Kabsa, UAE’s Most Famous Food
Regarded as the national dish of several Arabian states, kabsa is the beloved darling of regional cuisine. Originally from Saudi Arabia, it has spread far and wide to become a staple and duly famous in other neighboring states as well as our United Arab Emirates. Every household, region, and country has their own finger-licking good version, ranging from run-of-the-mill mixed rice to elaborate hour-long prep celebration quality.
Its basic ingredients are easy and an around the world tried and true winning combination: rice and meat. The spice mix in kabsa, however, is key and usually includes cloves, nutmeg, bay leaves, cinnamon, saffron, cardamom, and black pepper, many of which you can get at our grocery store. There’s also usually a touch of lime to get that citrus bite, either dried or fresh, green or black. You can get the spices pre-mixed but we all know it’s just not the same so if you have the time, we encourage you to mix them yourself. Most versions of the recipe include a tomato sauce or just straight up include tomatoes, all depending on what you happen to have in your pantry or what time of year it is. Other cooked veggies like carrots tend to make an appearance as well, making sure the dish hits all the really must-have points on the food pyramid. And we can round out the dish with pine nuts, raisins, onions, cashews, dates, and/or peanuts, the stuff you try to nab more of when you serve yourself, yeah, we see you.
Many ways to prepare the recipe
The meat, be it chicken, camel, or lamb (or other), can be prepared in a variety of ways, starting with Yemenese mandi, or cooked in a pit underground that is covered. Mathbi is another way to prepare the meat where it is grilled on hot stones laid on embers. Of course, sometimes you don’t have a pit or burning embers nearby, shucks, so you just have to use the oven or you can simply simmer your meat in a saucepan. That’s more than ok too. Any rice works in kabsa, but basmati rice works best, so why bother with the rest.
Food is best when eaten in company and kabsa is the perfect dish for a group. Its aromatic spices wafting, the freshly cooked meat heating up the room, the rice that’s soaked up the flavors around it, dyed by the meat and the spices to a delectable dark brown… It’s truly an all-in-one kind of food, with your carbs, your protein, and your daily vegetable intake all in the same place but not in that dreadful bland diet way. This is a wonderfully flavorful spiced and juiced up version. Put it on a big platter in the middle of the table and everybody can dig in, no separate servings necessary. It’s easy on the eye and easy on the cook (and the clean-up team).
Food Crowd carries everything you need to make kabsa this weekend, including fresh meat, vegetables, and a wide array of organic and traditional spices. Bring on the crowd pleaser, bring on the kabsa.