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The Hirshon Bahraini Chicken Machboos – مكبوس‎ البحرين

  • Total Time: 0 hours


  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons of The Hirshon Baharat spice mix (see recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • A combination of chicken thighs, legs and breasts (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 6 large cloves or garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 (14 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, juices drained
  • 2 dried limes (loomi), several holes punched throughout each one
  • 6 green cardamom pods, skins removed and seeds ground
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 2½ cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups basmati rice (soaked for at least 15 minutes, then rinsed and drained)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Rosewater for sprinkling, or to taste (optional, but highly recommended)
  • For the Hirshon Baharat:
  • Blend 2 parts of these spices together in a bowl:
  • Black Pepper, Cumin, Coriander seed & Paprika (lightly toast the whole spices in a pan over medium heat until fragrant)
  • Next, add one part of all the following:
  • Clove, Nutmeg & Sea Salt (lightly toast the whole spices in a pan over medium heat until fragrant)
  • Now add ½ part of Cardamom seeds and Cinnamon (lightly toast the whole spices in a pan over medium heat until fragrant)
  • Grind all the spices together into a powder. Keep the leftover blend in an airtight container.


  1. In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons of baharat, clove, turmeric, cumin and cardamom together. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture on the chicken pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a large cooking pan, fry the onions until golden brown, then add the hot pepper and the black limes. It’s VERY important to punch a few holes in the limes with a skewer, knife or the tines of fork before adding it to the dish, otherwise the juices won’t effectively penetrate the hardened skin.
  3. Add the chicken to the onion mixture and turn it over a few times in the pan.
  4. Sprinkle on the chicken a teaspoon of cinnamon and ¾ of the remaining mixed spice blend.
  5. 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.
  6. Add the garlic, chopped ginger, and diced tomato to the pan and turn the ingredients in the pan a few times. Cover again for 3 minutes on medium heat.
  7. Sprinkle with the rest of the salt and pour on chicken stock while it’s still hot.
  8. Cover the pan and let it cook for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked. Remove the dried limes.
  9. Add the chopped cilantro 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.
  10. Remove the chicken from the pan and put on an oven tray, brush with oil and sprinkle with the remainder of the mixed spice powder (use some of the leftover Baharat spice from when you made it, if needed) and grill in the oven until the chicken is golden brown.
  11. 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.
  12. Sprinkle rosewater over the rice and place the ghee on the top. Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
  13. Serve the rice on a large serving plate and place the grilled chicken halves on the top and garnish with the chopped parsley.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
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