I’ve always worried about posting this recipe, because it’s the Saudi National dish, although many other gulf counties also serve it among their national dishes. As someone who cooks Levantine food in her daily life, I dreaded the critique for cooking this MY WAY! But then again, every family have their own variation of it in Saudi Arabia, so I figured why not go ahead and share this.

Why do I call this my way? Because I cook it with chicken breasts and I omit the red chilies. It’s a very fragrant dish with many amazing spices, and I want my children who are now five and two and a half to enjoy various culinary dishes without over spicing them.


Kabseh is a traditional dish served in the Arabian gulf.Like many traditional dishes no to homes do it the same, everyone has their secret touch. The aromatic spices that go into this dish make it so good, especially when served with basmati rice.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Resting Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Arabic
Servings 6


  • Food processor if making side sauce.


Chicken Marinade Ingredients

  • 8 Chicken Breasts You can use a whole chicken cut into 8, i make this version for my children, so it's easier to eat it like this.
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • 1 TSP Garlic Powder
  • 1 TSP Cumin Powder
  • 1 TSP Tumeric Powder
  • 1 TSP Coriander Powder
  • Pinch Nutmeg
  • 1/2 TSP Red Chili Optional
  • 1 TSP Ground Cardamom
  • 1 TSP White Pepper
  • 2 TSP Kabseh Spices
  • 3 TSP Tomato Paste
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil

Kabseh Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil Do not use Olive, it will give a strong unwanted flavor
  • 1 Large Onion Cut into slivers
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Crushed
  • 1 CM ginger peeled and crushed
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 TSP Black Pepper
  • 2 TSP Ground Cardamom
  • 1 TSP Garlic Powder
  • 2 TBSP Tomato Paste
  • 2 Large Carrots Peeled and shredded
  • 4 Large Tomatoes Peeled and diced
  • 3 TBSP Kabseh Spices
  • 2 Cups Basmati Rice

Kabseh Sauce (Traditional but optional this is a side dish)

  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes
  • 1 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Green Chili
  • 1 Cup Coriander Leaves


Chicken Cooking

  • Mix all spices MINUS the salt to create a paste.
    Season chicken with salt on both sides and then rub with paste.
    Let it marinate for at least two hours in the fridge.
  • When ready to cook bring up the chicken to room temp by letting it sit on your kitchen counter for 30 minutes before cooking. This will retain a tender inside.
  • To cook the chicken, drizzle a grill with olive oil and bring to heat, place the chicken down until both sides are charred. Remove and allow to cool down. This will give maximum flavor to the chicken from the outside and will lock juices on the inside to keep the chicken soft and moist.
  • The next step is to bake the chicken in the oven for 20 minutes at 220 or to use an airfryer. I used the air fryer.

Kabseh Cooking Directions

  • Make sure that the rice is washed well and soaked for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Set aside.
  • Add oil to a deep pan, fry onions until softened.
    Add garlic and ginger. (I crush the ginger using the garlic crusher)
    Add cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, garlic powder, kabseh spices and tomato paste.
    Cook until fragrant, and take out the cinnamon sticks.
  • Add carrots and tomatoes cook for a few minutes and top with water until it covers just the top, and let simmer.
    Once the mixture is cooked I like to DRAIN the liquid; but do not get rid of this. This will allow me to know how much water is needed for the rice.
  • For every cup of Basmati rice you need 1 ¼ cup of liquid.
    Add the rice to the ingredients once you drain your sauce and mix. Add water to the drained sauce to ensure that you have enough liquid to cook the rice.Top with the liquid sauce and cook for 20 minutes on low heat until the rice is fully cooked

Assembly Instructions

  • To serve, place the rice on your serving dish. Top with the grilled chicken. And garnish with parsley and your choice of fried nuts.
    Serve kabseh sauce on the side. It's optional, my husband loves it, i find it to be like a side spicy salad, so it's a matter of taste on whether you want to add it to your plate or not.