Chicken Machboos, or Machboos ala Dajaj (“spiced chicken and rice”) seems to be the national dish of Bahrain. It’s very similar to Biryani from India.
To make the Machboos, you fry off some onion in ghee and then add green chilli. Chicken (I used thigh) is fried off on top of the onion and then flavoured with baharat spice mix, garlic and fresh ginger. I was just about to make some baharat from scratch but realised I had some Lebanese 7 spice in the house which seems to be much the same thing. The one ingredient which I really needed to make this dish authentic, but sadly couldn’t find in time, was black lime or “Loomi”. Black lime is a salted, boiled, sundried lime which gives Bahraini food a nice sour taste. I replaced the black lime with some lime zest and lime juice which added a sour note. The chicken is boiled until cooked in this spice mix, a can of chopped tomatoes and some water.
Once the chicken was cooked, I removed it and kept it to one side. Some pre-soaked Basmati rice was added to the stock in the pan and simmered on a low heat until cooked along with flat leaf parsley and coriander. Just before the rice was done, I grilled the chicken to brown it.
The grilled chicken is served alongside the rice and drizzled with rose water and lemon juice. I really enjoyed this meal and I’d definitely make it again!