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Overnight Chicken Buried In Aromatic Rice

by , featured in Flavours Of Babylon
Published by Waterpoint Press
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The name for this Sabbath dish - T'Beet - comes from the Arabic tabayit which means to stay overnight, which is how long t'beet used to be cooked. This is my grandmother's recipe which my mother continues to use when making her delicious t'beet. It is the traditional way to make this sumptuous dish. It might seem a lengthy process at first but you'll soon get the hang of it. The chicken is cooked first, then the rice is added and cooked together with the chicken. It is worth the effort and makes a spectacular party dish.

To get the best flavour, I recommend a free range mature boiler chicken which is an older bird than the usual roaster. Its taste is deeper and meatier. A free range roaster will do too.


Serves: 6-8

For the chicken and rice

  • approx. 2 kilograms chicken
  • 1 lemon - you need 2-3 pieces cut lemon to rub the chicken
  • 700 millilitres (level in a measuring jug) white basmati rice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 fresh tomato (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 chicken broth cube or 1 teaspoon bouillon powder
  • 4 whole cardamom pods
  • 1 heaped tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 heaped tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • black pepper to taste

For the stuffing

  • 2 - 3 tablespoons basmati rice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chicken or giblets (optional)
  • 1 large fresh tomato (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste


Overnight Chicken Buried In Aromatic Rice is a guest recipe by Linda Dangoor so we are not able to answer questions regarding this recipe

  1. Wash and soak both quantities of rice in 2 separate bowls for 30 minutes.
  2. Wash the whole chicken (leaving the skin on). Cut off the tip of the parson's nose and pat dry. Rub the chicken inside and out with a piece of cut lemon. This helps to clean it and remove any unpleasant odours.
  3. Combine all the stuffing ingredients and stuff the chicken, then close the opening with a skewer (loosely stuff the inside as the rice expands to double its size).
  4. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and sauté the chopped onion until limp and transparent. Stir in the chopped tomato and salt and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
  5. Now pop the chicken in the pot (with no liquid) and cook covered, on medium heat, turning occasionally, until golden all over. (If necessary, add a few drops of water.) This will take about 25 minutes. Liberally prick the chicken so as to allow the juices to flow out.
  6. Pour boiling water over the whole chicken, covering half of it. Stir in the tomato paste, the chicken cube, the cardamom pods, the ground spices and the salt. (You can add a stick of celery that you will discard later.) Cook for about 1 hour (a little more if it is a boiler).
  7. Take the chicken out of the pan. Measure the remaining liquid. You should have 700ml. If less, top it up. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  8. Put the chicken back in the pot. Bring to the boil and add the rice around the chicken. Bring to the boil again. Then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 25 minutes. (It is best not to uncover the pot at this stage.)
  9. Now turn the heat down to a minimum and place a heat diffuser beneath the pan and cook for another 20 minutes.
  10. Then either transfer the pot to a preheated oven at 100ºC/Gas Mark ¼ and slow cook for another 2 hours or more (remember, this used to cook for 12 hours in Baghdad) or continue to cook on the stove with a diffuser under the pot to stop the rice from burning.
  11. Before serving immerse the bottom of the pot in cold water. This will make it easier to detach the h'kaka (bottom crust). Spoon the t'beet into a large serving dish, with the chicken in the middle and the crust on top.

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