It was a dark and stormy night in Arlington…As anyone who lives in the D.C. area can attest, this week has been a mess of temps hovering around 97 with a head index of 105. Each evening this humidity brings on thunderstorms and as the third storm of the week was hitting our house, I was dealing with the storm that is my spice cabinet. In our new house, I have a very deep cabinet shelf that houses all of our dry spices…and there is a lot! With the amount of cooking I do, this shelf continues to get more chaotic and while I do have some shelf inserts from the Container Store, it continues to pose a challenge.
The reason I bring this up is that that night’s dish, Chicken Machboos (or Majboos) includes a very large amount of spices, maybe 10 in total, including something new that I had to seek out through a spice website: black lemon (which is actually kind of more of a lime, but I digress). With the exception of the black lemon, I actually had everything I needed in my cabinet. From turmeric to cardamom to coriander, this dish had a lot going on. What else was going on? A number of websites with slightly different variations of this dish, some included saffron for the rice or raisins as part of the onion topping, others had varying preferred cooking methods for this slightly more complex chicken and rice dish. I based my effort on a combination of techniques and ingredients from these two recipes: https://theodehlicious.com/chicken-majboos-recipe/ and http://globaltableadventure.com/recipe/machboos/.
One quick note about the origins of this dish. From what I could tell this dish is listed as both the national dish of Kuwait as well as Qatar, though lamb may be preferred in one of those countries, I am more of a chicken eater on weeknights. I’m claiming it for Kuwait but I find this happening a fair amount and will continue to try my best to differentiate when I can.
I elected to boil the chicken in some spices (plus the random lone cinnamon stick I found in the cabinet-score!) to make the chicken stock that the rice would be cooked in. Instead of keeping the chicken in that same pot for more cooking with the rice followed by browning, I decided to put it in the oven for the rest of the cooking time to try to get a good browning. I decided to cook the onions in a smaller amount of the spice blend I put on the chicken and then added sliced almonds as a topping, which was mentioned in some versions of this recipe.
Overall Level of Effort: 3
Skill Level: Intermediate
Would Make It Again? Yes
Additional Notes: What I most appreciated about this recipe was that I was able to pull so many of the ingredients out of my existing cabinet. I recognize that I may be an anomaly in this regard, but for my friends who cook a lot and may have some random, not everyday spices in your cabinet, I’d suggest giving this a go. While I’m not sure that I would make this entire dish again, I may take the spice blend and use it for grilled chicken in the future.