MENA Cooking Club: Bahraini Chicken Machbous


Chicken Machbous was this month’s savoury recipe for MENA Cooking Club Members (sign up today!) to try. Chosen by Joanne from What’s on the list? 
This dish is very similar to biryani I’ve cooked before except everything is cooked on the stove instead of going in the oven. Apologies misinformation ive been informed by a dear sister biryani is authentically made on the stove.

I tried my best to get hold of baharat spice and loomis (dried black limes) but i’d already had bought numerous new ingredients this month so instead i used ras el hanout and a squeeze of lime juice.

It may not be authentic, but it was certainly flavourful and i plan to make it again and again, in sha Allah.

I looked online for more recipes of machbous and settled on this one by the daring gourmet and adapted it accordingly.

The use of cardamom and rose water in both this and bahraini halwa floats my boat.

Bahraini Chicken Machbous

Adapted from: the daring gourmet
Serves: 2-3
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes
UK Cup = 250ml


1 onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or ghee
1/2 tablespoon baharat spice mix (i used ras el hanout)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
500 grams combination on chicken legs, thighs & breast (with bone and skin)
1/2 hot green chilli, seeds intact and diced
garlic cloves, thinly sliced
120 grams fresh tomato, diced
cardamom pods, smashed
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lime, juice only
1/3 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 1 1/4 cups boiled water
1 cup basmati rice (soaked for at least 15 minutes in cold water, then drained and rinsed)
2 1/2 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped
1/2 to 1 tablespoon rose water for sprinkling (optional but highly recommended)


  1. Heat the butter/ghee in a large dutch oven or frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the chicken pieces on both sides until the skin is brown and crispy. Transfer the chicken to a plate and leave the remaining oil in the pan.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and fry onions until starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and chilli and saute for 2 minutes.
  4. Add ras el hanout, turmeric, ginger & cinnamon cook for another minute.
  5. Return chicken pieces along with cardamom, tomato and lime juice. Add vegetable stock and stir to combine. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  6. Add coriander and drained rice and stir to combine (i use a wooden fork to do this). Return it to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until this rice is done and liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Turn heat off and leave covered for 10 minutes before sprinkling with rose water, fluff rice with a fork and transfer chicken and rice to a serving dish.
MENA Cooking Club: Bahraini Chicken Machbous
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MENA Cooking Club: Bahraini Chicken Machbous

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