Kabsa - Arabian Peninsula Rice Dish


Kabsa or Kabseh is a rice dish similar to biryani. It is commonly regarded as the national dish in Saudi Arabia and very popular in the other Persian Gulf states such as Bahrain and Kuwait. This is my interpretation of Kabsa for the “Cook Around the Globe” challenge – Arabian Peninsula. Be adventurous and try this recipe!

Kabsa is usually cooked with some sort of meat such as chicken or lamb. I made mine without the meat. The taste was so amazing, my wife and I agreed, adding anything else would be a distraction to the savory tastiness. The fragrance of the aromatics wafting out of the kitchen while the rice was cooking was heavenly. We both had seconds. I am still in awe of how delicious this turned out.

To create this dish, I spent a lot of time reading different recipes online. There are no restaurants near us, that I am aware of, which serve food from the Arabian Peninsula. I enjoyed exploring different sites and the different combinations of spices.

This recipe has several steps and ingredients. It will take at least an hour to make.

Main Ingredients

Garnish Ingredients


  • * This is a common Kabsa mix. I couldn’t find Kabsa spice, so I made my own following a few recipes online. I used a mortar and pestle to grind the spices myself. I omitted the saffron and pomegranate powder. The dish was still amazing.
  • ** It is more traditional to use pine nuts, but I prefer the cashews.
  • *** I used a heaping tablespoon of Rapunzel Vegetable Broth and 4 cups of water.


  • Heat the earth balance and olive oil in a large stock pot and then cook the onions and tomatoes for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are clear.
  • Rinse the basmati rice and let soak for a few minutes.
  • After the onions are cooked, add the spices and dry rice.
  • Stir the mixture to get the spices and rice warm while stirring them around for a few minutes.
  • add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil
  • when boiling, cover and reduce heat to low for 45 minutes
  • fluff rice and cover for another ten minutes
  • after fluffing rice, start a second skillet to roast the garnish
  • heat the earth balance or oil and begin roasting the nuts
  • drain the raisins and add them to the nuts
  • keep the nuts moving because they can burn quickly. keep them moving until they are all uniformly golden brown
  • plate the rice and pour the garnish on top
  • enjoy!

Makes 5+ cups.


  1. WOW - this looks beautiful and the spice combinations just sound simply intoxicating. I don't know a lot about Arabian Peninsula cuisine so this post was also like a mini culinary lesson, too :)

  2. Great vegetarian version of Kabsa! I can imagine the nice crunch that you get from all the nuts. Thanks for participating in Cook Around the Globe. Hope you join again this month.

  3. That dish looks great! Almost enough to make me want to prepare it. Adding it to the annual Christmas dish list. Excellent picture of it too.

  4. Deanna: I didn't know about the food either until the challenge. Such a neat idea to explore other delicious food from around the world. The smell is intoxicating. Just eating the left overs now. so good.

    German Mama: Thanks, it was very delicious. Thanks again for the challenge. I hope to participate again.

    Sharon: It was very tasty. Tell me more about this Christmas dish list.