Machboos Laham of Kuwait

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The first international meal of 2017 was a smashing start to the new year. I’m no stranger to the term “machboos,” (also known as “kabsa”), a dish title thrown around in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Bahrain also had this dish in the forefront of their cuisine. Simply, it is a mixture of rice, meat, vegetables, and spices, but the combinations of ingredients are endless. Despite some familiarity with the dish, this was a new, delicious experience for me.

Here’s why you should try this recipe: each component – the rice, lamb, and the stuffing – are delicious all on their own. Really. Put them together, and the flavor is fantastic. I found myself eating at a faster pace because it was so delicious. I couldn’t help myself.

Chunks of lamb are cooked in boiling water with whole spices, including a cinnamon stick, cardamom, peppercorns, and cloves. This becomes the stock used to cook the rice, making ordinary basmati incredibly flavorful. The lamb also gets a drizzle of ‘saffron water’, (saffron threads in a mixture of water, oil, meat stock, and lemon juice), and a dry rub of more spices. This finishing touch makes the lamb deliciously complex and spicy. (Not as in hot spicy. Just a lot of flavors happenings at once.)

The stuffing – split peas, raisins, onions – might be my favorite element to all this. The onions are caramelized, and become the base for the split peas and raisins to simmer and stew in. Add a little sugar and salt to the mix to make the flavor hit all the right notes. The textural component to the stuffing is also satisfying; crisp peas, soft raisins, and melting onions.

There’s more steps to this dish than your average weeknight dinner. Most Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine are this way because of the many spices they use, and the multiple treatments of spice to the dish. Yes, it takes more effort than sprinkling some salt and pepper to your dish, but it’s so worth it! Think it over, really.

Ingredient List

The meat
  • lamb
  • water
  • onion
  • cinnamon
  • peppercorns
  • cloves
  • cardamom
  • leaves
  • salt
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground turmeric
  • ground ginger
  • ground cumin
  • salt
  • pepper
  • saffron threads
  • lemon juice
  • oil
The rice
  • rice (basmati)
  • onions
  • yellow split peas
  • raisins
  • oil
  • ground cinnamon
  • salt
  • sugar
  • ground cloves
  • black pepper

Quick Quotes

S: “This was very enjoyable! It is exciting to notice the familiarity we have both with Middle Eastern and Arabic spices, having eaten several of those national dishes. For readers of the blog interested in cooking some of the recipes, this is a good one to begin with.”

T: “Delightful! Each part of the dish was full of flavor. Stronger onion flavor a welcomed changed in this particular brand of Machboos.”

Trivial Trifles

  • The capital of Kuwait is Kuwait City
  • The official languages are Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic
  • Its currency, the dinar, is the highest valued currency in the world
  • Kuwait is the most democratic nation within its region
  • Kuwait ranked first among Arab nations in the Global Gender Gap Report, examining the following areas of inequality between men and women among 144 countries: Economic opportunity & participation, Educational attainment, Political empowerment, and Health & Survival (click link to see scores from 2006-2015)
  • Kuwait excels in the arts; it is the only nation in the Gulf region to embrace theatre, is known as the “Hollywood” of the Gulf due to its popular soap operas and theatre, became the first Gulf country to grant art scholarships, and the government founded the Higher Institute of Musical Arts to provide higher education in music

3 thoughts on “Machboos Laham of Kuwait

  1. I have never made lamb, but this makes me want to try it! Also, you must really been organized and motivated to cook this meal right after traveling!


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