Qidreh: The Palestinian Rice Dish You Need To Try

You may be familiar with some of the more popular Palestinian dishes such as Musakhan, a roasted chicken dish served on flatbread, as noted by BBC Good Food. But have you tried Qidreh? This meal hails from the city of Hebron and it's a meaty rice dish that's too delicious not to try at least once. It consists of meat, usually lamb either on the bone or in boneless chunks. Although lamb is the more traditional choice, modern versions also swap out the lamb for chicken. 

No matter the meat, it gets cooked with rice, along with chickpeas, and spiced broth all of which are simmered in a large pot, which helps add to the rich flavor profile. It is usually prepared so that the meat sits atop the bed of flavorful rice, which makes for a more appealing presentation, but it also helps in serving up portions. Outlook Traveller ranked it in its list of eight Palestinian food items travelers need to know about and the article also outlines how Qidreh is an ideal dish for communal dining.

Named for the cooking vessel

Although there isn't a lot of information available about when the dish originated, it is clear that Qidreh is something that's meant to be shared with a crowd and served during social gatherings. According to Lacademie, this dish is served during the holidays including Ramadan and Eid, as well as during the winter months since the heartiness and flavors are perfect for warming you up. And, Serious Eats also echoes that sentiment, by declaring that Qidreh is a go-to dish for weddings, funerals, and special occasions.

Even though it can be made with various cuts of meat, one thing that really makes this recipe shine is the way that it is prepared — traditionally in a heavy copper or brass pot and cooked in a communal wood-fired oven, per Taste Atlas. In fact, the dish's name in Arabic means "pot" and the moniker is believed to have been derived from the special container it's cooked in, as detailed by The Kitchn.

The dish of Hebron

As Serious Eats outlines, this is the hallmark dish of the Palestinian city of Hebron. And while we've covered that both boneless and bone-in lamb can be in the dish, many believe that using meat on the bone makes for a richer broth which translates to a more flavorful dish. The meat is usually given a head start and is first cooked in a bit of water, along with spices to create a broth for the rice, as shown in this YouTube video. Once the meat has cooked through, it's then browned in butter and garlic for a few minutes, then the chickpeas, rice, spices, and broth are added to the pot to allow the rice to cook.

Qidreh is made with a variety of spices that are common for Middle Eastern dishes, all of which, when combined, create a delicious flavor that is a delight to the palate. The spices used in the rice dish include cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, or Middle Eastern seven spice, along with salt and pepper. It's commonly accompanied by plain, Greek-style yogurt, and a salad made from fresh vegetables and herbs, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and mint, much like this Palestinian chopped salad recipe by Cooks Without Borders. The next time pondering what to bring to a potluck, try making Qidreh for a flavorful, and maybe unexpected, option.