Kabuli palaw or Qabili Palau consists of steamed rice cooked in a flavour-packed meat broth and topped with meat, fried almonds and caramelized carrots and raisins.
As part of my GlobeCookingMad series, I am sharing my humble attempt at the Central Asian country, Afghanistan's national dish, Qabili Palau.
Afghanistan, I think most of us are aware of this country mostly for the wrong reasons. However, let us focus on their cuisine, shall we? Afghan cuisine is largely influenced by Persian, Indian and Mediterranean cultures. I was surprised that they too have naans, chapatis, and all types of pulao or palaw as they call it. They have bolanis that are similar to our stuffed parathas. Their national dish is Kabuli Palau and it is known by different names like Kabuli, Kabul, Qabul, and Qabili Palaw.
Are you curious why it is named both Kabuli and Qabili? Humaira Ghilzai shares the reason in her article!
Kabuli Palau was initially consumed by the upper-class Kabul families as they could afford the ingredients. Over time as the people of Afghanistan became wealthier, this dish became more common. So, the name Qabili Palau was coined. The Dari word Qabil - means well accomplished, indicating that only a skilled chef can truly balance the various flavours of this dish. Qabil is also Urdu and Hindi for "capable", and that is the reason I chose to call this Qabili Palau first. I also read that in some regions of Pakistan they make Qabili Palau but the recipe has garam masala along with the rest of the ingredients and is prepared the same way.
- Oil: Any neutral cooking oil. I have used sunflower oil.
- Almonds: You may use store-bought sliced almonds.
- Veggies: carrots and onions
- Raisins: I have used golden raisins in these images as I ran out of black ones.
- Meat: Use mutton or lamb with bone. You may make this with chicken too.
- Ground spices: cumin powder, cardamom powder, and black pepper powder
- Basmati rice
- Whole spices: green cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick
One of my aim in cooking is to reduce dishes as I don't have a dishwasher. You may cook in multiple pans simultaneously to save time or use just two pots as I did.
I started in my pressure cooker with oil:
- Fried the almonds and removed and kept it aside.
- Fried the carrots and then the raisins and again removed and kept them aside.
- Browned the onions and meat along with spices.
- Pressure-cooked the meat with water.
- Removed the meat and kept it aside.
In another Pot:
- Par-boiled the rice to al dente.
- Added the broth from pressure cooker to the rice and topped with the cooked meat and the carrot and raisins.
- Covered and cooked on low until rice is done.
- Served warm with fried almonds, yoghurt and salad
I have to warn you, that you will end up having a delightful afternoon siesta after enjoying a plate of Qabili Palau. We did. Thank God it was a weekend!
End the meal with a delicious Dried Fig and Rice Pudding!
Next country on my list to cook is Albania!
Qabili Palau | Kabuli Palaw | Afghanistan
For Almonds, Carrots and Raisins Toppings
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil sunflower oil or canola oil etc.
- ¼ cup almonds, blanched, peeled and sliced
- 2 large carrots, chopped into thin batons
- ⅓ cup black raisins
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil if required
- 2 medium-sized onions, diced finely
- 500 grams mutton or lamb pieces with bone
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- ¾ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 teaspoon pepper powder
- 1 cup water
- salt to taste
To Par-boil the Rice
- 1¼ cup basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for 10 mins
- 5 cups water
- 1 green cardamom
- 2 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon
- salt to taste
Prepare the Almonds, Carrots and Raisins
- Heat oil in a pressure cooker or pot in which you would want to cook the meat.
- Fry the sliced almonds until golden brown and remove using a slotted spoon and keep them aside.
- Add the carrot batons and sauté until wilted and darkens in colour. Stir in the raisins and saute until they are all plumped up. You may sprinkle sugar to caramelize them. Remove the carrot and raisins with the slotted spoon and keep them aside
Prepare the Meat Broth
- Add more cooking oil if required and fry the onions until almost browned.
- Add the meat pieces and sear them until browned.
- Add the spices and salt and cook until all the moisture is released and almost dried.
- Add a cup of water and pressure cook for 15 to 20 mins on low to medium flame or until the meat is cooked through.
- Use a slotted spoon and remove the cooked meat pieces and keep them aside.
- Keep the broth with all the onions aside for later use.
For the Rice
- Take the deep pot in which you plan to assemble the rice and add a lot of water, whole spices and salt.
- Keep the flame on high and bring the water to a full boil.
- Add the drained rice carefully and continue on high flame to bring back the water to a full boil.
- Stir and boil until the rice is half cooked or doubled in size. (approx 2 to 3 mins)
- Drain the rice into a colander and put the rice back into the pot.
- Reduce the flame to the lowest and slide a flat pan (heat diffuser) under the pot.
- Carefully fold in the meat broth using a rubber spatula so that all of the rice is coated.
- Place the meat pieces on one side and add the carrot raisins on another side.
- Cover the pot with foil or a clean cloth and then cover with the pot lid.
- Cook for 30 to 40 minutes.
How to Serve Qabili Palau
- Open the pot and remove the meat pieces and the carrot raisins mix and keep them aside separately.
- Add the rice to a serving plate and top with the meat and more rice.
- Garnish with the prepared carrots and raisins and fried almonds.
- Serve Qabili Palau with yoghurt and salad.