Kabsa is a classic Arabian meat and rice dish infused with Middle Eastern flavors and is wholesome and comforting in each bite. No wonder this delicious rice dish is the National dish of Saudi Arabia and is loved throughout the Middle East.
Kabsa is a delicious Arabian meat and rice dish that originates from Saudi Arabia and uses long-grain rice along with spices and ingredients that give it a distinct mild yet lemony flavor. You can make it with chicken, beef, or lamb, and I'm sharing one that'll give you absolutely authentic flavors at home.
What's best is that this is a one-pot meal that's not only easy to make but requires minimal effort. It's something kids and adults love, and the flavors are mild enough that you'll enjoy it even if you've never tried it before. I highly recommend you give this one a go!
🥘 INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED
You can scroll down to the recipe card for further details and instructions.
Rice: For our delicious Kabsa, we'll need some rice. Kabsa is traditionally made with long-grain basmati rice, unlike other Levent dishes. But you can also go for short-grain rice if that's what's available to you.
Lamb: We will make Lamb Kabsa since it is one of the most common and traditional Kabsa in Saudi Arabia. But you can also make this dish with chicken or beef.
Spices: Kabsa is all about the delicious spices that bring out the flavor and balance everything. This recipe will use green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon powder, black pepper, ground cumin, and coriander powder.
Dry lemon: This is what will give Kabsa that distinct lemony flavor. If you can't find dry lemon, read the cooking tips and notes below for substitute options.
🔪 HOW TO MAKE
The full instructions are in the recipe card below, but let's look at the main steps to making this treat.
In a large pan, add ghee and when it's hot, add the onion and sauté them until they turn translucent. Then add the lamb meat to the onion and cook for 3 minutes on medium heat.
Now add minced garlic and mix for a minute, then add the green chilies and stir for three more minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the dry spices. Mix well for two minutes. After that, add the tomato paste and stir for a minute, then pour the pureed tomatoes and mix until you notice the ghee separating from the sauce a little.
Pour enough boiling water to cover the meat, and to cook it thoroughly, ensure the water covers the meat by three to four inches. Let the meat cook until it turns tender. It will take 1 hour and 20 minutes, depending on how big the meat pieces are.
Keep occasionally stirring to prevent the meat from burning or sticking to the pan. When the sauce reduces and the meat is cooked, pour two and a half cups of boiling water into the pot.
Rinse and wash the rice, then let it soak in lukewarm water for 20 minutes. Drain the rice and add it to the pot. Mix well and let it come to a boil. Season as needed, and then reduce the heat to low. Add butter and cover the pan. Let it cook for 17 minutes more. Then uncover the pan and gently mix the rice.
Your delicious Kabsa is ready. Serve hot with your favorite achar or yogurt, and garnish with toasted pine nuts and raisins if you wish.
💭 COOKING TIPS
- It is best to use basmati long-grain rice for this recipe, but you can go for short-grain rice.
- If you have big lamb cuts, the cooking time will be longer.
- For more flavor, use cuts with bones.
- If you don’t have dry whole lemon, use half a teaspoon of dry lemon or one teaspoon of lemon juice. Add it after adding the rice.
- Soaking the rice for 20 minutes will help it cook faster and have a good texture.
- Instead of ghee, you can go for any cooking oil, but ghee gives better flavor.
📖 DELICIOUS VARIATIONS
Kabsa is a versatile dish that can be made with different types of meats and spices. Here are some delicious variations you can try:
Chicken Kabsa: Make it with chicken instead of lamb. You can use either boneless or bone-in pieces for this recipe. Keep in mind that the cooking time will reduce since chicken cooks faster than lamb.
Beef Kabsa: This recipe can use either boneless or bone-in pieces. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pieces.
Vegetarian Kabsa: This variation is made with vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and peas. You can also add mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini to make it more flavorful.
💬 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Kabsa is a traditional dish from the Arabian Peninsula, particularly Saudi Arabia. It is made with rice, meat (usually chicken or lamb), and a variety of spices. The spices used vary depending on the region and personal preference but typically include cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, and cumin powder.
Kabsa is an Arabic word meaning “to press” or “to squeeze”. This refers to how the ingredients are cooked together in a pot, with the lid pressed down tightly to ensure all the flavors are sealed.
No, kabsa and biryani are not the same. Kabsa is a traditional dish from the Arabian Peninsula, while biryani is an Indian dish. Kabsa and biryani are rice-based dishes, but they differ in how they are prepared. Kabsa is cooked with all of the ingredients together in one pot, while biryani is layered with rice and meat or vegetables.
🍲 MORE RICE RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
🌡️ STORING AND REHEATING
Fridge: Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freezer: You can also freeze Kabsa for up to 3 months! Simply place it in a freezer-safe container and pop it in the freezer.
Reheat: To reheat, place the Kabsa in a pot over medium heat and cook until heated. Alternatively, you can microwave individual portions for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.
- 1 ¼ basmati long grain rice
- 500 grams lamb meat with bones
- 2 medium onion chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 medium tomatoes pureed
- 2 green chilies
- 3 tablespoon ghee
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 ½ cup boiling water to cook the rice
- Enough water to cover the lamb meat and cook it
- 1 whole dry lemon
- 3 whole green cardamom
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 2 ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- In a large pan, add the ghee and when hot add the onion and sauté until translucent.
- To the onion, add the lamb meat and cook for 3 minutes on medium heat.
- Add the minced garlic and mix for a minute, then add the green chilies and stir for 3 more minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the dry spices mentioned above. Mix well for two minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and stir for a minute, now pour the pureed tomatoes and mix until you see the ghee is separating a little from the sauce.
- Pour enough boiling water to cover the meat and to cook it thoroughly, make sure the water is covering the meat by three to four inches.
- Cook the meat until tender and this will take 1 hour and 20 minutes depending on how big the meat pieces.
- Keep stirring occasionally to prevent the meat from burning or sticking to the pan.
- When the sauce reduces as shown in the video and the meat is cooked pour 2 and half cups of boiling water.
- Wash the rice until the water runs clear, then soak it in lukewarm water for 20 minutes. Drain the rice and add it to the boiling meat sauce.
- Mix and when the mixture comes to a boil again, taste it if it needs more salt, season if required then reduce the heat to the lowest, add the butter and cover the pan. Let it cook for 17 minutes.
- Uncover the pan and gently mix the rice.
- Serve hot with your favorite achar or with yogurt, garnish with toasted pine nuts and raisins if you wish.
- It is best to use basmati long grain rice for this recipe, but you can go for short grain rice.
- If you have big lamb cuts the cooking time will be longer.
- For more flavor use cuts with bones.
- In case you don’t have dry whole lemon then use half a teaspoon of dry lemon or 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
- Add it after adding the rice. Soaking the rice for 20 minutes will help it cook faster and have a good texture.
- Instead of ghee you can go for any cooking oil but ghee gives better flavor.