This machboos (Omani chicken one-pot rice) recipe comes from Dina's book, Bahari: Recipes from an Omani Kitchen and Beyond (£26, DK).

Dina says: "Across most of the Gulf and in a few other Arab countries, this dish is known as machboos, meaning ‘to compress’, as the ingredients are cooked in one pot, with the meat compressed beneath the rice. In Saudi Arabia, it’s also known as kabsa, deriving from the root word kabs, which is the act of putting rice on the meat once it’s cooked. My mum has always been fond of making this dish. The traditional method takes much longer, as you would normally fry each element separately, but my mum also loves to make cooking quick and easy, so she taught me a simplified version that still yields the same taste."

Machboos (Omani chicken one-pot rice) recipe


  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, or 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 3 tsp baharat spice mix
  • 2 green chillies, halved or roughly chopped (optional)
  • 2 dried limes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1-1.5kg whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin left on or removed according to your preference
  • 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • ½ red or green pepper, chopped
  • 600g basmati rice
  • 50g blanched almonds (optional)
  • 10g coriander, finely chopped
  • ½ pomegranate, seeds only (optional)


  • STEP 1

    Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a large pan over a low-medium heat and fry the onion for 5 mins until turning slightly brown at the edges. Add the garlic, spices, chillies (if using) and dried limes. Stir well and fry for 2-4 mins, then stir in the tomato purée.

  • STEP 2

    Lay the chicken pieces in the pan and sear for 6-10 mins on each side, then add the tomatoes and pepper, followed by 1 litre of water. Season with a pinch of salt, then increase the heat to medium-high. Cover with a lid and leave to bubble for 20 mins until the chicken is cooked through.

  • STEP 3

    Once the chicken is cooked, add the rice along with the remaining oil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, then securely wrap a clean tea towel around the pan lid and put it on top of the pan – this will help create more steam and make the rice extra fluffy. Leave to cook for 20 mins.

  • STEP 4

    Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 5 mins until golden.

  • STEP 5

    Once the rice is cooked, divide the machboos between four plates. Scatter over the toasted almonds and finish with a sprinkling of coriander and pomegranate seeds.


Goes well with


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