowly simmering the chicken in a broth consisting of tomatoes and spices. The cooked chicken is then removed and grilled, while the soup is used for cooking the rice. The rice absorbs the chicken’s broth producing a mouth-watering aromatic dish.
After the rice is cooked, the chicken is added back to the rice and is served together. Raisins, dates, and almonds are usually put on the top and accompanied by fresh cucumber, carrot, lettuce, and tomato salad.
Kabsa is a dish usually shared with a group of people. It is generally served on a round metal dish which then placed on the floor. The meal is traditionally eaten using one’s right hand though some prefer using a spoon.
History of Chicken Kabsa
Chicken Kabsa is a traditional national dish of Saudi Arabia and has been passed down from generation to generation. The Middle Eastern countries, such as Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Israel, have a rich culinary history influenced by various cultures. Their dishes are healthy and comforting, which is why the recipe is so popular in every major city in the world.
It is believed that this dish was introduced to Malaysia in the ’90s, due to the influx of Arabian workers and students. The increase of Arabic immigrants led to the spread of Arabian cuisine among the people and caused a surge of Arabian restaurants.
Exploring Chicken Kabsa Ingredients
The most crucial ingredient for this dish is chicken and rice. Chicken can be replaced with lamb or beef, depending on the recipe. The chicken is boiled in a broth filled with spices and tomato paste. Then, it is grilled or cooked in an oven to crisp it up. The chicken’s soup is then used for cooking the rice. The commonly used rice is Basmati rice which had long grains of rice compared to regular rice.
Common herbs used in this dish are cardamom, cinnamon powder, dried black lime, and cloves powder. The herbs give off an aromatic smell, delicious flavour, and also various health benefits to the dish. As a finishing touch, the chicken is topped with raisins and toasted nuts.
Usually, almonds are used in this dish, but others nuts such as cashew or pine nuts can also be used. Besides that, it is commonly served with yoghurt and cucumber salad, or a green salad.
Where to find Chicken Kabsa in Malaysia
You do not need to go far to enjoy this Arabic cuisine. You can get an original Chicken Kabsa at Ghan Restaurant (Ampang) or Chicken Kabsa prepared by smoking or grilling at Nasi Arab Ta’if (Petaling Jaya).
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