Riz a Djej or Rice with Chicken is a traditional plate that is a favorite in every Lebanese household. It’s always prepared when the family is gathered for Sunday lunch or when you have dear people coming over for dinner. My mom used to make this dish and add a love spice to it. I always loved the way my mom prepared riz a djej and I always try to prepare it in the same way. It’s exactly what the name implies, cooked rice with chicken pieces on top. What makes the difference? The minced meat inside the rice, the aromatic spices that make all the difference, and the toasted nuts on top. To add to my pleasure Riz a Djej is naturally gluten and dairy-free!

Ingredients

Servings: 6

Chicken
- 3 chicken breasts
- 3 chicken thighs (bone-in)
- 2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil (I use canola)
- 1 onion, peeled
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp allspice
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp Ground nutmeg
- Around 1 ½ liters water

Rice
- 200 grams minced meat (I use beef but you can use lamb too)
- 2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil (I use canola)
- 2 cups long grain rice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- Freshly ground pepper
- 50 grams pine nuts
- 50 grams peeled and sliced almonds
- Other nuts are optional like cashews, pistachios, or walnuts


Method

Chicken

  1. Put the oil in a deep frying pan or pot.
  2. Add the chicken pieces to the oil in 2 or 3 batches and cook on all sides until golden brown.
  3. Sprinkle some salt and black pepper on the chicken.
  4. Transfer all the browned chicken pieces to a pot and add the remaining salt, black pepper, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, allspice, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, rosemary sprigs, and peeled onion.
  5. Add water until it covers all the chicken pieces. 
  6. Put the pot on the heat and bring to a boil. 
  7. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 45-50 minutes.
  8. Put off the heat and keep the pot aside.

Rice

  1. Meanwhile, put the oil in a medium size pot.
  2. Add the minced beef to the pot and cook on medium heat until the meat is well-cooked and brown. 
  3. Add 2 tbsp. of pine nuts (optional).
  4. Add salt, cinnamon, allspice, and black pepper.
  5. Add the rice to the cooked minced beef and stir on the heat for few seconds.
  6. Measure 4 cups of broth from the cooked chicken and use a sieve to sift all impurities and add to the rice.
  7. Mix well and cover the pot.
  8. Keep the rice on very low heat to cook slowly.
  9. It will take 20-25 minutes.
  10. Put the nuts in an oven pan and put it in a preheated oven on 200°C until the nuts are golden brown.
  11. Stir the nuts in the pan every few minutes not to brown from one side only.
  12. Keep your eye on the nuts because they can burn very easily.

To Serve

  1. Put the cooked rice in a serving plate.
  2. Add the chicken pieces on top of the rice, then top everything with the toasted nuts.
  3. Serve Riz a Djej with yogurt, green salad, or tabbouleh.