Kapsa (a rice and meat dish)

This is a rice dish made with lamb, beef or chicken,and is widely available in most Middle Eastern countries, it is an Arabian take on Pilao/Biryani and the change is so satisfying when served with the special chutney that goes with it.

For years some of the Sheikh family has resided in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the beauty of this means that we have been enjoying first hand Arabian food cooked by them and then taught to us with much patience and love.

This recipe using chicken is from the ever bustling kitchen of my youngest bhabhi/sister-in-law who produces this to a T! to be guzzled by all of us at her ever welcoming table heaving with some of the best combinations of food.


For stock

  • 2 lb chicken cut into 16 pieces
  • 4 small sticks cinnamon
  • 1 tbs whole black pepper
  • 2 tbs whole cumin
  • 2 tbs whole dry coriander
  • 3 ozs sliced onion
  • 6 whole cloves garlic

For next stage

  • 8 oz onions sliced
  • 1 cup cooking oil (any except Olive)
  • 12 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp red chillies
  • 2 tsp red chillie flakes
  • 2 mugs of basmati long grain rice – washed a couple of times then soaked in cold water for 2 hours

For chutney (optional)

  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 4 green chillies
  • 2 tbs lemon/lime juice
  • half tsp salt
  • 2 small cloves garlic


  1. Put all of the ingredients for the chutney into a blender or a chopper, blitz together until coarsely combined, take care not to over pulse. Remove into a serving bowl and store in the refrigerator.
  2. Add 6 cups of water into a deep pan, add the cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, coriander, sliced onion and garlic, bring to the boil and keep covered and on a rolling boil for 8 – 10 minutes.
  3. Add the washed chicken pieces to the pan, bring to the boil again, keep uncovered on a rolling boil for 5 minutes, switch off and cool the stock.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken pieces into a flat plate and keep aside.
  5. Strain the stock into a bowl and discard the whole masalas and onions.
  6. Put the oil in a large pan, add the onions and cook until they soften, add the tomatoes, salt, red chillies and chillie flakes. Mix well and bhun until the liquids in the mixture reduce and the oil separates .
  7. Switch on oven to GM 3-4/180C.
  8. Add the chicken pieces to the masala, and cook together on a medium flame stirring every now and then until the oil separates and chicken is bhuned and half cooked (8-10 mins).
  9. Add 4 mugs of stock, discard the surplus if any, bring to the boil and keep on a rolling boil.
  10. Drain the water from the pre-soaked rice and add them into the bubbling pot. Gently stir the mixture from top to bottom, do this just once.
  11. Let the mixture cook on medium heat, the rice will start absorbing the water and little holes/bubbles will appear on the top of the rice, once this happens, cover the pot with aluminium foil and a tight lid.
  12. Place the covered pot in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 mins, switch off and leave in the oven for 10 mins and remove from the oven.
  13. If you do not have the use of an oven, once the holes/bubbles appear on the top of the rice, seal with aluminium foil and a tight lid, reduce the heat setting to the lowest possible level, and let the rice cook tightly covered for 15mins (dhum), switch off the heat and leave to rest for 10 mins.
  14. Open the pan, and using a fish slice or small flat plate carefully mix up the rice top to bottom, this will fluff up the rice and is recommended for any type of cooked rice.
  15. Now plate up into a large flat platter and serve with the chutney.


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About Me

I am Sabiha Khokhar, born in Kenya now living in London – a busy working mother, wife, published author and passionate cook. Despite having many interests in life, my greatest joy is FOOD!

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