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Qabuli Palaw (Afghanistan)


Basmati rice 500gm

Stewing lamb 800gm

Oil — 1/2 cup

Thinly sliced 2 Onions

Salt according to the taste

Garam masala 2 teaspoons

Ground cardamom 1 teaspoon

Sugar 2 tablespoon

Carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks 300gm

Raisins, soaked in water and drained 150gm

Sliced almonds and pistachio toasted 200gm


  1. In a large bowl, wash and drain the rice in 2 or 3 changes of water. Add more water to cover and set the rice aside to soak for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium flame and, working in batches, brown the meat on all sides. Remove the meat to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the onions to the hot oil and sauté until cooked through and softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and whole spices and saute for another minute or so.
  4. Return the meat to the pot and pour in the stock or water along with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  5. Strain the meat, onions and spices from the simmering broth and set aside, reserving the broth.
  6. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil in a saute pan or large pot over medium flame. Add the carrots and saute for 1 to 2 minutes to soften. Stir in the sugar and continue to cook for 1 or 2 more minutes to lightly caramelize the sugar, taking care not to let it burn.
  7. Remove from heat and carefully stir in 1 cup of the reserved broth. (Be careful. It may splatter a bit). Then stir in the raisins, cardamom and salt to taste and set aside.
  8. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drain the soaked rice and stir it into the boiling water. Return to a boil and cook the rice for 3 or 4 minutes. Then drain the rice, discarding the water, and place it into a large bowl.
  9. Lightly oil or grease the inside of an large ovenproof pot with a lid. Mix the remaining broth with the reserved rice. Spread half the rice smoothly over the bottom of the greased pot. Spread the reserved meat and onions evenly over the rice. Top the meat with the carrots and raisins. Finally, layer the remaining rice smoothly over the other ingredients in the pot.
  10. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke four or five holes through to the bottom of the pot. These holes allow excess liquid to boil out of the rice so that it doesn’t get soggy. Cover the top of the pot with a clean kitchen towel. This keeps condensed steam from dripping back onto the rice. Finally top the pot with a tight-fitting lid and fold the overhanging towel over the lid.
  11. Set the pot over medium-high flame for 3 to 5 minutes. Next reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let it rest, covered, for another 10 minutes.
  12. Gently stir the rice and meat together with a large fork. Mound the pulao on a large serving dish and garnish with the toasted almonds and a sprinkling of garam masala. Serve warm.

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