Chicken Kabsa – Aromatic Yemeni Style One Pot Rice

I remember the first time I put the rice in my mouth, it opens up another door of spice combination for me. Other than my usual Indian, Malay or Chinese food, this Middle Eastern Yemeni chicken kabsa is a whole new world to me. Thanks to Mr. Paya who brought me into all these. I am now in love, very in love with kabsa, mandi, fahsa, fattah – Yemeni cuisine.

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Now, this chicken kabsa has a lot of steps, a lot of spices, a lot of patience but I can assure you and myself, it is worth it in the end. When I look at my friends’ satisfying faces, it is all worth it.

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Also, this is another of Mr. Paya’s favorite lunch pack. I am a morning person. When I open my eyes, I can cook. So, I have been cooking lunch pack for Mr. Paya quite often. Of course there will be extras for me to eat as lunch.

Chicken kabsa is definitely my favorite leftover for lunch. The aroma of different spices on the chicken and the broth soon to be absorbed by the rice when cooked together. It’s a one-pot meal filled with aromatic spices that will let your nose and mouth work happily together. A keeper in my blog definitely.

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I also like the rice to go with tomato condiment sauce. Spicy, garlicky with a hint of spice. The contrasting red color of the sauce with the dark yellowish rice. Again, feast your eyes. Then nose, then your mouth.

Chicken Kabsa (Serves 2-3 person)
Adapted from My Halal Kitchen

Spice Mix Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon of ground fennel
  • ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of ground allspice

Step: Mix all the spices and set aside.

Condiment Sauce for Chicken Kabsa:

  • 1 large ripe tomato
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ½ of a green chilli, if you want spicier then put a whole chilli
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon of ground coriander
  • A pinch of cumin seeds

Step: Blend all the ingredients with food processor or blender until smooth and fine. Chill before serving.

Rice and Chicken Ingredients:

  • ½ of a chicken, cut into 4 pieces
  • 4 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground clove or 5 cloves
  • 10 saffron threads, grind with mortar and pestle
  • 1 tablespoon of spice mix*
  • 1 dried lime or can replace with 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 2.5 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups + 1 cup of water
  • 1 ½ cups of rice (wash and soak in water for ½ an hour)


  1. Heat up a deep medium stock pot, put in vegetable oil. Once oil is heated up, put in the chopped onion. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper. Cook the onion until translucent.
  2. Add in the chicken. Cook the chicken until the chicken surface turns color (Slightly brown).
  3. Add in the chopped tomatoes. Stir and fry for a while. About 30 seconds.
  4. Add in cardamom, cinnamon, clove, saffron and spice mix. Stir and mix so that the chicken pieces are well coated with the spices.
  5. Add in 2 cups of water. Add in the dried lime as well. Bring to boil.
  6. Once it’s boiled, bring down to low heat. Cook the chicken for about 1 hour.
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  7. After 1 hour, season the chicken with salt. Please note that this chicken mixture has to be slightly salty because later you will be adding the rice to cook together with the chicken. The additional salt is to season the rice and the taste will all be balanced up at the end.
  8. Cook the chicken for another 10 minutes.
  9. Add in the rice.
  10. Add in 1 cup water. Wait… Important note: When you cook the chicken with 2 cups of water, it is estimated that after 1 hour plus, the water content will reduce to 1.5 cups. So, we need to add 1 cup of water when you add the rice to the chicken to cook. But then, everyone have different cooking conditions, so you need to adjust how much water to be added into the chicken and rice mixture. I usually use a “stupid way” (but effective) to help me getting the perfect rice. Not to dry and not to wet. Simply stick your index finger to the pot, your fingertip should touch the rice. Hopefully it’s not too hot for you. The water should cover slightly below the first line of your index finger (from your fingertip).
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  11. Bring the content to boil in high heat and then bring back to low heat. Continue to cook. This process will take approximately  20 to 30 minutes. You will see the rice absorb the chicken stock and the grain will double in size. Once you see the water content is gone, turn off the heat, let the pot sit (with the lid on) for about 10 – 15 minutes. This process is to let the rice rest and settle.
  12. Serve with condiment sauce.


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