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Chicken Mechbous

August 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Middle Eastern


  • Chicken:
  • 1 whole fryer*
  • Salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 or 3 whole cloves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • Flour
  • 3 cups basmati rice (or other short-grained rice)
  • Onion-spice topping (hashu):
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup golden raisins, soaked in water
  • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp. grated lime peel
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • Tomato sauce (duqqus):
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tb. tomato paste


Rinse chicken inside and out. Place in a stockpot with enough water to cover. Add cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, and continue to boil uncovered over medium heat until chicken is done (approximately 40 minutes). Remove and drain the chicken, reserving broth.

Drain fat off the top of the broth and strain broth to remove spices. Prepare three cups of basmati rice according to package directions, using broth from chicken instead of water. Add salt if necessary.

While rice is cooking, cook onions in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until clear. Sprinkle with a little water and stir quickly until onions are brown and the water has evaporated. Stir in oil, drained raisins, and spices. Cook for one minute. Remove mixture from skillet and set aside.

Lightly dust the boiled, drained chicken with flour. In a clean skillet over medium-high heat, brown the chicken, turning frequently, until the outside is brown and crispy.

For the tomato sauce, add water, chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, and tomato paste in a small skillet or saucepan, and sauté until tomatoes are soft and the sauce well blended.

When the rice is done, spread it on a serving platter. Sprinkle the onion-spice mixture over the rice, and place the chicken on top. Pass the tomato sauce to spoon onto individual plates.

*Chickens in Kuwait are much smaller than in the United States; two Cornish hens can be substituted for the fryer for a more “authentic” appearance.

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