Saleeg is Saudi Arabia's favourite chicken and rice dish. Rice is overcooked in chicken stock and full-fat milk and served with roasted chicken.


This month is a very special one because F and I got engaged four years ago. But every year I get confused if it was on the 22nd or 23rd! :-P because his birthday too is one of the two days which contributes to the confusion. I am the worst person to remember dates! so much that I can’t remember if SRK’s birthday is on Nov 2nd or 4th??? (If you even took a second to think who is SRK, you don’t exist.)

This year, I checked F’s passport to confirm his birthday so the confusion is put to rest. LOL! Now there is a third event – Saudi National Day – a day for all the expatriates to remember why we are here and not anywhere else in the world! For last year's National Day, I had prepared Kabsa referring to some random blog. Those days I was not into food blogging et al and so never bothered to check the authentic ways it is prepared. Now, having lived and travelled around KSA, I know that the Kabsa I had prepared was far from authentic.

Keeping in mind the three special events, I had shortlisted Kabsa or Mandi considering it will keep the carnivore happy. But F rejected both. Yikes! Now, you can't deny anything for a birthday boy, can we? Sat down for quick research and I zeroed on Saleeq(g). Can you imagine rice cooked in broth and milk? I was intrigued by the concept which made me finalize on Saleeg.


Saleeg is one of the traditional dishes of the Kingdom of Saudi, especially around Makkah and Tabuk region which is prepared for special occasions. Originated in the Hejaz region, which is the west of Saudi Arabia where it is regarded as a national dish. Almost all the articles I read stated that it is a kid's favourite too, as they eat Saleeg without any tantrums.

This rice dish is usually prepared by boiling the chicken to get the stock and then cooking the rice in the prepared stock. Once the rice is cooked, milk is added and cooked further until creamy. Traditionally, Saleeg is served hot on large plates called Tabasi and the roasted chicken or meat is placed on top of the rice. You can serve it with some Salata Hara like I did for a hint of tanginess but it is good as is too. Unlike most Saudi rice dishes that use long grain or basmati, Saleeg is cooked with a combination of Egyptian and American rice. In other words, short-grain rice gets cooked quickly and gets creamy. Both types of rice are available in ample, yet I have used Jeerakashala (short grain aromatic rice of South India) (which is part of my Lulu haul:-P). 


Super easy to prepare as there is no chopping or grinding involved! Only two steps, make broth and overcook the rice! Yes, no fear of overcooking either!

How to make Saleeg rice?

Saudi Saleeg Recipe

Adapted from Arab News, Ya Salam Cooking and Amal's Table

Yields: Serves 3 to 4 hungry tummies


For the Chicken Stock
  • 1kg chicken whole legs (4 to 5 whole legs) 
  • 8 cups of water
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns 
  • 1 small piece of dried galangal root (optional)
  • 1 small piece of shaiba leaves (black stone flower) (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered 
  • salt to taste
For the Rice
  • 6 cups prepared chicken stock 
  • 2 cups of hot water
  • 2 small pearls of mastic tear, crushed (optional)
  • 2 cups of short-grain rice, rinsed and soaked (mix of Egyptian or Calrose rice and American or jeerakasala rice)
  • 1 cup of full-fat milk 
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
To roast the boiled Chicken
  • Rub some ghee or butter on both sides of the chicken pieces
  • Rub some bezar spice mix or just salt and pepper to taste 
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee to roast


Prepare the Stock
  1. Place chicken pieces in a stockpot along with the whole spices, onions and enough water.
  2. Bring the water to a full boil and then carefully skim the froth that appears on the top and discard it until the stock is clear.
  3. Reduce the flame to medium and allow to cook for 30 minutes or until the chicken is done.
  4. Remove the chicken pieces with the help of a tong and keep them aside in a skillet.
  5. Strain the stock to get rid of the whole spices and onion. You can either strain it into another pot in which you intend to make the Saleeg or into a bowl and transfer it back into the same pot. 
Prepare the rice
  1. In the same pot, add the chicken stock, crushed mastic tear, rice, hot water and salt to taste.
  2. Bring this to a full boil, reduce heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 20 minutes stirring every now and then. 
  3. Open and add the milk, and butter and give it a good stir.
  4. Check and add salt and cook on low stirring every now and then.
  5. Cook until the rice is creamy and thick not dry and sticky! If you feel it is dry, add some more hot milk and stir again. You may add some cream cheese for more creaminess. 
Roast the Chicken
  1. Roast the chicken on the stove or in a preheated oven. You may mix any Arabic spice with butter to rub on the boiled chicken and roast until browned. 
Serve Saleeg
  1. On a wide plate pour,/drop the prepared Saleeg, smooth the top and place the roasted chicken in the middle. Serve with Salata Hara, a very easy sauce where no cooking is involved!

Saleeg, a treat for his birthday and a tribute to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia! :-) 

Update 17th Jan 2018
I have been looking forward to making this rice dish again using all traditionally used ingredients. I picked a pack of Egyptian rice and I already found mastic :-) So made Saleeg for lunch today as F has been coming home for lunch these days. Our verdict? We still loved the Jeerakasala added version so retained it in the recipe. With Saleeg, there is no fear of overcooked rice :-) Add more milk and cook it to a creamy blob. Excess can be stored in the fridge and reheated with some more water and milk.

Saudi Saleeg
Saleeg-old pic


I would love to hear from you. If you have made this recipe then do leave a comment below. If you like this recipe then do share the recipe link on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Follow me on Instagram and mention @butfirstchaai or tag #butfirstchaiblog so that I can see your creations!