Traditional Bahraini Chicken Machboos / Machbous

Total Time
2hrs 15mins
Prep 15 mins
Cook 2 hrs

Machboos is a dish of rice & meat, popular in many Gulf countries & across Saudi Arabia. Here is a version which is traditionally made in Bahrain. If you don't have any Buharat / Baharat spice mix, there are a few here on Zaar to choose from. If you don't want to use a whole chicken, your favourite pieces would be fine too!

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Cut the chicken in half. Heat the water and leave aside. In a small bowl, mix the buharat, turmeric, cumin, and cardamom together and add to the mixture one teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture on the chicken halves.
  2. Heat oil in a large cooking pan, fry the onions until golden brown, then add to the pepper and the black limes - you MUST make a hole in each limes.
  3. Add the chicken to the onion mixture and turn it over a few times in the pan. Sprinkle on the chicken a teaspoon of cinnamon and the rest of the mixed spices. Turn the contents all together so the chicken is coated with the spices, cover the pan and let it cook on medium heat for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, chopped ginger, and tomato cubes to the pan and turn the ingredients in the pan a few times. Cover again for 3 minutes on medium heat. Sprinkle with the rest of the salt and pour on it water while its still hot.
  5. Cover the pan and let it cook for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked. Add the copped coriander 5 minutes before you remove the chicken from the stock in the pan. While the chicken is cooking, wash the rice well and soak for 10 minutes in cold water, then drain.
  6. Remove the chicken from the pan and put on an oven tray, brush with some oil and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon powder and grill in the oven until the chicken is golden brown.
  7. Add the rice to the chicken stock, stir, then let it cook on low heat until the rice absorbs the stock and is almost done.
  8. Sprinkle rose water and lemon juice over the rice and place the butter pieces on the top. Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
  9. Serve the rice on a large serving plate and place the grilled chicken halves on the top.
Most Helpful

5 5

5 5

I am currently trying to cook a dish from every country and this is what I used for Bahrain. Delicious! I recommend using bone-in chicken, otherwise it can dry out.

5 5

4 3/4 stars! This is delicious for DH, DD (toddler) and I. We all ate more than usual! I cut each spice down by a little I think. The rice is very flavourful. I used a good canned plum tomatoes, an extra clove of garlic and would probably do so again, I did not use green hot pepper as we don't enjoy hot spicy and less cinnamon as I did not add any to brown the chicken in the oven as I didn't find a need to do the oven part as the chicken was already cooked and may have become too dry doing that. I used Iranian rose water which I find to be superior in all aspects, sea salt and the rest of the ingredients. I will make this again with a fresh salad and sauce containing fried okra (bamia) or frozen okra thrown into the dish part way through as I did once. Just don't put it in for the full time or it disintegrates.