A beginners guide to Kabsa

Kabsa is the national dish of Saudi Arabia and a main meal of many Arabs.  It consists of rice with many spices and a topping of meat.  Goat, camel, and chicken are popular choices.  While I enjoyed it my first time I quickly tired of it.  Eating the same dish for every dinner as is their custom is not enjoyable to me as I tire of doing anything repetitively.

Westerners might have difficulty with Kabsa even before eating it.  It is served on a giant saucer on the floor, and diners must sit around the edge of this plate.  Those with bad knees will have difficulty.  Once everyone is seated the dining can begin but do not waste your time looking for a fork.  This meal is eaten by hand, and be sure to only use your right hand, for hygiene reasons.  While extremely difficult at first the locals will take the time to properly show you how to roll the rice into a ball with your fingers so you can get it to your mouth without making a mess.  Now that we have gotten to the point of getting the food into your mouth let us discuss what you are eating.  th

On the top of this giant bed of rice is most likely a goat.  Those that are squeamish will have trouble as the head is probably there as well.  Being used to only hot dogs and other processed meat you try your hardest to avoid touching the head but the locals will have none of it.  Considering it the best meat they will tear pieces of the head and hand it to you.  Putting on a brave face and fake smile as you look at the goats eyeball staring your way, you choke it down with extra rice and take a big gulp of soda.  Have no fear if goat is not your meat of choice as you might luck out and get camel, which truly isn’t a bad meat.

The presentation of this meal for special occasions is spectacular.  For weddings, holidays, and other such gatherings multiple giant saucers are placed around and hundreds of people, perhaps eight per platter sit down to eat.  Each platter holding more rice and meat than fifty people could eat there are always massive amounts of leftovers.  I believed this to be waste until a friend told me that the leftovers are given to poor people.  I have not verified this but I like to believe it.kabsa-mandi

These photos are from the internet and not my own. 

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