Machboos from Bahrain and How to Joint a Chicken

Machboos Vertical

Machboos is a chicken and rice dish from Bahrain. Its signature flavor is made by combining Baharat seasoning, tomatoes, and loomi (dried lemons/limes) with the rice!

A New Culinary Adventure

The culinary adventure of the day— Machboos (Chicken and Rice) from Bahrain— has called for an entire chicken. EEEKKK!!!!

So I spent my day today learning how to successfully cut the limbs off of a chicken at the joints. TBH, not how I thought I’d be spending my Thursday night. But, ya know… you learn something new every day.

Machboos with Chicken Breast

How to Joint a Chicken

To joint a chicken, first make sure that your knife is as sharp as possible. We learned this the hard way, when our butcher’s knife couldn’t even cut through the skin on the chicken. This step is very important.

Jointing a Chicken: The Thighs

Start jointing the chicken at the legs. First, use your knife to cut a slit in the skin above the thigh joint. Turn the chicken on its side and pop the leg back so that the thigh joint pops out of the thigh socket. Use your knife to cut through the skin around the popped socket and remove the thigh from the body. You should not be cutting through any bone. Repeat on the other side.

Machboos with Drumstick

Jointing a chicken: The Legs

If the feet/ankles are attached to the legs, cut them off. To remove the thighs from the legs, look at the underside of the chicken leg. There should be a white diagonal line indicating the location of the joint between the leg and the thigh. Cut along this white line to separate the pieces.

Jointing a Chicken: The Breasts

Moving back to the body of the chicken, you will see a vertical line that runs down the center of the body between the two breasts. Use your knife to slice down this line to remove the meat from the bone. Do not cut through the bone. Once you are able to see the wishbone, use some pressure from your knife to break the wishbone in half. Continue running your knife in strokes to take the meat away from the ribs until the entire breast and wing comes away from the body.

Jointing a Chicken: The Wings

To remove the wing from the breast, flip the breast over. Move the wing until you can see the joint where it attaches to the breast, and then cut around this joint.

And there you have it! You have a fully jointed chicken, prepped, ready, and just BEGGING to be used in this Machboos recipe.

For a video on how to joint your chicken, watch this incredibly helpful Youtube video that taught me everything I know!

Using the Chicken in Your Machboos Recipe

This rice recipe is phenomenal, and has such a delicious flavor! We accidentally cooked ours for a few minutes too long, so the rice ended up a bit mushy. It’s better to check the rice too soon and cook more if need be than it is to overcook the rice from the get-go.

Loomi and Its Substitution Options

We used an ingredient in this recipe that I had never used before… dried limes or loomi! You can find these at any Middle Eastern or Indian food market. If, however, you’re not keen on going shopping for some dried, brown limes, you can always substitute the zest of ½ lemon instead.

Please leave any more questions or thoughts about this recipe in the comments! If you make this dish, tag me in a photo of it on Facebook or Instagram at @theforeignfork. You can also use the hashtag #theforeignfork. For more great rice recipes, check out this Muhammar,  a sweet rice from Bahrain or this Armenian Rice with Vermicelli!

Machboos (Bahrain)

Machboos is a chicken and rice dish from Bahrain. Its signature flavor is made by combining Baharat seasoning, tomatoes, and loomi (dried lemons/limes) with the rice!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Bahrain
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 5 servings


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 1 tbsp Baharat seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 chicken, jointed
  • 1 can drained and chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 full loomi
  • 2 pieces cinnamon bark
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onions for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir in the Baharat seasoning and turmeric and cook for 2 more minutes.

  2. Cut about 6 slits into the side of each loomi with a knife. Add the chicken pieces and cook until browned slightly. Add the tomatoes, cardamom, cloves, loomi, cinnamon, and salt and stir well. 

  3. Pour in 2.5 cups water and cover. Simmer gently for 45 minutes.

  4. Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Add into the stew, add the herbs, and bring back to a simmer. Cook on low for about 30-35 minutes. Stir gently once or twice. 

  5. After 30 minutes, check the rice. Cook longer if necessary. 

  6. When done, remove the mixture from the heat and leave to sit for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice mixture with a fork. Enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos.