Emirati Recipe: Chicken and Rice (Machboos / Fogga Dejaj)

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Emirati Chicken Machboos
Emirati Chicken Machboos

I had heard many wonderful things from friends about Chicken Machboos and was very much looking forward to attempting this recipe. I made it for dinner one night and it was so good I had to make it again for lunch the next day as there were no leftovers!

A friend of mine who’s husband is Emirati has promised that she would give me some of her mother-in-law’s homemade bezar (Arabic spice blend) so that one day I can make an even more authentic version instead of the store bought blend that I am currently using.


About this dish, Celia writes:

A traditional local dish, its color depends on the amount of tomatoes used in cooking and how brown it turns out to be!

Very filling, it can be made with fish, meat, chicken, shrimp or game and is always served with radishes, freshly sliced onion, sliced limes and dates.

The original recipe was for 6-8 servings. I scaled back the recipe to 2 servings and ended up using the following proportions.


1 fresh chicken (1.1 kg but I did not use the breast meat)
1/2 tablespoons bezar
salt to taste
1 cups chicken stock
1/2 fresh tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 whole dried loomi
1/4 stick cinnamon
2 cardamoms (I used green)
1 onion, sliced and browned in samen
1 cup Basmati rice

I bought a 1.1 kg (2.4 lb) chicken and cut it into pieces but did not use the breast meat as I find it too dry when cooked in this method. After rubbing the chicken all over with bezar, I browned them in samen (ghee).

Once browned, I added all the remaining ingredients, except for the rice, and simmered for 15 minutes, covered, on low heat. The instructions say to add curry leaves but no curry leaves were listed in the ingredients so I am assuming that Celia meant the browned onions as no onions were mentioned in the instructions but were listed in the ingredients.

Finally, I added to the pot the drained rice which had been soaking in water for 2 hours. I covered and simmered the rice for 20 minutes, then removed from heat to stand for 10 minutes.

Emirati Chicken Machboos
Clockwise from Top Left: Chicken browning in samen; Chicken Simmering; Adding the Rice; Chicken Machboos Done!

I was quite pleased with my first attempt at Chicken Machboos and so was my husband. The rice was very moist and quite flavorful – no overpowering taste of spices – and the chicken was very nice as well. We devoured the whole platter of machboos and I ended up making another batch the next day as I enjoyed it so much.

Here is Wee Scotch feeding himself some of the Chicken Machboos for lunch:

Emirati Chicken Machboos

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Previous Emirati recipe: Boiled Crabs (Gab-goo-ba maa-fourd)

Up next: Fried Fish (Sa-mak ma-ga-lee)

Note: This post is part of my Cooking Local project.

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  1. Hi! How are you doing? Is this recipe similar to the one we had at Arwah's? Because I think I heard "Fogga" or "Foggat" that afternoon 😀

    And then I saw Wee Scotch's picture and had to quickly scroll up to check the date of this post because he looks much, much bigger now 🙂

  2. mmm… Your step-by-step looks delish! Can't wait to gain my appetite back to try this. Which supermarket/ store can I find this Bezar (Arabic Spice Mix)?

    1. Congrats on the big news by the way!

      I lost my appetite when I was pregnant (I know, it was terrible) and didn’t gain it back until I gave birth. I never had nausea, just lost all interest in food.

      I bought my Bezar at Carrefour and I have seen it in Geant and LuLu’s – it’s quite a popular local brand so should be available in most grocery stores.

      1. Thanks Sandy! 🙂

        Oh good thing those spice mixes can be bought at major stores.

  3. I had this and harees (the chicken variety) for dinner last night. I am definitely more of a machboos than harees fan.