Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Do you know who declares the national dish of a country? I have no clue, but would like to know what makes a dish national dish. However, not every country has one - India doesn't have one because of its huge diversity! I think it is safe too! :-)

Anyways, today's recipe Mofatah Al Dajaj came into my radar when I read this article. The writer shares his thoughts on why he is not convinced that Kabsa is a Saudi's national dish. Though the article is a personal point of view of the writer, the thought that Kabsa need not be the national dish of Saudi Arabia got me looking for more about it. I then landed on this site that seems to be abandoned for long but a treasure trove of middle eastern recipes and this recipe got my full attention.

Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish

Mofatah Al Dajaj is rice cooked in chicken broth that is prepared first with the chicken and then there are medley of spices that I am aware but never used them this way! I have adapted the recipe from the mentioned site Arabic bites, and changed only in quantity and process. I made this before Ramadan and was waiting for another chance to make it so I can blog confidently.

Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish

I must say that you have to try it to know it. Especially if you have never cooked with these spices. Like Shaiba Leaves, I never knew what it was used for when I picked it. Upon researching, it is used in Indian cooking and is called Black stone flower/ Kalpasi / Dagar da Phool. And the Galangal root, is also called as Thai ginger? I am not very sure about it, but it looks like this. Loomi, is the dried lime.

As we are "I-need-more-masala-in-my-biryani" type of people, I have increased the quantity of the spice mixture and onions to get a lot of masala for the rice. OMG! I have taken the liberty to call it masala but it is addressed as Kashna in the original site.

Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish

The almond, raisins and carmalized onions with other spices brings a very unique flavour to the rice and chicken.  Alrighty, go ahead read it once and all you biryani experts will get an idea to make this easily.

Yields: for 2 hungry people

Mofatah Al Dajaj


Whole Spices to be tied in a piece of cloth
1 inch Galangal root
2 inch cinnamon stick
3 whole green cardamom pods
2 shaiba leaves (Black stone flower/ Kalpasi / Dagar da Phool)
1 loomi (dried black lemon)

For Wet Spice mixture:
a pinch of saffron
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon curry powder (easily available in stores)
2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rose water
Juice of a lemon
1 to 2 teaspoon white vinegar
Salt to taste.

For Almond and raisins garnish:
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced finely
1 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup blanched almonds and/or toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons of prepared Wet Spice mixture

To Cook Chicken:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced finely
2 to 3 green chillies
4 chicken thighs with bone and 2 legs (approx 550 grams)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
bundled spices
3 and 1/2 cups water

For the Rice
1 and 1/4 cups basmati rice
Chicken broth that you get after cooking the chicken - adjust this according to your rice requirement
Salt to taste - season as you go


Whole Spices to be tied in a piece of cloth
  1. Make a small bundle of the whole spices by keeping them in a clean small piece of cloth (cotton or cheese cloth) and tie the ends together. Ensure this is tight so it doesn't open up while cooking. 
Prepare the Wet Spice mixture:
  1. Add all the ingredients in a small bowl and give it a good stir. Keep this aside. 
Prepare the Almond and raisins garnish:
  1. Soak the almonds in hot water for few minutes or microwave for 1 minute. Peel and slice the almonds and keep aside. And if adding Pine nuts, roast them and keep aside. 
  2. Heat oil in pan and add onions and cook on a low flame until they are caramelized
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of Wet Spice mixture and cook for few minutes, then add the almonds and raisins
  4. Keep aside until needed
Cook the Chicken pieces
  1. Heat oil in pot and add finely chopped onion and green chillies
  2. Saute this for about 2 minutes
  3. Add the washed and drained chicken pieces and season with salt, pepper and cumin
  4. Keep turning the chicken pieces until lightly browned 
  5. Add the whole spices knotted bag and 3.5 cups water
  6. Bring the water to boil, then simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes (on very low heat)
  7. Switch off and with a tong, remove the chicken pieces from the pot and place on flat pan. 
  8. Brush the pieces with the remaining Wet Spice mixture, and roast it on stove top or oven until lightly browned and charred
Prepare the Rice
  1. Wash and soak the Basmati rice for 20 minutes and then let it drain completely
  2. Meanwhile, to double ensure there is enough broth in the pot to cook the rice, transfer the broth into a measuring cup and adjust accordingly. My rice required 2 cups of water for every cup of rice. I got that exactly. So add or remove liquid as per your rice requirement. 
  3. my method of cooking rice -Tip in the rice into the broth. Bring it to boil on medium flame. Let it cook until there is no liquid of the surface. 
  4. Reduce the flame to lowest. 
  5. Stir it once and place back the roasted chicken and kashna or Almond and onion mixture over the rice. Cover the pot with a foil and then a tight lid. 
  6. Slide a tawa between the flame and pot. Cook for another few more minutes and switch off. 
  7. Serve Mofatah  hot with buttermilk! 
PS: I have chosen to put back the cooked chicken and masala over the rice and give it a short dum process, you can skip that and just serve the cooked chicken along with the rice.

Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish

Now, I think Mofatah Al Dajaj should have been a national dish of Saudi! 

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