A few months ago my husband, kids and I were blessed to go for Umrah which is the smaller pilgrimage to Makkah, where we had a beautiful time worshiping and visiting the various historic religious sites. My sister lives in Saudi Arabia, so we were fortunate to spend some time with her family as well. From among the ton of stuff she generously gifted us, there was a container of kabsa spice mix.
Kabsa is traditional Saudi Arabian rice dish, almost always made with chicken. I wanted to try my hand at making the kabsa spice mix from scratch to see if it would turn out similar to what she gave me. Luckily, I had all the necessary ingredients already, and even though the original recipe calls for chicken, I’d already thawed some meat, so I thought to give it a go and twist the recipe a bit.
While I was making it, I realized that you could actually use this blend of spices to marinate chicken for shawarmas as well. Or maybe to bake shrimp or fish I’m sure. The blend of spices is really fragrant and fills the kitchen with a wonderful aroma.
Here’s how to make it :
Kabsa Spice Mix :
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Mix all the ingredients and keep aside.
Recipe directions :
1. Mix 1/2 tsp of salt with 1/4 tsp pepper. Take 1/2 pound of long flat pieces of steak and season both sides of the steaks liberally with the salt + pepper mix.
2. Heat a skillet, grease with 1/2 tsp oil, and place the steak on it. Make sure the heat is on high. Cook the steak for two minutes. Flip it over, turn down heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat up again, cook for one minute on high, and transfer the steak on to a chopping board. Let it rest for 5 minutes and slice thinly.
3. In a bowl, pour two tbsps of oil stir in 1 tsp of the kabsa spice mix. Add in the steak pieces and mix well. Keep aside.
4. In a large pot, melt 2 tbsp butter, add in 2 tbsp oil, 1/4 cup cooked onions, 2 tsp kabsa spice mix, 2 minced cloves of garlic, and 2 tsp minced ginger. Stir until fragrant.
5. Add in 1/2 cup tomato puree, 1 tsp salt, a pinch of saffron, the juice of one lemon, and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
6. Pour in 1 and 3/4 cup of basmati rice, stir, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to low, and cover the pot. Cook for exactly 20 minutes. DO NOT OPEN OR TOUCH THE LID.
7. Meanwhile, heat the same skillet you cooked the steak in, add in 1/2 tsp oil, and arrange the meat pieces in a single layer. Cook on high for 1 minute, turning it halfway through, so both sides get a golden brown sear. Transfer back into the bowl.
8. Once the rice is cooked for 20 minutes, turn off the heat, and add in one tbsp of butter and allow it to melt into the rice. Transfer the meat pieces to the rice and mix gently. Cover the pot for 5 minutes and let it sit to absorb all the flavors. Serve immediately.