Wednesday, October 26 –

Bahrain was a very simple, spicy, filling meal. It wasn’t terribly fancy, but it filled the house with the steamy smell of curry, and I think that’s always a good thing. I started with 2 chicken leg quarters and 2 chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken. Because that’s a lot less chicken than it originally called for, I halved the rest of the recipe.  I browned the meat first and let the pieces sit in the pot as I added the spices and the veggies, doing the browning first allowed me to not have to pull the meat from the pot and brown it in the oven at the end, which I though would have dried out the juiciness of the meat. I couldn’t find black dried limes in time so I substituted lime zest and smoked salt. I used two vine-ripened tomatoes, one seeded jalapeno, and lime juice instead of lemon on the rice (because I had already used the zest for the sauce).

When we sat down to eat we all breathed deeply, laughing at the steamed up windows in the kitchen. To me, curries and most types of food like curries are comfort food, so for a cold, stormy day it was absolutely perfect.

Things I have learned: When making curry, don’t worry about cutting the recipe in half, we will all eat leftovers for as long as they are available!

(recipe borrowed from the cooks at:

Traditional Bahraini Chicken Machboos / Machbous

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1.43 lb basmati rice
  • 3 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 -1 1/2 kg chicken
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 green hot pepper, as desired
  • 2 black dried limes
  • 2 teaspoons buharat spice mix
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 slice gingerroot, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons rose water
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 teaspoons salt

Baharat Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 Cut the chicken in half. Heat the water and leave aside. In a small bowl, mix the buharat, turmeric, cumin, and cardamom together and add to the mixture one teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture on the chicken halves.

2 Heat oil in a large cooking pan, fry the onions until golden brown, then add to the pepper and the black limes – you MUST make a hole in each limes.

3 Add the chicken to the onion mixture and turn it over a few times in the pan. Sprinkle on the chicken a teaspoon of cinnamon and the rest of the mixed spices. Turn the contents all together so the chicken is coated with the spices, cover the pan and let it cook on medium heat for 3 minutes.

4 Add the garlic, chopped ginger, and tomato cubes to the pan and turn the ingredients in the pan a few times. Cover again for 3 minutes on medium heat. Sprinkle with the rest of the salt and pour on it water while its still hot.

5 Cover the pan and let it cook for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked. Add the copped coriander 5 minutes before you remove the chicken from the stock in the pan. While the chicken is cooking, wash the rice well and soak for 10 minutes in cold water, then drain.

6 Remove the chicken from the pan and put on an oven tray, brush with some oil and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon powder and grill in the oven until the chicken is golden brown.

7 Add the rice to the chicken stock, stir, then let it cook on low heat until the rice absorbs the stock and is almost done.

8 Sprinkle rose water and lemon juice over the rice and place the butter pieces on the top. Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.

9 Serve the rice on a large serving plate and place the grilled chicken halves on the top.


About devouringworldbites

A girl on a mission to cook, eat, and write about the world, one country at a time. View all posts by devouringworldbites

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