I am a big fan of Persian cuisine with their refined pilafs and stews but I was always curious about the cuisine of their neighbor, Afghanistan, of which I knew nothing. The opportunity came up one day in Dallas, when an Afghani restaurant opened up not far from where I lived. I ordered this Kabuli Pulao, and liked the addition of carrot sticks and raisins and the subtle sweetness it gave the dish.
I searched online and found recipe and video on Humaira Ghilzai’s website, Afghan Culture Unveiled; Kabuli Pulao is the national dish of Afghanistan! I tested her recipe in my kitchen as her technique was identical to the Iranian method of parboiling the rice and steaming it later with the other ingredients. I was happy with the results, but was hoping to streamline the recipe while keeping the taste intact.
Finally, after a few tries, I settled on my last version of this dish in which I simply cook the rice in the spicy stock. This version is easy and the rice comes out very fragrant after getting soaked-up in the rich stock. In my version, there is no need to layer the rice and the other individual ingredients. I happily noticed that my Kabuli Pulao was enthusiastically received when I served it.
I hope you try it someday, it is a wonderful pilaf to share with your friends or family!
Kabuli pulaoJoumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern December 17, 2021 Whole Grain/Bulgur/Rice, Main Dish, Poultry, chicken, main dish, ricepilaf, Afghanistan,
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 2 lbs (1 kg) chicken thighs, skin removed
- 2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped fine
- 4 carrots, peeled and shredded (to make 3 cups)
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 4 garlic cloves, mashed in a mortar
- 1/2 cup ghee or clarified salted butter or vegetable oilSpice mix:
- 1 tbsp (3 tsp) ‘Knorr Halal Chicken Flavored Seasoning’
- 5 cups water
- 1 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 cloves (whole)
- 3 tbsp raw sugar (can substitute brown sugar or datesyrup)
• 1 dried lemon, poked in two spots with the tip of a knife (loomi)
• 1/4 cup pistachio slivers or chopped pistachios
1. In a large soup pot set over medium heat pour 3 tablespoons of ghee (or clarified butter) and stir-fry the onions until they turn brownish, adding one tablespoon of sugar to speed the process if desired. Add the chicken pieces and sprinkle with ‘Knorr Halal Chicken Flavored Seasoning’. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides over the onions.
2. Pour the water over the chicken and add the rest of the spices: cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and the dried lemon. Close the pot and bring to a simmer; let it simmer slowly for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
3. Meanwhile, soak the rice in tap water for about 20 minutes.
4. In a skillet set over medium/low heat, pour the remaining 3 tbsp of ghee, add the carrots and stir-fry for 15 minutes. Add the raisins after 10 minutes. Add the rest of the sugar. Stir the carrots, cover the pot, and steam over low heat until the carrots get more tender, about 10 more minutes.
5. Transfer the chicken pieces to a side dish. If desired, use an immersion blender to purée the sauce. Taste to adjust the seasoning. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil; drain the rice and add it to the sauce. The sauce should cover the rice by about one inch. If not, add more water. Cover the pot and simmer the rice for about 20 minutes
until most of the sauce is absorbed and poke marks appear on the rice surface.
6. Add the chicken pieces and carrot mixture back on top of the rice. Close the lid and steam the pilaf slowly for about 10 minutes over very low heat.
7. Sprinkle the pistachio nuts on the pilaf to garnish and serve right away.
1. The pilaf is good served with a side of plain yogurt.
2. I did not add salt because the Knorr Halal Chicken Flavored Seasoning is already salted to my taste.
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