Kicking off with Chicken Al Kabsa
So the 2018 World Cup kicked off in Russia today, with a fantastic result for the hosts. It also meant the start of the World Cup of BBQ where I aim to cook one dish using the BBQ, from one of the countries playing that day. They were decided on Twitter and even though Saudi Arabia had a really bad day, I get to cook a Saudi inspired dish – Chicken Al Kabsa.
It has been really enjoyable doing the research for which dish to cook for each country and Saudi Arabia was no exception. There are different variations on this dish and it does seem to be one that is also popular in other countries in the middle east.
There are many recipes out there, all very similar but with little tweaks. I could not find one that was cooked on the BBQ so have done some interpretation on technique to incorporate cooking on the grill.
It is probably not 100% authentic but I really hope this captures the essence of the dish. I have never eaten Chicken Al Kabsa, but the end result of my BBQ version tasted great (although very spicy) and will certainly be a dish I will cook again, and hopefully, one day will get to eat the actual dish in Saudi Arabia.
Now for the Cook
For this version, the chicken and rice are cooked in a spice mix (although I have cheated a little and bought a pre-made Kabsa spice mix). To start this dish off I used a ceramic dish on my Weber GBS. Ideally, a dutch oven would work great, but the ceramic dish did a good job.
To cook, I started by cooking the onions and garlic in olive oil, with a couple of apple wood chunks. I gradually added the spices to the point where I had combined all the ingredients and then added the chicken for around 10 minutes to give it a covering of the sauce/spice mix.
I then transferred them to my second BBQ and used the BBQ Vortex to crisp the chicken pieces up. I added cherry wood chunks to the base of the vortex and one on top, trying to get some lovely colour into the chicken.
After removing the chicken I added the water to the sauce/spice mix. Leaving all the vents open I bought the mix to a boil and then closed the top vents, which gradually brought the mixture down to a simmer.
When the chicken had about 15 minutes from being ready I removed the sauce/spice mix and drained it through a sieve so I was only left with the liquid. I bought this to the boil and then added the rice.
And the Result?
The dish was spicier than expected. The heat was in the rice rather than the chicken. It wasn’t too overpowering but if you don’t like spicy food, the rice would provide a challenge. One thing that did lift the rice (although I missed them off the photos) was the fried walnuts – they totally gave them a different flavour. I would love to try cold smoking some walnuts and trying them in this dish.
This dish was a challenge for me. I would go as far to say it is one of the more difficult cooks I have done on the BBQ. Part of that is that it was my first time, and I am going to work on simplifying this recipe and method, without losing any of the taste.
BBQ Chicken Al Kabsa
- Prep Time30 min
- Cook Time2 hr
- Total Time2 hr 30 min
For the Chicken Al Kabsa
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 Red Onions (finely sliced
- 1 tsp minced ginger (ginger paste)
- 2 Garlic Cloves (crushed)
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 Green Chilli
- 2 Dried Bay Leaves
- 6 Cloves
- 4 Cardamom Pods
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
- ¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg
- ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- ¼ tsp Ground Cumin
- ½ tsp Ground Coriander
- 1½ medium carrots, thinly sliced
- 400 g canned diced tomatoes
- 2 Chicken Oxo Cubes
- 800g chicken (I used a mixture of thighs and drumsticks)
- 300g Basmati Rice
- 100g Raisins
- 1ltr Water
- 1 tsp Salt
- 100g Walnuts
Prepare your BBQ for indirect cooking. Whilst it is coming up to temperature finely dice the onion and finely slice the carrots and green chilli.
When the BBQ is up to temperature, heat the olive oil in the casserole dish. Add the onions and crushed garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or until the onions turn golden brown.
Add the garlic powder, ginger and green chilies. Sauté for another 5 minutes then add the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Stir well and allow them to sauté for another 5 minutes.
Stir in tomato purée and add the ground nutmeg, ground black pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander and kabsa spice. Sauté for another 5 minutes and then add carrots and diced tomatoes. Stir, and cook for 5 minutes.
Crush the chicken cubes into the mix and stir well then add and chicken pieces. I added a mix of thighs and chicken drumsticks. Stir them into the mixture well and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the mix and place to one side.
The chicken will take 30-45 minutes to cook on the BBQ Vortex.
Now add 1 litre of water to the spice mix and bring to the boil. Once the sauce is boiling close down the vents on the top of the BBQ and just allow it to simmer, stirring occasionally.
When the chicken has around 15 minutes to go, remove the sauce from the BBQ and pour it through a sieve so you are just left with the liquid. Bring it to the boil and then add the rice and cook as per the packet instructions. When the rice has 5 minutes to cook add the raisins to the pan.
As you add the raisins heat some oil in a frying pan on a medium heat, and add the walnuts. Occasionally stir to make sure they don’t burn.
Drain the rice, add the plate and sprinkle the rice with the walnuts. Add the chicken and garnish with some parsley.