One of the things I miss the most about the Middle East is the food. I know I say that about every place I visit, but no one takes the time and commitment that Arabs do when cooking. A traditional Middle Eastern dish can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 days to prepare! My favorite dishes are typically an all-day ordeal, which is why I don’t make them often or save them for special occasions. You can definitely taste the differences when the spices have had time to be completely incorporated into a dish.
While the food is always delicious, what’s even more fun is sitting down with everyone and sharing it with the entire family. My family in Kuwait come from a more traditional/Bedouin lineage, so when we’re all together, we sit on the floor, eat with our hands and take our TIME eating. There are no TV’s in the room, no cell phones out, and we might sit and enjoy this time together for hours.
This recipe is a traditional Kuwaiti wedding recipe and can be altered as needed. The combination of the spices, rice and chicken is a soft spot for me. When I think “comfort food”, I don’t think “meat and potatoes”, I think rice and chicken or fish with invigorating spices and flavor! This recipe does inquire more ingredients than most of my other recipes, but it’s so worth it, especially if you’re feeding a crowd (and in that case, you might want to double the recipe).
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
- 2 large onions, chopped
- ¼ cup almonds, slivered*
- ¼ cup raisins
- 4 hard boiled eggs, shelled
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp dried lime (loomi)
- 1 tbsp spice mix (see below)
- 4 cardamom pods, slightly opened
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup rose water
- Safron threads
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 pieces of cinnamon bark
- 2 cloves, whole
- 2 dried limes (loomi), whole
- 3-4 peppercorns, whole
- salt, as needed
- water, as needed
- oil, as needed
Spice Mix Recipe: Kuwaiti chicken spice mix (family version)
- 4 parts black pepper
- 4 parts sea salt
- 4 parts paprika
- 1 part coriander
- 1 part cinnamon
- 1 part turmeric
- 1 part cumin
- 1 part cloves
- 1 part nutmeg
- 1 part ginger
- 1 part cardamom
Mix thoroughly and store to use as needed.
- Can omit the nuts for a nut-free version
- I personally don’t do well with hard-boiled eggs, but this is how this dish is traditionally made
- Large pan(s), lids
- Serving platter
- Rinse the rice until the water runs clear
- Soak saffron threads (a few – about 1/8 teaspoon) in half of the rosewater. Leave to soak.
- Hard boil and peel the eggs.
- Crush the garlic with 1 teaspoon of the spice mix, ground loomi’s, and turmeric together with the lemon juice and salt.
- Rub the cleaned, washed chicken both inside and outside with this mixture. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large pan and brown the onion.
- Add the rest of the spice mix (2 teaspoons) turmeric and ground loom’s together with the almonds and raisins. Stir fry for a few minutes over low heat.
- Add the rest of the rosewater, cover and leave to simmer for a few minutes.
- Stuff the chicken with the shelled hardboiled eggs and as much of the almond and raisin mixture. Keep a little of the stuffing aside to use as garnish.
- Sew up and truss the chicken
- Heat oil in another large pan and brown chicken all over.
- Add 2-3 cups pf water and bring to the boil.
- Add the whole spices and loomi’s together with a little turmeric, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer about two hours until cooked.
- Remove the chicken and the whole spices from the pan and keep warm.
- Add rice to the stock and allow to boil for a few minutes.
- Reduce heat and cover the pan. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
- Return the chicken to the pan and add rosewater and saffron. cover and simmer very low for 20 minutes. Serve with dukkous (sauce) and salad.