Chicken Machboos

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Go! Go! Go!

So the first Formula 1 weekend of 2021-22 is here, with the season starting in Bahrain. The season usually starts in Melbourne, Australia but due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it was switched to the Middle-East.

Each weekend I will be cooking at least one dish outdoors, from the country where the event is being held. After a bit of research, I opted for Chicken Machboos. It’s basically chicken and rice with many of the countries in the region having their own version of this dish.

I was tempted to try this with lamb but decided to go with chicken.

Preparation and Cook

So I made a slight error here in not lighting the Kadai Firebowl early enough. The last few cooks I have done on the fire bowl I have started it quite early. The aim is to get the wood to breakdown so you are cooking over the heat of the embers. This obviously takes a bit of time and I had a bit of a fail here. It wasn’t a disaster as doing the majority of the cook in the Petromax Dutch Oven, so the food would not be exposed to the flames.

I set the fire bowl up with the wood offset to one side slightly. I always try to have 2 zones when cooking, which helps manage the cook. It enables you to cook direct but also move to the indirect area if needed. When I bought the fire bowl, Mark Quigg advised going for the 80cm one which in hindsight was great advice. It gives a really large cooking area.

In terms of the cook, I started by melting the Ghee in the Dutch Oven and at the same time grilled the chicken directly. The idea here was to get some smoke and char onto the chicken before adding it to the Dutch Oven. It’s then a case of gradually adding the ingredients and cooking over a couple of hours.

I served this with some home-made Tzatziki and Khubz Arabi (flatbread).

The Verdict

What a fantastic dish! I was a little worried my wife wouldn’t like this one. I cooked Chicken Kabsa a couple of years ago and it was very spicy. This had a lovely flavour and did have a bit of heat but not too much. The chicken was also incredibly tender and came away easily from the bone. The added Rose Water (optional) at the end was also a really nice touch.

Chicken Machboos

Chicken Machboos, or Machboos ala Dajaj (“spiced chicken and rice”), is the national dish of Bahrain. Packed full of flavour with a lovely level of heat from the spices.
Servings 2 people
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins

Equipment

  • Fire Pit
  • Dutch Oven
  • Wood Chunks / Logs

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Drumsticks (skin-on)
  • 3 Chicken Thighs (skinned and de-boned)
  • 3 tbsp Ghee
  • 1 Large Onion (diced)
  • tbsp Baharat
  • 2 tsp Tumeric
  • 2 Green Chillis (diced)
  • 1 Ginger Cibe (frozen)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 4 Tomatoes on the vine (chopped)
  • 3 Dried Limes
  • 5 Cardamon Pods
  • 3 Cloves
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 600 ml Chicken Stock
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Parsley (chopped)
  • 2 tsp Rosewater (optional)

Instructions

  • Thirty minutes before you want to start cooking sprinkle a ½ tablespoon over the chicken drumsticks and 1 teaspoon of Tumeric over the chicken thighs and place to one side.
  • When your fire pit is ready to on, add the ghee to the dutch oven and allow it to melt. At the same time start grilling your chicken. You are not trying to cook the chicken but just impart some smoke and char. Once you have some char move to the indirect area.
  • Add the diced onion to the dutch oven and cook until it softens. Be careful not to burn the onion. This is where you may need to move the dutch oven to the indirect area to make sure it doesn't get too hot.
  • Next add the ginger, garlic, and green chilli and saute for another 4-5 minutes, making sure the ingredients combine really well.
  • Add the baharat and turmeric and cook for another couple of minutes. at this stage, I then added the chicken and mix well.
  • Now add the tomatoes, dried limes, cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves and salt, together with the chicken stock and stir to combine. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for around one hour.
  • Add the rice to a bowl of water and let it soak for 20 minutes before draining.
    Adding Rice to Chicken Machboos
  • Add the parsley and drained rice to the dutch oven and stir to combine. Return it to a boil, and simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the rice is done and has absorbed all the liquid.
  • Move to the indirect area and then cooked your bread over the direct area of the fire pit.
  • Once the bread is cooked remove it from the fire pit and plate up. Once plated up I sprinkled a teaspoon of rosewater over each plate.
    Chicken Machboos

Notes

With the dried limes, makes sure you pierce them before adding them to the mixture to allow the flavour to fully impart.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Middle-Eastern
Keyword: Chicken, Dutch-Oven, Fire bowl, Kadai

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