Kabuli Pulao - Afghan Carrot and Raisin Jewelled Rice with Lamb | igotitfrommymaman.com
International Recipes,  Lamb Dishes,  Uncategorized

Kabuli Pulao – The Afghan National Dish

Kabuli Pulao is an incredibly delicious dish from Afghanistan, as the name suggests. This light and aromatic rice dish with lamb, other meat or poultry, that’s jewelled with carrots and raisins is the Afghan national dish. It is also popular in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Other forms of spelling include Qabuli Pulao, Qabeli Palaw and Qabuli Palau. In Persian we call it Qabeli Polo.

Qabuli, Qabeli, Kabuli, … whatever you may call it, it’s absolutely drool worthy and I dare you to give it a try! The first time I had it in an Afghan restaurant a few years back and it became one of my wife’s and my favourite dishes. I’m sure you’ll love it too, so I just had to borrow this yummy dish from our neighbours and come up with a recipe for it.

Kabuli Pulao - Afghan Carrot and Raisin Jewelled Rice with Lamb | igotitfrommymaman.com

Time

Prep: 30 min

Cook: 2h 30min

Total: 3h

Ingredients (serving 4)

2 cups / 340g basmati rice

2 cups / 470 ml freshly boiled water

2 lamb shanks or lamb shoulder or leg (1.9lbs / 850g)

3 carrots (7oz / 200g)

1.8oz / 50g raisins

1 onion

4 cloves garlic

6 tbsp vegetable oil

1 1/2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp tomato paste

3 tsp cumin powder

3 tsp sugar

1 tsp cardamom powder

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp saffron

2 ice cubes (from blooming the saffron)

1 tbsp slivered pistachios as garnish (optional)

Kabuli Pulao - Afghan Carrot and Raisin Jewelled Rice with Lamb | igotitfrommymaman.com

Method of preparing Kabuli Pulao

Prep the ingredients

Transfer 2 ice cubes into a glass. Sprinkle the saffron over the ice. Let the ice melt. The saffron will dissolve in the water. Alternatively you can dissolve it in a few tbsp freshly boiled water.

Peel the onion, cut it in half and slice it. Peel the garlic cloves and slice them as well.

Peel the carrots and chop them in julienne size.

Rinse the raisins and set them aside to dry.

Cook the meat

I used lamb shanks for my Kabuli Pulao, for the purpose of presentation. You can however use lamb shoulder or leg. In this case cut the meat in about 2″ / 5cm large chunks.

Heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the lamb shanks (or cubes) for about 10 minutes until golden brown from all sides.

Remove the meat from the pan and gently fry the onions in the same oil. After 5 minutes add the garlic and fry both together for another 5 min.

Then add the tomato paste to the onions and season with turmeric, black pepper, 1 tsp of the cumin and salt. Combine everything well and let the tomato paste fry gently for 5 minutes, then add 2 cups / 470ml freshly boiled water.

Give the mixture a good stir and return the meat to the pan. Put on the lid and let it simmer over low heat for 1h 45min. If you’re using whole lamb shanks, turn them occasionally.

After about 1h cooking time add half of the saffron water.

Fry the carrots

Melt the butter in a small pan. Add the carrots and gently fry them over low heat for about 5 minutes. Then sprinkle the sugar over them and put on the lid. Let them caramelise for about 10 minutes.

Remove the carrots from the pan. Gently fry the raisins in the same pan for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Set both aside for later.

Parboil the rice

Start preparing the rice 15 minutes toward the end of the cooking time for the meat.

Wash the rice by moving it around in a bowl of water, draining it, adding fresh water, and repeating this process 4 to 5 times.

Bring at least 5 cups / 1.2l of water to boil in a large pan. Add 1 tbsp of salt and let it dissolve.

Once the water is boiling add the rice to it and briefly stir to make sure it does not stick together. 

After approx. 3 minutes fish out a rice corn and either bite or cut through it. When the rice corn is soft on the outside and still firm inside, it means the rice is pre-cooked. This can take up to 10 minutes depending on your rice. I’m using Tilda basmati rice, which only takes 3 minutes to cook to this stage.

Drain the rice in a colander and rinse it thoroughly with cold water. This will interrupt the cooking process as well as wash off any excess salt.

Finish the sauce

Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the pan. The sauce should be nicely reduced now. Sieve the sauce through a strainer to filter out the onion and garlic. All their goodness is now in the sauce and you can discard of them.

Layer the rice

Usually the rice is layered with spices, meat, sauce, carrots and raisins, similar to Persian Loobia Polo. Because I wanted to leave my lamb shanks whole for the presentation I took another approach and only layered the rice with the spices, carrots and raisins. Then I served the meat and sauce separately. Below I describe the more traditional approach.

Set some of the carrots and raisins aside for later as garnish. Add 3 tbsp of vegetable oil and 2 tbsp of hot water to the pan you want to finish cooking your rice in.

Now add a little rice to the pan, enough to cover the bottom of it. Then add a little sauce, a little meat, some carrots and raisins and sprinkle with some of the remaining cumin and cardamom powder. Repeat these steps until all the ingredients are used up. If you’re using this method, you can pour the remaining saffron water over the rice in the end.

Poke 3 holes through the rice with the back of a wooden spoon. Heat the pan over medium temperature. Line the lid with a clean kitchen towel. As soon as steam rises from the rice, put the lid on.

Reduce the temperature to low and let the Kabuli Pulao steam for 45 min. 

Serve your Kabuli Pulao

Submerge the bottom of the pan into a sink filled with a bit of cold water so the tadig, the crispy part of the rice from the bottom of the pan, comes off easily.

If you used my method of serving the whole shanks, you can now mix the remaining saffron water with a small part of the rice and use it to garnish your dish.

Serve your Kabuli Pulao on a large plate. Garnish with the carrots and raisins, you set aside earlier and sprinkle with slivered pistachios, if you like. Enjoy!

Kabuli Pulao - Afghan Carrot and Raisin Jewelled Rice with Lamb | igotitfrommymaman.com

Kabuli Pulao – Afghan Carrot and Raisin Jewelled Rice with Lamb

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basmati rice (340g)
  • 2 cups freshly boiled water for the sauce (470 ml)
  • 1.9 lbs 2 lamb shanks or lamb shoulder or leg (850g)
  • 3 carrots (7oz / 200g)
  • 1.8 oz raisins (50g)
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tsp cumin powder
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp saffron
  • 2 ice cubes (from blooming the saffron)
  • 1 tbsp slivered pistachios as garnish (optional)

Instructions

Prep the ingredients

  1. Transfer 2 ice cubes into a glass. Sprinkle the saffron over the ice. Let the ice melt. The saffron will dissolve in the water. Alternatively you can dissolve it in a few tbsp freshly boiled water.

  2. Peel the onion, cut it in half and slice it. Peel the garlic cloves and slice them as well.

  3. Peel the carrots and chop them in julienne size.

  4. Rinse the raisins and set them aside to dry.

Cook the meat

  1. I used lamb shanks for my Kabuli Pulao, for the purpose of presentation. You can however use lamb shoulder or leg. In this case cut the meat in about 2″ / 5cm large chunks.

  2. Heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the lamb shanks (or cubes) for about 10 minutes until golden brown from all sides.

  3. Remove the meat from the pan and gently fry the onions in the same oil. After 5 minutes add the garlic and fry both together for another 5 min. 

  4. Then add the tomato paste to the onions and season with turmeric, black pepper, 1 tsp of the cumin and salt. Combine everything well and let the tomato paste fry gently for 5 minutes, then add 2 cups / 470ml freshly boiled water.

  5. Give the mixture a good stir and return the meat to the pan. Put on the lid and let it simmer over low heat for 1h 45min. If you’re using whole lamb shanks, turn them occasionally.

  6. After about 1h cooking time add half of the saffron water. 

Fry the carrots

  1. Melt the butter in a small pan. Add the carrots and gently fry them over low heat for about 5 minutes. Then sprinkle the sugar over them and put on the lid. Let them caramelise for about 10 minutes.

  2. Remove the carrots from the pan. Gently fry the raisins in the same pan for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Set both aside for later.

Parboil the rice

  1. Start preparing the rice 15 minutes toward the end of the cooking time for the meat.

  2. Wash the rice by moving it around in a bowl of water, draining it, adding fresh water, and repeating this process 4 to 5 times.

  3. Bring at least 5 cups / 1.2l of water to boil in a large pan. Add 1 tbsp of salt and let it dissolve.

  4. Once the water is boiling add the rice to it and briefly stir to make sure it does not stick together. 

  5. After approx. 3 minutes fish out a rice corn and either bite or cut through it. When the rice corn is soft on the outside and still firm inside, it means the rice is pre-cooked. This can take up to 10 minutes depending on your rice. I’m using Tilda basmati rice, which only takes 3 minutes to cook to this stage.

  6. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse it thoroughly with cold water. This will interrupt the cooking process as well as wash off any excess salt.

Finish the sauce

  1. Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the pan. The sauce should be nicely reduced now. Sieve the sauce through a strainer to filter out the onion and garlic. All their goodness is now in the sauce and you can discard of them.

Layer the rice

  1. Usually the rice is layered with spices, meat, sauce, carrots and raisins, similar to Persian Loobia Polo. Because I wanted to leave my lamb shanks whole for the presentation I took another approach and only layered the rice with the spicescarrots and raisins. Then I served the meat and sauce separately. Below I describe the more traditional approach.

  2. Set some of the carrots and raisins aside for later as garnish. Add 3 tbsp of vegetable oil and 2 tbsp of hot water to the pan you want to finish cooking your rice in. 

  3. Now add a little rice to the pan, enough to cover the bottom of it. Then add a little sauce, a little meat, some carrots and raisins and sprinkle with some of the remaining cumin and cardamom powder. Repeat these steps until all the ingredients are used up. If you’re using this method, you can pour the remaining saffron water over the rice in the end.

  4. Poke 3 holes through the rice with the back of a wooden spoon. Heat the pan over medium temperature. Line the lid with a clean kitchen towel. As soon as steam rises from the rice, put the lid on.

  5. Reduce the temperature to low and let the Kabuli Pulao steam for 45 min. 

Serve your Kabuli Pulao

  1. Submerge the bottom of the pan into a sink filled with a bit of cold water so the tadig, the crispy part of the rice from the bottom of the pan, comes off easily.

  2. If you used my method of serving the whole shanks, you can now mix the remaining saffron water with a small part of the rice and use it to garnish your dish.

  3. Serve your Kabuli Pulao on a large plate. Garnish with the carrots and raisins, you set aside earlier and sprinkle with slivered pistachios, if you like. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe! If you have any questions please let me know in the comments, I’m always happy to help. 

I’d love to see your Kabuli Pulao! Feel free to tag me with @igotitfrommymaman on Facebook or Insta so I can take a look and give you a thumbs up!

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Looking for more Middle Eastern recipes? Here are my Persian classics!

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Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your meal!

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