A few simple ingredients transform regular old white rice into an exotic, brightly flavorful pot of Lamb Kabsa! This makes a lovely addition to your recipe collection⏤just stick this recipe in your “meals that will impress!” folder. 😉
The Lamb Kabsa
Internet world meet my friend, Lamb KABSA.
Kabsa is so aromatic and exotic that if you close your eyes, you’ll be instantly transported to the streets of the Middle East. Imagine the smells wafting through the streets, then arriving home only to be greeted by a table set with a healing pile of golden jewelled rice and chunks of juicy lamb.
And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, how about a recipe that is so delicious and requires little effort?!! I don’t know about you, but I love meals that look and taste like you’ve been slaving away all day… but actually, you’ve spent the day on your sofa scrolling through Instagram and only spent 20 minutes in the kitchen (true story).
This recipe is my signature recipe; it’s the one I serve to all my guests, or anytime I just want to spoil my family.
What makes kabsa my favourite dish?
What’s not to love about each grain of rice perfectly seasoned with aromatic kabsa spices, juicy tomatoes, and onions? Only to be topped with succulent chunks of lamb, pockets of sweet raisins and crunchy nuts. It’s a big pot of goodness that’ll bring all sorts of happiness to your kitchen. All you need to know is how to boil meat & rice.
A little Kabsa history for my fellow food nerds
You have heard of this dish already; it’s not surprising since this is the national dish of Saudi Arabia. WAIT SARAH, ✋🏼 Did you just say Saudi Arabia!!! I thought this is a blog for Mediterranean recipes, Saudi is not in the Mediterranean region, it’s in the gulf!
You’re right; it isn’t known as a true Mediterranean dish. It’s Middle Eastern. However, some believe it was inspired by the famous paella from the Andalusian kingdom in the 8th century.
Some food historians believe the origins of kabsa can be found in the Spanish word “paella,” which was derived from the Arabic word “baqiyah” for leftovers.
Originally, Paella is a dish made from leftovers and was common among the servants of Andalusian kings. The story of paella started with an Andalusian king entering his kitchen and found his servants eating paella. The king requested to taste their food and found that it was very delicious, so much, in fact, he requested to know what it was. The servant informed him it was leftovers. The dish was so loved by the king he requested it to be prepared regularly.
Despite it’s believed origins, the Lamb Kabsa is made more like a pilaf than a paella. Since it’s a pilaf, it is definitely a Mediterranean dish. Pilaf is served all over the Mediterranean, especially in the Levant, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and many other Mediterranean countries.
How to make Lamb Kabsa
OK, now it’s time for a little technique! A really good Kabsa is all about basic ingredients and a little bit of technique. Just a few moments of attentiveness will ensure that your aromatic tomato-ish rice is just as fluffy and flavourful as it would be in any Middle Eastern restaurant! Here’s how easy it is to make Lamb Kabsa:
- Boil the meat in an aromatic spice bath⏤dump meat, spices, and aromatics into a pot, cover with water cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Go back to doing whatever you want, maybe catch up on some reading. When the meat is cooked⏤, strain the stock & reserve the meat.
- Rinse the rice. It’s tempting to skip this step. But don’t! Take a few extra minutes to rinse those little rice grains. You’ll end up with fluffy, separate grains instead of a mushy blob-o-rice.
- Warm some ghee & olive oil in a skillet and then add all of the onion, tomatoes, and remaining spices; sauté and then add the rice and stock.
- Simmer! Lower the heat so that it is just a gentle light simmering, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- When the rice is cooked, give everything a little fluff with a fork but do so quickly! As soon as you’ve given it a quick fluff, replace the lid so the rice can steam for a few more minutes and get gorgeously tender.
- Flip the rice out onto a big tray and decorate with meat, nuts, and raisins.
Tips for making Lamb Kabsa
- The Kabsa spice mixture. This mixture can be easily made at home in a few minutes with common spices. I’ve included the spice mixture in the recipe notes.
- Simmering the meat in water is the most traditional way to make this dish, but you can bake the meat too. If you choose to bake the lamb: You’ll need to add enough water to the bottom of the pan to ensure you have some stock left to pour onto the rice.
- Chicken, Goat and Camel can also be used. Don’t use beef or pork in Kabsa; they don’t have enough flavour to make really tasty rice.
- If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can use diced tomatoes; just drain the liquid out using a mesh colander. Please, DON’T TOSS out the tomato liquid! Use it to make your Kabsa sauce instead of using the strained tomato and water.
- How to save on cooking time. Most of this cooking for this dish dump and forget, but if you’re not a bit organized, it might take you longer than it need be. Once you started the rice and covered the pot, start cooking the kabsa sauce, hit your time for 20 minutes, and they’ll both be done at the same time. Well, your rice is taking its final rest; transfer the kabsa sauce to a bowl and start your nuts.
Frequently asked Questions
Can I prepare kabsa stock ahead of time?
If you want to boil the meat a day ahead of time, it’s no problem. Let the meat and stock cool a little bit, and then store it in the fridge. There’s no need to separate the meat, and the stock store it together.
How long will this last in the fridge? And can I freeze it?
3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Rice freezes really well. Just make sure it’s airtight and store it no longer than 1-2 months.
I can’t eat nuts. Will it still taste good?
Of course, the nuts are just a crunchy accessory to the rice. They’re 100% optional! Same with the raisins.
Where can I find Kabsa spice mix? and what is a dried black lime?
If you’re lucky and live in an area with many Arabs, you can both of these ingredients in most Middle Eastern food stores. If not, you can easily find limes online. As for the kabsa spice, you can easily make it at home.
What cuts of lamb should you use?
You can use any cut, but I find it’s best to leg and shoulder pieces cut to fit in your palm. When making the photos for this recipe, I used 1/2 a shoulder in one big piece. Once it cooled, I sliced it and fried the lamb to make it crispy. This is an optional step and one that you don’t have to do; the boiled lamb is fine served warm. Stay away from stew-sized cubes—you are looking for big chunks of meat.
What to serve with Kabsa?
- Vegetable pickles
- Pickled peppers
- Cucumber and tomato salad
- Kabsa sauce
If you liked my Kabsa recipe, then you’ll love our Chicken Mandi.Print