Iraqi-Jewish chicken and rice (Tibeat)


A dish  in Nawal Nasrallah’s Delights from the Garden of Eden listed as an Iraqi-Jewish traditional meal served on the Sabbath in Baghdad and cooked in a tannour. The tannour was a wood-fired  communal oven; it is still being used in some rural areas in Lebanon today to make bread.

The chicken and rice would bake  in a pot in the tannour for a long time, allowing the rice to develop a delicious crust.

Well, there are no tannour here in Dallas so this was made in an electric oven by  modifying  and streamlining  the recipe to achieve the same results.

This dish can be extraordinarily good if one uses a free-range organic chicken, some homemade tomato sauce, Basmati rice and a cast-iron pan.

I modified Mrs. Nasrallah’s recipe but I will indicate her method as well.

INGREDIENTS: up to 6 servings

  • 1 free-range chicken weighing about 4 pounds
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cups of Basmati rice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 large tomatoes, or a 14 oz  can of good-quality tomatoes such as San Marzano
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Spices: 1 tablespoon of seven-spice or 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of allspice, 1/4 tsp of black pepper, 1 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of white pepper, 1 tsp of cardamom


  1. Place the rice in a bowl and cover with water and a dash of salt. Soak the rice for 30 minutes or longer.
  2. Rub the chicken with cut chunks of lemon and sprinkle with the spices (minus the cardamom). Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large (I used a 10 inch) cast iron pan (with 4 inch edges all around) and brown the chicken on both sides for about 30 minutes over medium-low heat.
  3. For the tomato sauce: The sauce can be done ahead and frozen. Chop the onions and fry in olive oil till golden; add the tomatoes, peeled and cut in small dice, and stew the mixture for about 30 minutes, adding a teaspoon of sugar if desired. You should have 2 cups of tomato mixture; you may also add tomato paste and some water to the stew while simmering to increase its volume.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan and set is aside; heat the pot, scraping the chicken bits. Drain the rice and add it to the pot. Stir the rice to coat all the rice in oil. Preheat the oven to 375F. Add the tomato stew to the rice and the cardamom and let the stew simmer  for a few minutes until the rice absorbs the tomato liquid. Place the chicken in the middle of the rice mixture, add about 3 cups of water and place the chicken in the oven, covering it with a piece of foil; let it bake for 15 minutes then lower the heat and bake it at 350F for about 45 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all the stock and the chicken is cooked. You may add the eggs 20 minutes before the end of baking with their shell, but I preferred to boil them separately.

Mrs. Nasrallah adds coriander to the spices (1 tsp); she also fries the chicken gizzards with an onion beforehand and adds some spices to them, one cup of tomato sauce and half the rice; she stuffs the chicken with this mixture and sews up the bird. She then browns the chicken and onion in a little oil and adds a cup of tomato sauce simmering the chicken for about 15 minutes. She then adds 4 cups of water and the eggs and simmers the mixture, covered, for about 45 minutes. She then removes the chicken and adds the remaining rice in the pot and cooks the rice 15 minutes; then the chicken and eggs are added back and the dish is left to simmer for one hour or longer until a crust forms.

NOTE: I used a cast-iron pot which gave the rice a crust after 40 minutes of baking in the oven.

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  1. Posted November 15, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I am DEFINITELY fixing this one soon. It looks haevenly and I know it will be a real hit with all of us. PS – I should create a folder for ‘Joumana’s recipes’ :)

    Have a GREAT holiday week – I can’t believe Thanksgiving is already here.

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  2. Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that looks impressive! A magnificent dish.



  3. Posted November 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Totally new for me,simply irresistible.

  4. Posted November 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    How interesting….I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chicken cooked in rice this way, let alone one coughing up an egg! The crusty rice sounds fabulous.

  5. Posted November 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    This is bookmarked! I am definitely going to try making this soon!

  6. Posted November 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    What a visually striking dish! This would be a really good dish for a dinner party, you pop it in the oven and let it do its thing so you can last minute prepare!

  7. Joumana
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    @Dana: That is exactly how I did it; when my guests showed up, I pulled it out of the oven and served it calmly; they did not believe me when I said it is really easy to make.

  8. Posted November 15, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    My belated Husband use to make What he called Ha boob. It was made with Barley and Brown sugar maybe garbanzo beans ?

    Also He and I used to make a sweet desert I can’t remember the name of it. I completely forgot how to make it..
    As I recall it was made with White bread crust removed. Heavy whipping cream and sugar ?????? Can you please send me the recipes and correct names of these two deserts.

    Buddy Love & God Bless


  9. Joumana
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    @Lucy: sounds like the first one is ashour or snaynieh aka ‘ayouk; it is a type of pudding made with wheat berries or barley, sugar or honey and nuts; sometimes this dessert is made in a savory form for certain religious holidays in a sign of mourning and includes legumes such as chickpeas and lentils. When sweet it is made around Xmas or New Year, also for birth or funerals. The second one sounds like ashta, of which I have posted recipes in this blog.

  10. Posted November 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    That is one happy chicken! Beautiful.

    About the tannour: it is a domed clay oven, and it is usually built outside the house. Up until recently, all households in Iraq used to have one for baking the flat bread khubuz and for grilling and simmering pots for a long time, like this tibeet dish. So it is not communal. Furn (brick oven) is usually used in commercial bakeries.

    About the bread dessert Lucy mentioned, I think it is called Um ‘Ali (bread pieces with nuts and raisins, drenched in sweet rich milk and baked), something similar to bread pudding.

    Ishta as I know it is similar to clotted cream. In Iraq it is called geymer (in Turkish keymak). I have a recipe for making it in my book. Perhaps you would like to try it. It is very very easy, all it needs is the waiting.

  11. Joumana
    Posted November 15, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    @Nawal: Thanks so much for all the clarification; the lebanese tannour then is different. It is dug up underground and people throw the bread that is attached to a pillow against the walls of the oven, where the bread sticks to the wall immediately and bakes within seconds.
    I wish I could order an iraqi tannour to place in my patio here in the States! :)
    I posted a recipe for Um ‘Ali, using rkakat that I found in a box imported from Egypt; since in Lebanon nowadays, people make ashta by mixing cream with fresh breadcrumbs I thought that might be it. In any case, I will definitely try your geymer recipe; never forgot the one I used to eat at our friend’s house every morning in Baghdad!

  12. Posted November 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Wow! What a delicious looking dish! I love the color of the rice! I am sure it is very flavorful with the chicken dripping into the rice! awesome!

  13. Posted November 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I MUST make this! Love rice when it’s got that perfect crusty top – and the chicken…oh….

  14. Posted November 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    That crispy rice crust looks incredible, Joumana! :-) I love the story of the communal oven. How many stories were shared and relationships forged while waiting for dishes to cook, I wonder. :-)

  15. Posted November 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    This is a perfect winter meal and a great recipe from a talented cookbook author. Versions of this recipe are still very popular within the Iraqi Jewish community in Israel and abroad. It is usually made on Friday and allowed to slow cook throughout the night.

  16. Posted November 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Wow – what a stunner of a dish. This will be on our table very soon, although I’m not sure what the kids will say about the eggs!

  17. Posted November 16, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Ah Joumana, you know me. This is just my kind of dish. Roast chicken, rice with a crust, slow cooking, cast iron pots, spices…you nailed every one of those.

  18. Posted November 16, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    This looks so good. I would love a bite right now! The color of the rice is beautiful. I am building a bread oven, this maybe the perfect dish to try in it.

  19. Posted November 16, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    And again a dish from you that I have never seen before … it truly is stunning. What a presentation for guests!!! In fact I haven’t decided what to make for Thanksgiving yet, and I am thinking I might just go with this. I want!!!

  20. Posted November 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    What a fabulous recipe! Love how both the chicken and rice soak up the sauce and flavors during cooking. I want this and have bookmarked it to make. Terrific and I’m going to look for this book.

  21. Posted November 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    This looks so delicious! The golden chicken and the sauce-absorbed rice look perfect.

  22. Posted November 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    I could forego the turkey and have this. It must be difficult to re-crceate the method of cooking in an American kitchen. Those spices just warmed my November heart.

  23. Posted November 17, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Wow, this looks amazing. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  24. Posted November 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Et bien ma ” poulette ” maintenant on va devoir trouver qui du poulet ou de l’oeuf est arrivé en premier…quel plat délicieux et gourmand…

  25. Posted December 4, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    When my Iraqi Jewish friends make tabeet they bake it overnight at very low temperature in the oven such that it is ready for lunch on shabat – the idea being that you cannot actively light a fire on the day of rest but you can use an oven that’s already warm. It gives a nice crust on the rice all the while keeping it moist at the core, and fills the house with the smell of cardamom !

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    […] surviving versions from the Middle East through North African vary as well — from Iraqitbit featuring a whole chicken stewed overnight with rice, to turmeric- and […]

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