Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish

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! 😊
Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish

Anyways, today's recipe Mofatah Al Dajaj came under my radar when I read this article in Saudi Gazette. 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 Arabic Bites 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 has three things to it. Chicken pieces boiled in water with spices shown in the above image. Then a wet mixture with spice powders and flavour waters gets done. Which is then used to make Kashna with onion, almonds and raisins or sultanas. The boiled chicken is then picked and roasted while the stock is used to cook the rice. Served with roasted chicken topped and buttermilk or Laban as we locals call it. It is made for each other. Cooking rice in stock or broth is not new, but what goes into making the stock is unique to Mofatah. The highlight is the Kashna mix which is used to garnish the rice and roast the boiled chicken. 

Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish

We loved this so much as it was a welcome change to the usual Biryani or Ghee rice. You must give this a try, especially if you have never cooked with these spices like Shaiba Leaves, which is used in Indian cooking and is called Black stone flower/ Kalpasi / Dagar da Phool. And the Galangal root, is also called Thai ginger? Loomi is the dried black lime. 

As we are the "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 the Kashna! 

Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish

The almond, raisins and caramelised onions with other spices bring a 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 easier.

Yields: for 2 hungry tummy

Mofatah Al Dajaj | An Ethnic Saudi Rice and Chicken Dish


Spice Bundle: 
  • 1-inch galangal root
  • 2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 green cardamom
  • 2 small pieces of shaiba leaves (Black stone flower/ Kalpasi / Dagar da Phool)
  • 1 loomi (dried black lemon)
For Wet Spice mixture:
  • a pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Arab spice mix or Bezar spice mix
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Salt to taste
For Almond and raisins garnish:
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced finely
  • 1 tablespoon 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
  • 3 green chillies 
  • 550gms chicken with bones 
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Spice bundle
  • 3 and 1/2 cups water
For the Rice
  • 1 and 1/4 cups basmati rice
  • The chicken broth that you get after cooking the chicken - adjust this according to your rice requirement
  • Salt to taste


Prepare the Spice Bundle:
  1. Make a small bundle of the whole spices by keeping them in a clean small piece of muslin cloth and tying the ends together. Ensure this is tight so it doesn't open up while boiling.
Prepare the Wet Spice mixture:
  1. Add all the ingredients (a pinch of saffron (optional), turmeric powder, cinnamon powder, chilli flakes, Arab spice mix or Bezar spice mix, ginger garlic paste, olive oil, rose water, juice of a lemon, white vinegar and salt to taste) to 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 a few minutes or microwave for 1 minute. Peel and slice the almonds and keep them aside. Also, if adding Pine nuts, roast them and keep them aside. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add onions and cook on a low flame until they are caramelised.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of prepared Wet Spice mixture and cook for a few minutes, then add the almonds and raisins. Keep aside until needed.
Cook the Chicken:
  1. Heat oil in a deep pot and add finely chopped onion and green chillies and saute this for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the washed and drained chicken pieces and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Keep turning the chicken pieces until lightly browned. 
  3. Add the spice bundle and 3 and 1/2 cups of water.
  4. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer and cook covered for about 30 minutes (on low heat).
  5. Switch off and remove the chicken pieces from the pot and place them on a flat pan. 
  6. Brush the chicken with the remaining Wet Spice mixture, and roast it on a stovetop or in an oven until lightly browned and charred.
Prepare the mofatah al dajaj:
  1. Wash and soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes and then 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. If you are an expert, you will know if the broth is enough once you add the rice. Top with more hot water if required. 
  3. Tip in the rice into the broth. Bring it to boil on medium to high flame. Let it boil until there is no liquid on the surface. Reduce the flame to the lowest. 
  4. Stir the rice 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 with a tight lid. 
  5. Slide a heat diffuser or flat pan between the flame and pot. Cook for another 5 to 8 more minutes and switch off. Let it sit unopened for 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. Serve Mofatah al dajaj hot with buttermilk and salad.
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.

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


  1. Hi, I love Arabic Bites! I found the exact same recipe and have made it many times. Your idea of increasing the amount of kashna is a great idea. I'm going to try this out next time. Thanks a lot for posting!


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