Tag Archives: My Finicky Emirati Husband

Kabsa Rice

My husband has been craving Kabsah all this month.  I have made it at least 4 times this month!

This rice dish is so easy to make and is so flavorful.  I am giving you a basic recipe (which can be easily doubled or tripled!) but it can easily be jazzed up with the addition of 1 cup of frozen green peas.  I like to serve this rice with lamb (recipe will follow…I promise).

Kabsah Rice


1 cup of uncooked basmati rice (rinsing and soaking just like in this post)

1 tablespoon of corn oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

4 cloves

2 small pieces of cinnamon bark

1 teaspoon black pepper powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon caradamon powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 1/2 cups of water or stock


In a medium-sized pot, heat the corn oil and add the onion, cloves, and cinnamon bark.  Saute until the onion becomes golden.

Add the garlic, all the spices, and tomato paste.  Mix well and then add the water/stock.  Let boil a couple of minutes.

Drain the uncooked rice and add it to the stock.  Gently stir.  (Note:  at this point you can add that 1 cup of frozen green peas if you wish to jazz up your rice a little bit).

Let the rice boil until there is hardly any liquid left that you can see from the top of the pot.

Cover and turn the fire/heat to very, very low.  And cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover and let the steam dissipate and then re-cover the pot.

Rice is ready after 15 minutes.

The rice is now ready to serve!  I suggest that you turn your pot upside down onto a big platter.  My reasoning is that if you should scoop the rice directly out from the pot you will break the grains of rice and it will look mushy.  So this is what I do…

Turn pot upside down onto a platter.

Turn pot of rice over onto a platter and  separate it out with a fork or gently fluff it out with a serving spoon…Look!  No mushy rice!

Not a clear pictures…but you get the idea!


Chicken Makhtoum

My friend Noor over at Ya Salaam Cooking has a wonderful collection of tasty recipes available, MashaAllah.

A few weeks ago I tried her recipe for Chicken Makhtoum and let me tell you it is delicious!  I have cooked it at least twice already and my DH just loves the taste of it and this is what I am making for lunch today.

I double this recipe (it doubles very easily) whenever I make it because of my big family, MashaAllah.  I have made a few tweaks here in my version…I sauteed the tomatoes and added frozen garden peas for a little bit of color and also decreased the amount of tomato paste because my DH is not too keen about tomato paste.

I served this delicious chicken dish with Indian Vegetable Rice (recipe to follow in the next post).

Chicken Makhtoum (adapted from Ya Salaam Cooking)

2 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon corn oil

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 cup of yogurt

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon Arabic spice mix

2 tablespoons corn oil

700 gram  whole chicken, cut up into 4 pieces

1 cup of frozen garden peas

In a medium frying pan, saute the chopped tomatoes in 1 tablespoon of corn oil until mushy.

In a blender, add the sauteed tomatoes, onions, yogurt, salt, Arabian spice mix, and tomato paste and blend until smooth.

In a large pot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of corn oil and once it is hot add the chicken pieces and fry until golden brown.

Add the yogurt mix.  Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes and reduce the heat to low.

Add the frozen garden peas, gently stir in and then cover and let cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink.

Serve with basmati rice or nice and hot parathas.  Enjoy!

And Noor is right, this recipe would be really delicious if you substituted lamb or shrimp for the chicken.

How to cook Basmati Rice

I have a finicky Emirati husband.  Basmati rice has started many wars in my house.  

There were times my husband would refuse to eat the rice I cooked and would go to one of the public kitchens and buy a container of cooked rice to eat with the stews I cooked.

The rice was either overcooked in that it was mushy or  undercooked and still crunchy.  I used to just add water and cook it with the quick-boil method but the rice would stick together.

It has taken me years to learn how to properly cook basmati rice so that it turns out nice and fluffy.  The secret is in the size of the pot you use and how long you let the rice soak.  You need an extra-large pot to cook the rice in.  The rice needs lots of room to move around when it is boiling.

Here is my recipe:

2 cups of Basmati rice (I use India Gate because the rice has been aged and the kernals of the rice are long…plus it has a delicious taste!)

india gate

extra-large pot


1 tablespoon cooking oil

a timer

Place the rice in a large bowl and fill it up with water. 

Carefully wash the rice so that you do not break the kernals.  Cup your hand slightly and slowly wash the rice.  I turn my hand in the bowl 20 times. 

Drain the water and repeat the above two more times. 

Drain the water and then pour water over the rice again with enough water to just cover the rice by about an inch.

Now you let the rice soak for at least 30 minutes but better if you let it soak for an hour.

Meanwhile, fill the extra-large pot half way with water.  A good guide is to use 3 liters of waters for every 1 cup of rice.

Add 1/4 cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot of water.

Bring the water to a full rolling boil.

Drain the rice in a strainer and add to the pot.  Stir once.

Cover the pot with a lid and when the water starts boiling again remove the lid.  This takes about a minute.

Have a large strainer waiting in the sink to drain the rice.

Let the rice boil for exactly 5 minutes.  Trust me when I say exactly 5 minutes because if it is less time or more time it will greatly affect the texture of the rice.

Drain the rice in the strainer and gently, very gently, shake the strainer to get out all of the excess water.

Return the rice to pot and keep warm until ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve the rice.  Gently fluff the rice with a large fork or large wide serving spoon.

Arrange on a platter.

An tasty variation:

At the end of cooking the rice you have the option of adding fried onions.  It is very, very delicious!  I do not do this often because it is fatty but try to at least make it this way once.  You will need the following:

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup cooking oil

Heat the oil in a frying pan.  When hot add the chopped onion and stir.  Stir the onion every now and then until it becomes a nice golder color.

Now take a large spoon and scoop out the fried onion and scatter it over the cooked rice that is still in the pot.  Drizzle the oil that you cooked the onion in over the rice. 

When it is time to serve the rice.  You will fluff the rice and the onion and oil will be incorporated into the rice.  Yummy!

(No pictures available right now, but I will post ASAP)

Spiced Tomato Rice


This is a wonderful and an extremely easy to make and rice dish that is delicious on its own served with a side dish of yogurt as a complete vegetarian meal or as a nice complement to my version of baked chicken. 


If you are married to a finicky  Emirati husband who is reluctant to try dishes that he did not grow up with then this dish, in my opinion, with the spices I have used gives it a close enough Arab or Indian flavor that he will be used to.  I am sure that this will become a family favorite.


This recipe can easily be doubled and is terrific to take to a potluck or Ramadan get-together.


2 cups of basmati rice, washed and soaked for at least 30 minutes

2 tablespoons of ghee

½ cup of chopped onion

1 cup of chopped tomato

¼ cup of chopped cilantro

½ cup of chopped green bell pepper

1-2 cloves of minced garlic

1 green chili chopped; or deseeded and chopped (this ingredient is optional)

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

½ teaspoon ginger powder

½ teaspoon cardamom powder

¼ teaspoon red Kashmiri chili powder

1 cinnamon stick

2 Maggi chicken stock cubes

Pinch of black pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 cups of hot water


In a large pot, sauté the onion in the ghee until lightly browned. 


Add the tomatoes, bell pepper and cilantro. Stir well.


Add all of the spices, Maggi stock cubes, and tomato paste.  Mix well.


Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.


Drain the rice and then add to the pot.


Add the 3 cups of hot water.  Gently stir.


Bring to a boil.  Lower the fire to very low and cover.  Cook for 17 minutes.


Serve this with my recipes for yogurt and cucumber salad and tangy baked chicken.