Today I tried my hand at Kabsa, a traditional chicken or meat dish made with rice in the Gulf and Middle Eastern countries.
In Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, however, it is almost a ‘national dish’ made all the time, everywhere, and almost always with chicken.
These dishes are mainly made from a mixture of spices, rice (usually long-grain, mostly basmati), and vegetables. There are many kinds of kabsa and each kind has uniqueness about it.
Rice : 4 cups; Prawns : 2 cups; Oil : 4 tablespoons; Water : Half glass; Onion : 4; Garlic : 6 cloves; Ginger : 1 thumb length; Green chillies (hot) 3 for those who like it hot, otherwise 1/2 a chilli; Tomato : 2; Mint leaves : 1/2 bunch; Coriander leaves : 1 bunch; Red chilli powder : 1 table spoon; Turmeric : 1/2 tablespoon; Coriander powder : 1 teaspoon; Cumin powder : 1/2 teaspoon; Cinnamon powder : 1 pinch; Pepper : 1/2 teaspoon, Garam masala : 1 teaspoon; Dry mango powder : 1 teaspoon; Lemon : 1/2
Heat oil in a wok, drop a couple of cloves, pepper, cinnamon sticks, curry leaves and a few minutes later the fresh masala mix of onion-garlic-ginger-green chilli. Add salt. When the masala starts browning, throw in a cup of cleaned and washed prawns. As the prawns slightly turn white, add the dry masala and salt.
Keep stirring for about 15 minutes, or till the prawns turn golden, coated in the masala. Lower the flame and keep stirring with care to ensure the masala does not stick to the bottom of the wok. You may add the water if you think the masala is showing a tendency to stick to the wok.
Now add the rice (precooked to about 80 per cent with salt and kept aside with two cloves and cinnamon sticks stuck in and covered) and mix with a light hand, taking care not to break the rice or the prawns.
Add finely chopped coriander (one bunch), quickly mix and close the lid. Reduce the heat to low and leave on the gas for five more minutes. Now remove and keep it closed for another 10 minutes to perk up the rice to get that sporty look.
Serve with lettuce leaves and cucumber salad and churned yogurt with mint.
In making the kabsa, I used prawns – something that is not normally done! In the process it turned out to be a fusion of Malayali, Arabic and Punjabi food. Roasted papaddum can be an accompaniment for that added twist!