Machboos is a national rice dish in Kuwait, which is a spiced rice dish mixed with fish. Common fish they use includes Zubaidi (white pomfret) or other large meaty fish.
My parents are an expatriate from Kuwait, which I was born and lived there for more than 18 years. And during my experience, I have eaten many delicious Kuwait and Middle Eastern rice dishes. One of my favorite Kuwaiti rice dishes that I love is Machboos or Majboos.
If you live in Kuwait or other Arab Gulf countries, you will know that Majboos, Mandi, or Kabsa are popular spiced rice dishes eaten by locals. In my experience, I have learned that their foods are similar to Indian rice cuisines. The only difference that their food is not spicy, but it has rich flavors from spices and herbs.
In Gulf countries, the locals use chicken, lamb, or fish. But, in this recipe, I will be showing you how to make a delicious Fish Machboos that I learned from my experience in Kuwait.
Here are the lists of ingredients to make this delicious Fish Machboos
RICE: In this dish, I am using long grain rice, which is usually Basmati Rice. It is popular rice that is commonly used among Kuwaiti locals. If you can’t find this type of rice in your place, you can use other long-grain rice brands, but make sure it is not sticky.
SPICES for the Rice: I only use Turmeric spice just to color my rice yellow, and salt for taste.
FISH: To me, I prefer to use boneless fish or large fish with fewer bones. These fishes include Spanish mackerel, salmon fillet, Brown spotted Grouper or White Pomfret fish. In Gulf Arab, the Grouper fish is known as Hamour, while White Pomfret is called Zubaid.
Note: In this recipe, you will notice the food recipes picture; posted in this post, I am using Spanish Mackerel and Salmon Fillet.
SPICES for the fish: The spices I used include Cinnamon, Turmeric, Cumin, Curry, Lemon, and Salt. They are a very important ingredient since it gives a nice flavor of the dish. I marinated the fish with these spices, which I fry them after.
GARNISH: For garnishing my rice and the fish, I like to add and sautéed my onion until it turns brown. It is similar to caramelizing, except I don’t add butter. Also, I mix the onion with a pinch of cinnamon and cumin to make the onion flavorful. It is a perfect condiment that adds more flavor to the rice.
COOKING OILS: I used vegetable oil such as canola oil in this dish.
Perfect Side dishes to serve with Machboos
When I was living in Kuwait, we don’t eat machboos alone. We usually serve this dish with other side dishes or condiments such as tomato sauce and Middle Eastern salad.
Daqoos is a perfect tomato garlic sauce that we use to pour on the rice. Also, other Middle Eastern salad that blends well includes Arabic Salad, Fattoush Salad, or Shepherd Salad.
How to cook the Basmati Rice correctly?
Before you start cooking the machboos, it is important to first soak the basmati rice in warm water for 30 minutes. That is because it will absorb the water, and hence, cook the rice faster.
Also, soaking in the water will help remove the starch, which will prevent sticking the rice together.
Step by Step Instruction
Cooking this delicious fish machboos is divided into 3 steps: Marinating & frying the fish, frying the onion for garnish, and cooking the rice.
I. Marinating & frying the fish
Firstly, wash the fish to help remove the odor. Use a paper towel to help dry the fish. Use your hand to marinate the fish with salt, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and lemon.
Next, pour vegetable oil into the pan. Transfer the marinated fish to the pan and let it fry for up to 5 minutes or until it turns brown. Turn to the opposite side and repeat till it turned brown as well.
II. Frying the onion for Garnish
Pour vegetable oil into a separate pan. When the oil becomes hot, add chopped onion & a pinch of cinnamon and cumin in the pan. Keep stirring the onions while frying until it turns brown. Remove the onion from the pan and set it aside for later use.
III. Cooking the Rice
Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pot. Once the oil is hot, add the rice & salt. Stir for few minutes before pouring water on the rice. Make sure the water is enough to boil the rice (2 cups of water to 1 cup of basmati rice ratio).
Add a pinch of turmeric powder to change the color of the rice into yellow. Simmer the rice until there is no water, and then adjust the fire to low heat.
Transfer the cooked fish into the rice pot along with some of the browned onion. Keep the other half browned onion for garnish. Continue cooking the rice for 5 more minutes or until the rice is fully cooked. Lastly, before serving, stir to mix to make sure the browned onion is fully absorbed on the rice.
Transfer the rice and fish to a plate and add some browned onion as a garnish. Serve with Daqoos and Arabic Salad or other Middle Eastern salads.
Note: To know the recipe of Daqoos and Arabic Salad, I discussed them in a separate post.
Fish Machboos Recipe
- 1.5 cup of basmati rice
- 4 cup of water
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of salt
For Marinating Fish
- 500 Kilo 500 kilo Large Boneless Fish or any Fish Steak
- ½ teaspoon of cumin
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon curry
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup of chopped onion
- ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of cumin
- Vegetable oil for frying the onion
- Wash the fish with water to help remove the odor. Use a paper towel to dry the fish
- The marinate the fish with salt, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, and lemon using your hand
- Pour vegetable oil into the pan
- Transfer the marinated fish to the pan. Let it fry for 3 to 5 minutes or until it turns brown. Turn to the opposite side and fry til it turns brown
- Next, pour vegetable oil into a separate pan for frying the onion. Add chopped onion & a pinch of cinnamon and cumin in the pan
- Keep stirring the onions while frying until it turns brown. Remove the onion from the pan and set it aside for later use.
- In a separate pot, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to prepare cooking the rice.
- Once the oil is hot, add the rice & salt. Give a quick stir for few minutes before pouring water on the rice.
- Add a pinch of turmeric powder on the rice pot to change the color into yellow
- Simmer the rice until there is no water, and then adjust the fire to low heat.
- Transfer the cooked fish into the rice pot along with some of the browned fried onion. Keep the other half browned onion for garnish
- Continue cooking the rice for 5 more minutes or until the rice is fully cooked.
- Lastly, before serving, stir to mix to make sure the browned onion is fully absorbed on the rice.
- Transfer the rice and fish to a plate and add some browned onion as a garnish. Serve with Daqoos and Arabic Salad or other Middle Eastern salads.
I haven't heard of this before, but rice and fish is delicious comfort food, so this sounds good to me.
I love rice dishes with fish so this sounds delicious!
Thanks Amanda. Rice dishes are the best
I'm always looking for new fish recipes so I'll definitely be trying this! 🙂
Thank you Chris. Let me know how it goes.
I absolutely love Middle Eastern flavours so this recipe will be an absolute hit on my dinner plate! Thank you for introducing me to a new recipe from the region!
Your welcome Elizabeth. I am glad you like this recipe. Middle Eastern cuisines are truly delicious.
I'm not really up on my Kuwaiti food (even though I spent some time there), but this sounds incredible! Loving the warm spices on the fish.
Thank you Danielle. In my experience, Kuwaiti and Gulf Arabic foods are delicious and it is similar to Indian cuisine.
This looks super delish, love fried fish with spices