Recipe for Kabuli palaw

Kabuli palaw is a traditional dish in Afghanistan and one of most favorite ones among Afghans. Our people use to cook it wherever they are, even when they are far away from their country. We hope that you can also prepare it and enjoy it. 

200ml vegetable oil
1 chopped onion
800gr lamb leg or shoulder (with the bone), chopped into 6 cm pieces
1 tbsp crushed garlic
2 tbsp salt
2 litres (8 cups) of water
75 gr (⅓ cup) white sugar
2 tsp garam masala (made from ground cloves, bay leaves, cardamom and cinnamon)
1½ tsp freshly ground cardamom
1 kg sella basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 4 hours or overnight
250 gr carrots, peeled and cut into batons
75 gr sultanas
75 gr mixed slivered almonds and pistachios, to garnish

You’ll need to begin this recipe 4 hours ahead, or overnight if time permits.

Heat 50 ml of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and cook the onion for 6–8 minutes or until golden. Add the lamb, garlic and 1 tbsp of the salt and cook for 8–10 minutes, or until lamb is well browned on all sides. Add the water, reduce heat to low and cook, skimming surface occasionally, for 1½ hours, or until lamb is tender. Remove lamb from pan and set aside. Reserve the stock.

Place half of the sugar in a hot, dry saucepan over medium heat. Cook, shaking pan, for 5–6 minutes or until sugar has caramelised. Carefully add 250 ml (1 cup) of reserved stock, the remaining salt, 1 tsp of garam masala and a pinch of cardamom. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and set aside.

Drain the soaked rice. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until almost cooked. Drain and return to pan. Pour over the caramelised sugar mixture, add a pinch of garam masala and cardamom, and stir until rice is evenly coated.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrot and remaining sugar and stir for 5 minutes, or until lightly caramelised and glossy. Add the sultanas and cook for another 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in another pinch of cardamom. Set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan until smoking. Pour oil over the rice. Using the end of a large spoon, make holes all over rice to allow it to steam evenly. Top with spiced carrot and reserved lamb. Cover and seal pan with a tea towel, then a lid. Place over high heat and cook for 5 minutes or until you hear a ticking sound. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave covered for 10 minutes.

Remove lamb and spiced carrots, and mix rice well. To serve, cover base of a platter with a little rice, spoon over the lamb and then cover with remaining rice. Top with spiced carrot, then scatter with almonds and pistachios.

Fatimah Hosseini