Kuwaiti Chicken Mechbous and Saffron Cardamom cake

Glad I'm thinking beyond hummus and falafel from the Middle eastern cuisine.For October the Walima Cooking club chose to celebrate the Kuwaiti cuisine .
a little intro...
Located in the north-east corner of the Arabian Peninsula, Kuwait is one of the smallest countries in the world in terms of land area. The flat, sandy Arabian Desert covers most of Kuwait. Food plays a large part in Kuwaiti culture. The National Dish of Kuwait known as Mechboos (Arabic: مكبوس‎) consists mainly of mutton, chicken or fish placed over or mixed in a large mass of well-cooked and prepared rice. Food is almost always prepared and served in large amounts, and it is extremely common for households to invite guests over to share meals

Kabsa (Arabic: كبسة‎) 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, Bahrain and Kuwait the dish is popularly known as Majboos (Arabic: مجبوس‎) and in the United Arab Emirates as Machboos (Arabic: مكبوس‎), but with different spices and cooked in a different way.

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 Almond, Pine Nuts, Onions and Tomatoes. The dish can be garnished with Hashu (Arabic: حشو‎) and served hot with Dakkous (Arabic: دقوس‎) - homemade tomato sauce.

Meat for Kabsa can be cooked in various ways. A popular way of preparing meat is called 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.

Kuwaiti Chicken Mechbous
Flavored with a special citrusy spice called "Loomi"[ripe limes boiled in salt water and sun-dried until their interior turns dark.].This palatable rice and chicken dish is considered the authentic Kuwaiti food.Now "Loomi" is hard to find stores here,unless its a middle eastern store or if you order it online(search for loomi).If that sounds a lot of work then the next best substitute for loomi is the lemon zest.

For Chicken Broth
1 whole skinless chicken or 2 pounds skinless chicken with bones,trim any white excess fat
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 inch fresh ginger root,sliced
2-3 cloves garlic
3/4 teaspoon sea Salt
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
2 or 3 whole cloves
5 black peppercorns

For Pan searing the Cooked chicken
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon of spice mix(I used garam masala)

3 cups long grain basmati rice

Onion-spice topping (hashu):
1 large yellow onion, finely sliced
1 Tbsp. canola oil
¼ cup golden raisins, soaked in water
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
¼ tsp. dried black lime (loomi), or ½ tsp. lime zest
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Can also sprinkle with fresh pomegranate and chopped roasted beets(not in Original recipe though)

Tomato sauce (duqqus):
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tb. tomato paste

Cook the chicken
Rinse chicken inside and out. Place in a stockpot with enough water to cover along with all the spices in the broth list. Cover and bring to a slow boil, and continue to boil uncovered over medium heat until chicken is done (approximately 45 minutes). Remove and drain the chicken,discard the spices, reserve the broth. scoop out the fat off the top of the broth.
Cook the Rice in the Broth
Rinse the rice 3-4 times and soak for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile bring the broth(need 4 cups,add little water if needed) to a boil in a large pot,drain all the water from the soaking rice and add to the broth.Season with salt.

Prepare the Topping
While rice is cooking, cook onions in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until clear. Sprinkle with a little water and stir quickly until onions are brown and the water has evaporated. Stir in oil, drained raisins, and spices. Cook for one minute. Remove mixture from skillet and set aside.

Flavor and sear the chicken
Lightly dust the boiled, drained chicken with flour and spices. Heat a pan over medium-high heat, lightly brown the chicken, turning frequently, until the outside is light brown.

Make the Tomato sauce
For the tomato sauce, add water, chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, and tomato paste in a small skillet or saucepan, and sauté until tomatoes are soft and the sauce well blended.

When the rice is done, spread it on a serving platter. Sprinkle the onion-spice mixture over the rice, and place the chicken on top. Pass the tomato sauce to spoon onto individual plates.

Low calorie Low sugar Saffron Cardamom Cake
I had to make this lower calorie and lower sugar than the Original recipe after the sweet trials of the macaroons.Can also be made eggless with butter milk as the substitute.And more importantly use fresh ground cardamom to get the best aroma of the spice.


3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup wheat flour(not coarse ground)
Pinch of saffron threads,crushed and soaked in 2 tablespoon warm milk for 20 minutes
Pinch of turmeric
*1 Organic Egg(original recipe had 5,substituted with butter milk),separated
1 cup butter milk
1/4 cup Agave nectar or 3/4 cup brown sugar or replace half the quantity of syrup or sugar with finely chopped dates or date paste
1 teaspoon fresh ground cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or almonds

*For a complete eggless cake use 1/2 cup of butter milk instead of the one egg used.

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease a round 8-inch cake pan with light butter and line with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the egg white until light and fluffy with soft peaks.Using spatula gently fold in the syrup used or the sugar along with cardamom and turmeric.
Beat the yolk separately in another mixing bowl with the butter milk,the saffron infused milk and the oil.

Sift together the flours and baking powder together in to a large mixing bowl, then slowly fold in the egg white mixture and york mixture.

Pour in the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the nuts.Bakes for about 25 minutes until the top is light brown in color.Cool completely and slice.

To join in the Walima Club and celebrate the Middle eastern cuisine ,write to Arlette(phoeniciangourmet@sympatico.ca). >


meeso said…
That's quite a delicious looking feast! Wish I could taste it :)
Ramya Bala said…
wow gal,the readg the rice recipe itself is so temptg..and the cake looks fabulous...
mona said…
Hmm, delicious! I wish I was your neighbor.
SE(Denufood) said…
yasmeen...these are looking so delicious..hats off for the elaborate chicken recipe..
Daniela said…
Davvero deliziosa questa torta ne assaggerei volentieri una fettina, bravissima.
Ciao Daniela.
Gulmohar said…
Wow what a feast..I was trying to read but my eyes always wanted to go to the chicken..lol...:-)
chakhlere said…
Oh my god!! That chicken rice looks soooooooo yummmy!!

I am drooling here.

Cake too has come out so perfect.
Two fabulous dishes! Really droolworthy.


Renu said…
love the texture of cake !
Spice said…
Nice explaination......love that cake there...
Bharti said…
The cake sounds and looks awesome!
Prathibha said…
Lovely cake der....looks yummy..
sangeeta said…
what a feast it is...all great clicks..
sowmya.s said…
the cake looks fantastic..
Mythreyi Dilip said…
Excellent chicken recipe and cake looks fabulous!!!
Sarah Naveen said…
Wow!!! thats a gr8 feast!!!
Excellent pictures and both chicken and cake looks really tempting..
Poornima Nair said…
Yummm, that rice and chicken dish looks so tempting. Cake looks great, lovely color.
Bergamot said…
Yummy, both the dishes are wonderful. Flavour are subtle.. Delicious!!
Sushma Mallya said…
That looks very delicious esp the cake...such lovely pics...And thanks for dropping by yasmeen,hope to c u around more often...
jayasree said…
I am drooling over the cake. What a vibrant color. Thanks for the eggless tip. Bookmarked.
Anonymous said…
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Shri said…
Delicious looking cake, Yasmeen!
Arabic Bites said…
Both Majabus & cake looks very delicious :)
Cham said…
Something new to devour, all are delicious :)
Anonymous said…
The chicken sounds wonderful, I would love to try this specialty. The pomegranates add such a nice colorful touch! Delicious cake too!
Arlette said…
WOW.. The Mechboos is gorgeous.. I love the added touch of fresh pomegranate it makes too festive.

The cake looks delicious.. Thanks so much Yasmeen for doing the two challenges...
sabah said…
It looks amazing and taste amazing, colorful and tha cake is perfect, you did a great job.
Malar Gandhi said…
Kuwaiti Chicken Mechbous...is a real feast. Saffron Cake sounds tempting too.
Muneeba said…
That's a feast, no less! Perfect to impress guests at dinner parties ... I can't take my eyes off either the chicken OR the saffron cake!
Mallugirl said…
delicious looking rice and cake. the cake especially is interesting with the cardamom and saffron combination.. so is the cake a real kuwaity recipe?
Yasmeen said…
Thanks everyone!
perhaps you did not look closely,I mentioned the name of the book I referred.
Yasmeen said…
Yeah this is an famous cake in kuwaiti cuisine.
Curry Leaf said…
Nice post on Kuwaiti cuisine.Never ever thght about it.Ya you do think far beyond hummus and falafel and its for better.I too am trying out mideast recipes but kuwaiti is too new to me.Can't wait to try the cake.Looks too perfect
Parita said…
Delicious cake yasmeen..would love to grab a slice rite now :-)
s said…
what a drool worthy treat...
Latha said…
Dear Yasmeen,

If i want to make this cake with 'normal' sweetness what is the amount of sweetener to be used please? i have date syrup. can i use that in place of agave syrup?
Yasmeen said…
The quantity of sugar in my recipe is for normal sweetness,for a more sweeter cake use 1/4 cup more of sugar(white or brown).And yes, you could definitely use date syrup,note that color of the saffron would not be prominent on adding date syrup,the cake will look darker,perhaps light brown.
Anonymous said…
That looks like an authentic recipe of chicken mechbous, I have been searching for a gud recipe since a while. I did liked all your explanations and variations of this dish and their names.I would like to know whether the cardamom's are green or black? Thanks
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