Kabsa is a Saudi dish where the meat is braised with spices and aromatics. The flavorful broth is used to cook rice. The cooked rice and braised meat are then served together. I understand from experts on this forum that Kabsa is made using chicken. The Kabsa that I have had before and read about uses lamb - so I went with lamb.
This is my second attempt at Kabsa. My first attempt was not successful and discussed elsewhere in this forum.
My second attempt at Kabsa was more a test rather than production - hence the relatively small quantity. Here's how I did it:
- I used one lamb shank that was cut in two pieces. Lightly salt and pepper and brown. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
- In the same pan, add 2 sticks of cinnamon, twelve cardamom pods, six whole all spice and twelve peppercorns. Fry lightly until the cinnamon begins to unfurl and becomes fragrant. Careful not to burn.
- Add half an onion, sliced moderately fine. Fry until the onion becomes soft and starts to brown.
- Add one tablespoon each of minced fresh ginger and garlic. Continue to fry until the ginger and garlic no longer smell raw. Again, do not burn.
- Add 2 tablespoons of kabsa spice. I bought the spice mix from my local Middle Eastern grocery store. You can also buy some on Amazon. If you search the web, you can also find a couple of recipes for the mix. Mix well and continue to fry until the spices are fragrant. For a third time - do not burn!
- Add one-quarter cup of tomato sauce and mix.
- Add 2 tablespoons of chicken bullion powder.
- Add one-quarter teaspoon of saffron.
- Add six to 8 cups of water and bring to boil. After the shanks are braised, you will need two cups of the broth to cook the rice, and have enough broth remaining so that the shanks can remain fully submerged in the broth while the rice is being cooked. This is critical, or you end up with problem lamb like I did the first time - see link above.
- Add the lamb back to the pot. Cover. Lower the heat to low-medium and simmer the lamb for 2 hours until tender.
- When about 1.5 hours are up, measure out two cups of basmati rice and rice under cold water. Continue rinsing until the rinse water runs clear. Then add enough water and soak the rice for 15 minutes. If you omit the soaking step, the rice will not cook. If you soak for much longer than 15 minutes, the rice will become fragile and the grains will break into smaller pieces.
- When the two hours are up, remove the lamb to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Strain and reserve the broth, and discard the solids. Keep 2 cups of broth separate. Return the lamb to the remainder of the warm broth and keep fully submerged until ready to serve.
- Drain the soaking rice and add to a separate pot that has a lid. Add the 2 cups of reserved broth. Add one cup of coconut milk. Yes - not Middle Eastern at all, but the coconut milk adds a wonderful richness to the rice that I like. If you are a purist, skip the coconut milk and use three cups of broth instead.
- Increase the heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce to low. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and then the lid. Cook for about 45 minutes. Do not open the lid to check on the rice during these 45 minutes.
- Remove rice to a serving dish. At this point you can add 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter, salt (if needed) and toasted almond slivers and pine nuts. Mix thoroughly.
- Place lamb on top of the cooked rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro and/or flat-leaf parsley. Enjoy!