HOT PLATES: Moving Still’s Kabsa Dajaj

Over the past few years, Dublin’s Moving Still has garnered remarkable acclaim for his fusion of traditional Saudi and Middle Eastern sounds with contemporary dance music, most notably for Dar Disku with his edit of Cheb Yamina’s ‘Sidi Mansour’. Here he shares a different cultural aspect of his Saudi heritage with us in the form of familial Kabsa Dajaj.

One of my favourite Saudi recipes is Kabsa Dajaj (Saudi rice and chicken). The word Kabsa means “to press”, which explains the style of cooking where all the ingredients are “squashed” into one pot.

For me, Kabsa reminds me of growing up in Jeddah and going to big family gatherings such as weddings, Eid celebrations and even funerals. The dish is usually served on a massive plate and everyone sits around it on the ground, eating with their hands.

The duration of this mix is roughly about the time it takes to cook a Kabsa. I wanted to take you through my Saudi collection with some focus on Mizmar Hijazi. Mizmar is a traditional song-and-dance performance, popular in the Hijaz region (West of Saudi Arabia). The ritual is very similar to Egyptian and Sudanese dance called Tahtib and is a tradition practised by Saudis at big events. When I hear Mizmar it reminds me of having Kabsa with family.

Kabsa Dajaj Ingredients

  • Oil for frying
  • 500g chicken breast (whole)
  • 2 x chicken stock cube
  • 2 x dry limes
  • 1 x bay leaf
  • 1 x small cinnamon stick
  • 3 x green cardamom pods
  • 6 x cloves (whole)
  • 1 x red onion (quartered)
  • 1 x bulb of garlic (whole, rinsed)
  • 1 x red chilli (topped and tailed)
  • 1 x green pepper (whole, rinsed)
  • 1.5 ltr of water
  • 5 tbsp mix baharat
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Saffron oil mixture
  • 640g basmati rice (washed)

*I usually get my mixed baharat from Saudi as every region has a different ratio of spices so nearly every time I go over it’s a different blend. I am nearly certain you can pick up a packet mix in a general “Asian” shop but here are the spices if you have them.

Mixed Baharat (Mixed Spices) Ingredients

  • 3 x tsp black pepper
  • 3 x tsp black lemon powder
  • 2 x tsp coriander
  • 2 x tsp cinnamon
  • 1 x tsp clove powder
  • 2 x tsp turmeric
  • 2 x tsp cumin
  • 1 x tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 x tsp curry powder
  • 2 x tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 x tsp onion powder
  • 1 x tsp galangal powder

Hot Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 x red chilies
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 x bunch of coriander leaves
  • Salt and pepper to tast
  • Saffron oil mixture:
  • 4 x saffron strands
  • 1 x tsp oil
  • 1 x tbsp hot water

 

Method

  1. In a large pot on high heat, heat oil and sear chicken breast on both sides.
  2. Add stock cubes and stir to break up/melt.
  3. Add dry limes, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and cloves and fry for a moment while stirring.
  4. Add onion, bulb of garlic, red chilli, green pepper, give it a quick stir.
  5. Add all of the water and bring to the boil.
  6. Add 3 tbsp of mixed baharat and salt, and stir.
  7. Turn down the heat and simmer for 45 min, covered.
  8. After 45 mins, take out the chicken breasts and place on a tray.
  9. Cover the chicken breast with the saffron oil and place in pre-heated oven (175 °C) for 5 minutes until golden.
  10. Strain the remaining mixture (Kabsa stock) so that you are left with only the liquid
  11. Taste and add more salt, if necessary.
  12. Measure out 1.05 ltr of Kabsa stock and bring to the boil in the same large pot
  13. Add 2 tbsp of baharat mix
  14. Add rice, bring to the boil again and reduce heat, simmering for 15 min, covered.
  15. When the rice has been cooking for 10 min, add the chicken to the pot but do not stir.
  16. Prepare hot sauce by combining all ingredients in a blender.
  17. Once the 15 min are up, give the pot a stir to combine and you are ready to serve. Best enjoyed with hot sauce on the side.

Yallah bil afiya 🙂