This is hands down the most requested drink by my family, friends, and my very picky children. This watermelon cooler is refreshing, hydrating, cooling, and tastes like a tropical drink you’d enjoy on vacation. In my Vitamix blender, I throw in cubes of fresh watermelon, […]
This turmeric and herb chicken soup is a clean, wholesome, and hearty bowl of comfort to help anyone get through the winter blues or recover from the cold and flu season. This golden soup yields a flavorful and nutrient dense bone broth that is simmered […]
Kabsa is one of my favorite dishes. This Middle Eastern rice dish is considered the national dish of Saudi cuisine and it has variations throughout the Arab countries. My version is a beautiful and bountiful plate of rice cooked in onions, carrots, tomatoes, and garlic, coated in all kinds sweet and earthy spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and ginger speckled with juicy red cranberries and sweet raisins. The delicious flavors of kabsa rice cooked in these aromatic spices, root vegetables, and topped with crispy roasted chicken is the classic that I often make during this time of year. It is an easy dish to make in huge quantities, and everyone loves it. This plant based version replaces the chicken completely with a gorgeous roasted squash. The flavor and colorful presentation of the crispy roasted squash stuffed with kabsa rice is so stunning, nobody will notice the chicken is missing! Besides, to accommodate all, I still serve the kabsa marinated chicken on the side. I’ll be posting the classic chicken kabsa later this week as I am serving it for Thanksgiving. Stay tuned!
A word on ingredients
The spices I use in the recipe may possibly be found in any Middle Eastern markets as a single spice combination called “kabsa spices” although the combination and quality may vary. I like to combine my own individual high quality spices to control the flavors, and here I have nice balance of sweet and spicy with the cinnamon and ginger. Try combining the spices as I suggest in the recipe below and be sure to use the freshest you can get. Some people prefer to toss in whole cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom pods, which is completely fine as well! Just be sure to remove them before serving so nobody has an unpleasant surprise as they eat. In my mom’s house, my brother was always the lucky one to crunch a cardamom pod in his mouth 😀
My initial vision to create this dish was with an acorn squash. Its gorgeous deep green hue splashed with some yellows and orange is a nice complement to the dish, and the squash is also tastier and creamier in texture than a pumpkin. When I had to make a large rice dish for a school potluck last week, I wanted to have my kabseh stuffed squash make its debut, and I only had orange sugar pumpkins. So an exploding pumpkin full of kabseh rice it was. It was gorgeous, tasty, and the students and parents loved it! I don’t think many children would have recognized an acorn squash anyway. Both pumpkin and acorn squash have beautiful ridges that you can slice down when serving. Use what you think you would enjoy! Be sure to choose a pretty shaped gourd with a flat bottom and a long stem if possible; for some reason none of the pumpkins in my grocery store had long stems. Meh.
I was inspired to cut the pumpkin with a star-shaped cap when I saw this gorgeous Armenian Ghapama on Dining in Diaspora. She clearly is more skilled at cutting lovely designs than I am- so be sure to take a look. I love the sweeter version of her classic recipe used by Armenian tradition here and it shows that you can really make this rice in your own way to suit your preferences.
Kabsa Rice Stuffed in Squash
- 1 squash such as sugar pumpkin or acorn squash
- 4 tbsp safflower or olive oil
- 1 c carrots, chopped (about 2-3 large carrots)
- 1 c chopped onion (about 1/2 an onion)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp shallot, minced
- 1/2 c tomato, diced (about 1 tomato)
- 3 c long grain or basmati rice
- 1 tsp all spice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 c dried cranberries
- 1/2 c golden raisins
- 1/2 c pumpkin seeds or almonds(optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F).
- Wash the rice in cold water and then let it soak for 20-30 minutes. This speeds up the cook time and reduces any excess starch that causes clumpy rice.
- Wash the squash well, and cut off the top where the stem is. Carefully hollow out the inside by removing the seeds and stringy pieces. Save the seeds to toast later. Rub the outside and top of the squash with 1 tbsp of oil and set it on a pan.
- In a heavy bottom pot, heat 2 tbsp of oil and sauté the onions and shallots until they begin to yellow. Add the carrots, followed by the garlic and tomatoes until softened.
- Drain the rice and add to the vegetables in the pot. Toss in the spices until it is well coated.
- Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat down to low and cover. Check the rice in 5 minutes. The water should be absorbed from the top. Add the cranberries and raisins and stir gently. Scoop out enough rice from the pot to stuff the squash and cover with the top of the squash. Place into oven for 30-40 minutes, until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. If there is still water visible in the pot of rice, cover the pot and allow to cook for 5 minutes more. Remove the rice from the pot and plate it onto serving platter, leaving a space in the center for the squash.
- While the squash cooks in the oven, toast the pumpkin seeds or nuts in a small pan over medium high heat until they turn golden-brown. Set aside for garnish later.
- Once the squash is cooked through, remove from the oven and transfer onto the center of the rice platter. Sprinkle toasted nuts or pumpkin seeds all over the ricer.
- When ready to serve, slice the pumpkin or acorn squash following the vertical ridges to create a beautiful petal design. Plate a slice of squash and a serving of rice for each person.
This lentil tabbouli salad is the perfect autumn spin off of the classic Middle Eastern salad famous for its delicious combination of parsley, mint, and wheat burgul soaked in lemon and olive oil. I substituted the traditional wheat bulgur grain for a gluten-free and protein […]
This green bean stew is such a delicious and simple recipe, you will want to add it to your favorites and quick dinners repertoire. The recipe is a classic Egyptian stew eaten in most Middle Eastern homes throughout various countries in the region. There are many variations to this classic comfort food, but the main ingredients along with the green beans are crushed tomatoes flavored with onions, garlic, and ground coriander seed. Some people cook this with lamb or beef stew, and others keep it entirely vegetarian. I usually to prepare this flavorful stew as a vegetarian recipe whenever possible as I am trying to be a more conscious consumer and cut down on the amount of meat butchered in the world, both for environmental and health reasons. Besides, dishes like this fasulya, my Sipinagh (spinach stew), mulokhia, or stuffed zucchini and peppers are already so tasty and hearty without the meat; you really do not need it. I promise.
In my home, we love preparing this dish year-round as its such a comforting bowl of savory green beans and juicy, tender pieces of meat. The hearty, flavorful stew of the green beans scented with coriander and a lemony tomato sauce soaks into the rice we eat it over. This meal is such an appetizing and warming dish that brings back so many nostalgic memories of a cozy dinner with family on a cold winter night.
You need green beans, of course. Because these are the main ingredient, and play the starring role, these guys need to be of superb quality. Some people use frozen cut green beans, which is fine. I use them often as a very busy working mother, so I get it. While using frozen may be faster and more convenient, you will really enjoy this dish with some freshly picked, crunchy summer green beans! They are worth looking for if you make this in the summer months. If you do use frozen, make sure it is cut only horizontally (not french cut). For this recipe, you need a nice full green bean, simply cut into halves or quarters to be shorter in length.
Simply cut off the stemmy ends and cut in half, or in quarters if the bean is particularly long so that each piece is about 1.5-2 inches long. This is really the most tedious part of the recipe (which isn’t all too tedious at all), so you may want to enlist some help from the kids to do this part (a plastic knife works fine). My kids love to help and are more likely to eat when they have “cooked” the meal; so try to include the children whenever possible. When it comes to picking off leaves from stems (fresh herbs, anyone?) or trimming, peeling, and chopping the fresh produce, I get my girls on board to help me. They then get to claim that they “cooked dinner” and proudly eat what they cooked. It’s a win win for everyone.
The next most important ingredient is a good tomato sauce. I use crushed tomato sauce from either blending fresh tomatoes or a jar of organic crushed tomatoes. The tomatoes are added to a fragrant base of sauteed onions and garlic with ground coriander. In Egyptian kitchens, the infamous chicken bouillon cube called Maggi is often used. I have forbidden this mysterious and magical concoction of MSG and sodium from my kitchen for a variety of reasons, so I use good ole’ chicken or vegetable broth instead. I use the halal brand, Saffron Road’s Artisan Roasted chicken broth which flavors the stew perfectly. Of course, if you prepare this with stew beef, you could use a few bones as the meat cooks and simply use that broth for this stew. It is so delicious! Let it simmer until all the flavors have come together and add the cut green beans for the last 20 minutes of cook time. Be careful not to overcook the green beans; they aren’t very good when they become too soft. Finish with the juice of 1 lemon and a garnish of chopped cilantro leaves. This fragrant stew begs to be eaten on top of a bed of fluffy white rice. Bil Hana wil Shifaa!
- 1.5 pounds fresh green beans, end trimmed off
- 1.5 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp crushed coriander seed
- 1 large onion, diced (3/4 cup diced)
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
- 1 tsp fresh crushed garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
- 1 lb meat or lamb stew (optional) + 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper+ 1 tsp all spice
- fresh cilantro leaves and stems for garnishing
- Wash the green beans thoroughly, and cut in half or into quarters to shorten the length to about 2 inches. Do not cut vertically, like french cut as this will become too mushy as it cooks.
- Saute the onions in the olive oil, over medium-high heat until yellow. Slowly stir in the crushed coriander seed, until fragrant. Be careful not to scorch the spice or onions, only cook until fragrant and onions soft.
- If you are cooking with stew meat, add it now with the salt, pepper, and all spice and brown the meat on all sides.
- Add the crushed and sliced garlic. Stir frequently, as garlic browns quickly and may burn. Add the crushed tomatoes before the garlic burns.
- Add 2 cups of water if you have added meat, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for an hour*.
- If you are preparing this with no meat, simply add the broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
- Once the meat is cooked OR the vegetarian tomato sauce and broth have simmered for 10-15 minutes, add the green beans.
- Add a few stems of cilantro for flavor and simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes until the green beans are tender. Taste the sauce and season with more salt if needed. Remove the cilantro stems after cooking.
- Serve over rice and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.
- *If you added meat, the cook time will increase. The sauce will need to be diluted with more water to allow enough liquid for the meat to cook well and tender. Let the sauce simmer for at least an hour before adding the green beans so that the meat is tender and juicy, also being careful to add more water as needed so that the tomato sauce doesn't burn in the pot.
- *The meat can be cooked separately in an Instant Pot with the same spices, sliced onions and garlic and 1 cup of diced tomatoes and only 1/2 c of water. Simply use the meat setting, adjust to 15 minutes and add the rest of the green bean stew recipe on the saute setting after the meat has cooked with natural release. Leave a comment below if you'd like me to create a full Instant Pot tutorial for this recipe!