Kabsa is a family of rice dishes that are
served mostly in Saudi Arabia - where it is commonly regarded as a national dish
- and the other Arab states of the Persian Gulf. In places like Qatar,
and Kuwait the dish is popularly known as Majboos and in the
United Arab Emirates as Machboos, served mostly in the same
These dishes are mainly made from a mixture of spices, rice (usually long-grain
basmati), meat and vegetables. There are many kinds of Kabsa and each kind has a
uniqueness about it. Pre-mixed Kabsa spices are now available under several
brand names. These reduce preparation time but may have a flavour distinct from
traditional Kabsa. The spices used in Kabsa are largely responsible for its
taste; these are generally Black Pepper, Cloves, Cardamom, Saffron, Cinnamon,
Black lime, Bay Leaves and Nutmeg.
The main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat,
such as chicken, goat, lamb, camel, or sometimes beef, fish, and shrimp. In
chicken machboos, a whole chicken is used. The spices, rice and meat may be
augmented with Almonds, Pine nuts, Onions and Tomatoes. The dish can be served hot with
Dakkous - homemade tomato sauce.
Meat for Kabsa can be cooked in various ways. A popular way of preparing meat is
Mandi. This is an ancient technique, whereby meat is barbecued in a deep
hole in the ground that is covered while the meat cooks. Another way of
preparing and serving meat for Kabsa is Mathbi, where seasoned meat is grilled
on flat stones that are placed on top of burning embers. A third technique,
Madghoot, involves cooking the meat in a Pressure cooker.