I assume a culinary trip to the Middle-East would be all about spices, nutty flavors, and perfumed oil dishes. Saudi Arabia being the country of the Thousands and One Nights, it must certainly also be about festive presentation on the tables and a bit of magic in the dinner plates. Is it not? For my World Food Challenge (that I’ve left aside for a short while), I thought I’d fulfill the challenge of this week with something punchy. When life is lacking a bit of magic, I now simply spice it up, literally!
I found online several very much alike recipes that seem to be for what could be referred to as the national dish of Saudi Arabia. It is called Al-Kabsa and is basically a rice-based dish cooked with lots of Middle-Eastern spices, a mix of nuts, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and finally chicken thighs marinated in a dry-rub of flavorsome spices. The special spices mix of the Al-Kabsa combines cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. As I’m not too keen on cardamom and cloves, I’ve called for a no-go on those two (but of course you totally can go for them!), still the dish was very nice and balanced.
INGREDIENTS (for 6 servings)
- chicken thighs for 6 servings (1 or 2 thighs per person)
- rice for 6
- 4 eggs
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 tsp of tomato paste
- 1 big yellow onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- chili powder or red pepper flakes
- salt and black pepper
- mix of nuts (chestnuts, almonds, cashew, pine nuts)
- 2 tbsp of raisins
- 30 grams of butter
- 2 tbsp of oil
- 1 liter of warm chicken stock
- parsley or coriander fresh leaves for decoration
- On the night before (if you have time), marinate the chicken thighs in a dry-rub of spices. In a large bowl, combine 1 dose of coriander and 1 dose of chili powder or pepper flakes with 2 doses of cumin. Rub the chicken pieces by hand. Cover the bowl with plastic film and leave at rest in the fridge overnight.
- Hard-boil the eggs (or do it on the night before as well, while preparing the chicken marinade).
- Warm up the chicken stock.
- Chop the onion and garlic. Dice up the 2 tomatoes.
- Heat butter in a large cast-iron pan. Start cooking the chicken thighs, first skin down, a few minutes on both sides till it turns to a light golden. Remove the chicken from the pan.
- Add a bit of oil and immediately throw the chopped onion and garlic in the pan.
- After 2 minutes, add the diced tomatoes and the tomato paste. Gently cook until humidity fully evaporates.
- Pour the uncooked rice over in the pan and stir immediately, covering the rice with sauce including the greasy part (it will help frying it slightly).
- After one minute, pour just a bit of stock and stir.
- Get back to the chicken: display the chicken thighs over the rice in the pan, and cover with the warm chicken stock.
- Cover the pan with a lid (or a large aluminum foil) and cook until the rice is almost done. Gently stir from time to time.
- Take the chicken out. Add the nuts and finish cooking without the lid on to make sure no water remains in the rice.
- Turn off the gaz, put the chicken back on the rice and cover up for 10 minutes before plating up.
- In the meantime, shell the eggs and slice them up.
- Pour the rice in a large salad bowl, display the chicken on top, arrange the egg slices around, and decorate with fresh parsley or coriander.
- Serve immediately.
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi, © 2016 All Rights Reserved.