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Alternative namesKabsah (Arabic: كبسة), makbūs/machbūs (Arabic: مكبوس/مچبوس)
Place of originYemen[1]
Region or stateArabian Peninsula
Main ingredientsRice (usually long-grain, almost always basmati), chicken, vegetables, and a mixture of spices (cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, black lime, bay leaves and nutmeg)
Food energy
(per 200 g serving)
265 kcal (1110 kJ)

Kabsa (Arabic: كبسة kabsah) or makbūs/machbūs (مكبوس/مچبوس Gulf pron.: [mɑtʃˈbuːs]) is an Arab mixed rice dish, served on a communal platter,[2] that originates from Yemen[3] It is commonly regarded as a national dish in all the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. It can also be found in regions such as southern Iran and the Malabar Coast of India.


The name comes from the word kabasa (Arabic: كبس), literally meaning to press or squeeze, alluding to the technique used in the cooking where the ingredients are all cooked in (or "squeezed into") one pot.


These dishes are usually made with rice (usually basmati), meat, vegetables, and a mixture of spices. There are many kinds of kabsa and each kind has a uniqueness about it.

Pre-mixed kabsa spices are now available under several brand names. These reduce preparation time, but may have a flavor distinct from traditional kabsa. The spices used in kabsa are largely responsible for its taste; these are generally black pepper, cloves, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, black lime, bay leaves and nutmeg.[4]

The main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat. The meats used are usually chicken, goat, lamb, camel, beef, fish or shrimp. In chicken machbūs, a whole chicken is used.

The spices, rice, and meat may be augmented with almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, onions, and sultanas.[5] The dish can be garnished with ḥashū (Arabic: حشو) and served hot with daqqūs (Arabic: دقّوس), which is a home-made Arabic tomato sauce.

Methods of cooking[edit]

Mandi is one of the most popular ways of eating this dish. It originates from Hadramout, Yemen.[6]

Meat for kabsa can be cooked in various ways. A popular way of preparing meat is called mandi. this ancient technique originates from Hadramout.[7] Whereby meat is barbecued in a deep hole in the ground that is covered while the meat cooks. Another way of preparing and serving meat for kabsa is mathbi, where seasoned meat is grilled on flat stones that are placed on top of burning embers. A third technique, madghūt, involves cooking the meat in a pressure cooker. all these techniques originate from Yemen.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anissa Helou (4 October 2018). Feast: Food of the Islamic World. ISBN 9781526605566.
  2. ^ The Report: Qatar 2015. Oxford Business. 22 April 2015. ISBN 9781910068274.
  3. ^ Anissa Helou (4 October 2018). Feast: Food of the Islamic World. ISBN 9781526605566.
  4. ^ "Al Kabsa - Traditional Rice dish". Food.com. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  5. ^ "How to Make Kabsa". Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  6. ^ Salloum, Habeeb (2010). The Arabian nights cookbook : from lamb kebabs to baba ghanouj, delicious homestyle Arabian cooking. Suan I. Lim. Tokyo: Tuttle Pub. ISBN 978-1-4629-0524-9. OCLC 782879761.
  7. ^ a b Anissa Helou (4 October 2018). Feast: Food of the Islamic World. ISBN 9781526605566.