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Lamb Kabsa Levantine Rice

Lamb kabsa is a delicious one-pot rice dish popular across the Arabic world, it is heavily spiced, but not hot and features raisins and nuts.

This dish takes around 2 hours to cook, but the lamb and stock can be prepared in advance, and you can cook the rice aspect in around 30 minutes.

Lamb kabsa, Saudi Arabian rice with almonds and raisins served with chopped salad.

Saudi Arabian Lamb Rice

I love a good “one-pot” rice dish, my site is littered with samples from around the world!

I have offerings that range from an Indian chicken tikka biryani and keema rice, to Spanish paella Valenciana and “Italian” smoked haddock risotto.

My latest offering hails from the Middle East, lamb kabsa or kabsah is often thought of as a Saudi Arabian dish, but it is popular across the Levantine world.

And it is a stonkingly good dish, it is heavily spiced but it is not hot. It gets a little sweetness from raisins and the toasted almonds give a beautiful texture to the perfectly cooked fluffy rice.

Add some lamb, which is cooked with aromats to enhance the stock that it all cooks in and you have something really special.

Yes, it takes a while to cook, but it is all very easy. It also is a generous portion and a bit of this reheated in the microwave for breakfast is filthy good!

Overhead close-up lamb kabsa, Saudi Arabian rice with almonds and raisins.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to wash the rice?

I often play it fairly fast and loose when cooking rice, but please do not skip this step in this recipe.

You want to get rid of as much of the loose starch as possible for this recipe because you want the rice to be loose and fluffy. If you do not wash the rice thoroughly you will end up with a claggy lumpy dish.

Can I use a different type of meat?

Yes, if you like, but make sure that it is something that will hold up to fairly long cooking. I think the best example would be a similarly sized piece of beef shin.

If you are using beef be sure to change up your stock to beef stock to reflect the change in meat.

Can I use green cardamom rather than black cardamom?

Yes, firstly you will need to increase the number of pods, I would use 5-6.

Green cardamom is sweeter whereas black cardamom has an earthier almost menthol flavour. Both work well in this recipe.

Can I cook this in advance?

Yes, with the caveat that you need to be very careful with cooling, storing and reheating rice!

You need to cool the rice as quickly as possible, spread it on a large baking tray to quicken the cooling process. Then it needs to be placed in the fridge as quickly as possible. Finally, it needs to be reheated until it is piping hot.

I would place this in my biggest and widest frying pan and add a splash of oil, or ghee and then fry it until it is very hot.

If you are only reheating leftovers or a small portion then 2-3 minutes in a microwave is usually good enough.

Overhead lamb kabsa, Saudi Arabian rice with almonds and raisins served with chopped salad.

Serving Suggestions

Lamb kabsa is typically served one of two ways, the first is as I gave served it here, with an Arabic chopped salad.

It is a glorious mix of tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumber and loads of fresh mint and parsley. It’s not dissimilar to an Indian kachumber salad.

The second option is a tomato sauce or chutney, called either a mandi or dakous.

My final suggestion is far from traditional, but I love this with dish with a pita bread and some tahini.

Close-up lamb kabsa, Saudi Arabian rice with almonds and raisins.

Equipment Used

I only mention brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • 20cm or 8″ saucepan with a lid.
  • Stovetop.
  • Kitchen tongs, stirring and serving spoons.
  • Small mixing bowl.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kicthen knife.
  • Weghing scales and or a combination of a measuring jug, cups and spoons.
  • A device to toast the almonds, I use an air fryer with a small tin. You could also use a small frying on a stovetop or even a baking tray in the oven.
Lamb kabsa, one pot rice with raisins and almonds served with a chopped salad.
Yield: 2 Servings

Lamb Kabsa Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

One-pot rice dishes are always a delicious winner, lamb kabsa is often known as a Saudi Arabian dish but it is popular across the Arabic world. This dish is hearty, delicious and wonderfully easy to cook.


  • 150g (1 Cup) Onion
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 400g Lamb Leg Steak (Bone in if Possible)
  • ¼ Tsp Salt
  • 375ml (1½ Cup) Lamb Stock
  • 250ml (1 Cup) Water
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Large Bay Leaf
  • 6 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 (10cm or 4") Stick Cassia Bark
  • 175g (1 Cup) Basmati Rice
  • 50g (⅓ Cup) Raisins
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes
  • 30g (¼ Cup) Almonds

For the Kabsa Seasoning:

  • ½ Tsp Fennel Seeds
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Cumin
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Coriander
  • ¼ Tsp Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Allspice
  • ⅛ Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • ⅛ Tsp Ground Cloves
  • ⅛ Tsp Ground Ginger


  1. Cut the onion in half, peel it and then cut it into 5mm (¼") half-moon shapes.
  2. Heat the oil in a 20cm or 8" saucepan over a medium high heat and add the onions, cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. You want to get the onions softened and just starting to colour on the edges, so if they colour too quickly, reduce the heat a little.
  3. Press the garlic cloves with the heel of your hand, not too hard, you just want to break them open a little.
  4. Bash the black cardamom pods with the side of a knife, again the idea is just to "crack" them.
  5. Season the lamb with the salt.
  6. After the onions have had 10 minutes, push them to the side of the saucepan and sear the lamb on both sides to get a nice colour. Whilst you are searing the lamb, turn the onions over occasionally so that the ones in contact with the pan do not burn.
  7. Throw in the garlic cloves, bay leaf, cassia bark, and black cardamom pods, then pour over the lamb stock and the water, then give it all a mix. Reduce the heat to low, add a lid and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
  8. Whilst the lamb is simmering mix together the spices for the kabsa seasoning.
  9. Wash the rice until the water runs clear.
  10. Chop the tomatoes into a rough 1cm (½") dice.
  11. Strain the stock from the solids in the pan, do not discard the stock we will need it later. Then remove the lamb and cut it into bite-sized pieces discarding any fat that does not look edible.
  12. Add the lamb back into the saucepan with the rice, tomatoes, and raisins.
  13. Pick out the garlic cloves, give them a mash with a fork and add them back into the saucepan.
  14. Return the rest of the solids to the pan, sprinkle over the kabsa seasoning, then pour over enough stock to cover the rice mix by around 1cm (just under ½"), this will be around 375ml (or 1½ cups). Then add a lid, return the pan to a medium heat and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.
  15. Very roughly chop the almonds and toast them in a dry frying pan or air fryer. I prefer to put them in a small tin and toast them at 180°C or 350°F in an air fryer for around 8-10 minutes in 2-minute bursts, shaking them in between.
  16. When the rice is cooked, allow it to sit in the pan for 5 minutes before serving, then serve sprinkled with the toasted almonds.


Be sure to remove the casia bark, cardamom pods and bay leaf before serving.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 897Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 190mgSodium: 1225mgCarbohydrates: 106gFiber: 10gSugar: 23gProtein: 56g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

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