Chicken machboos

10 Oct

Chicken machboos

Some close friends of ours moved to Bahrain last year. Having never visited the Middle East (Turkey is the closest I’ve come), I know embarrassingly little about the countries in that region. For example, I did not know that Bahrain was a kingdom. I did not know that it was an island. And I did not know anything about Bahraini food.

I decided to start my education by making chicken machboos. Machboos (or machbous) is a popular dish in several Gulf countries. After looking at a number of recipes, I pretty much followed the one on  The Daring Gourmet website.

I used some baharat spice mix I’d made for a previous Ottolenghi recipe, but you can buy in the supermarket as well. I happened to have dried limes, from the Iran World Cup meal, when I bashed a couple in a mortar then steeped them to make an interesting dried lime tea, but I wouldn’t say they were essential to the dish.

The finished chicken machboos was impressively golden from the turmeric, and fragrant with cinnamon, cloves and rosewater. I’m always very cautious with rosewater – the right amount gives a lovely fragrance, a couple of drops too many and your dinner  tastes like a beauty product.

Chicken machboos
(serves 4)

  • 2 Tb vegetable oil
  • 8 chicken thighs (or a mix of thighs and drumsticks)
  • 3 Tb butter
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • a thumb of fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 green chilli, seeded and minced
  • 1 Tb Baharat spice
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 dried limes, pierced several times with the tip of a knife
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups basmati rice (soaked, rinsed and drained)
  • 4 Tb coriander leaves, chopped
  • a few drops of rosewater, optional
  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy, lidded pan over medium high. Add the chicken pieces and fry until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  2. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Drain the chicken fat from the pan then add the butter. Reduce the heat to medium-low and fry the onions until they start to colour.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli, and cook a few minutes more.
  5. Add in the baharat and turmeric and cook for another minute
  6. Return the chicken pieces to the Dutch oven
  7. Add in the tomatoes, dried limes, cardamom pods, cinnamon and cloves.
  8. Add in the chicken stock and stir to combine.
  9. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  10. Add in the cilantro, parsley and drained rice and stir to combine. Return to a boil.
  11. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for another 15- 20 minutes until the rice is tender and has absorbed the liquid.
  12. Remove the chicken pieces and discard the dried limes and cinnamon stick.
  13. Plate the rice, sprinkle with rose water, add the chicken pieces on top.

One Response to “Chicken machboos”

  1. Margo October 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Sounds yummy and I even have the spices on hand. Like you I have the Baharat mixed from a previous Ottolenghi recipe

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