United Arab Emirates

Today, we roam over to the middle east to a country that has only been established since December of 1971. More than half of the citizens here are under the age of 25, making it one of the most youthful nations in the world!  In the United Arab Emirates, or the UAE, only 13% of the people living there are citizens (Emiratis) and the rest are foreigners.  The UAE’s oil reserves are the seventh largest in the world, which makes for a fun fact considering that Masdar City is the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car free city!

On to the goods… Machboos Fogga (chicken and rice)


  • 1 fresh chicken ( I used 2.5 ponds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
  • 2 tbsp bezar (a spice mix: 1 tsp each cumin, fennel, and turmeric, 1/2 tsp each coriander and cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp cayenne)
  • salt to taste
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 whole dried loomi (a black lime- I used 2 old, dried up limes)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 8 cardamom ( I used a teaspoon of ground)
  • 4 cups basmati rice
  • 3 onions, diced and caramelized in olive oil
  1. Clean chicken, and cut into pieces. Rub with salt and bezar.


  2. Sear in olive oil, just until brown on both sides.      uae3
  3. Transfer to a pot, and add the stock, garlic, loomi, cinnamon cardamom, onions, and tomatoes, cover and simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.   uae5
  4. Taste for salt, and add the rice, boil gently on low heat until the water is absorbed- about 15 minutes.                             uae6
  5. Cover with heavy lid, and let steam for 15 minutes more, turn off the heat, and let stand for 10 more minutes before serving.

By now, you all know that I like food. I like meat, fish, potatoes… you get it- but I’ve always been scared of the idea of mixing savory food with things like cinnamon and cardamom… “baking spices”.

Wow. Everybody loved this dish! (well, except the vegetarian) There was just the faintest hint of sweet, lime, cinnamon-y-ness, but it worked! The chicken was tender and fell apart! I will definitely be looking forward to more middle-eastern dishes now!

One of the kids described the flavor as “Confusing, but I can’t stop eating it!”

I had fun with this one, so I hope you try it! Next stop on our world-wide journey will be Samoa!

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