Kabuli/Qabili Palaw-Afghani Rice


Qabili Palau is one of the things Afghans cannot live without. I am very excited to share with you all Afghanistan’s national dish. There are many ways to make this delicious dish. Garnishing it with raisins and carrots is what makes this dish so unique. In my recipe, I also garnish it with almonds and pistachio which is completely optional but makes it super tasty.

Washing & Soaking Basmati Rice

First of all, you wash and soak your rice. The longer you let it soak in water, the better it is. Some people soak it the night before and leave in the fridge. Of course it is not a must. In my opinion, just few hours will do the job. But would love to hear it from all the experts 😉 Leave your comments below.

Let’s begin cooking!

Before you start boiling your rice, you need to do three things. Simmer the meat, Fry raisins and carrots and fry sugar for colouring.

Simmering the meat
For meat, you can cook veal or lamb. Here is what you will need:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 kg Veal

And for the species, you will need:

  • 1 tsp black pepper (grounded)
  • 1 tsp char masala
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. salt

To begin, add vegetable oil in a pan. You can use any kind of pan, as long as it holds the meat and 2 glasses of water at the end.  Continue by adding chopped onions. Continue stirring the onions. Fry onions until its dark brown and then add the meat. Keep stirring and frying until the meat gets medium brown. Continue by adding water and your spices. Let it simmer for at least 25 minutes or until meat is cooked.

Frying raisins and carrot sticks

Next step is to fry raisins and carrots. Add vegetable oil in a pan. Add raisins and fry it until it is plumped. You can use the same oil to fry carrot sticks. The carrot sticks are found ready in some grocery shops or you can do it yourself at home. When chopping them, make sure they are not too thin or they will burn during frying.  Fry it until it gets a deep orange colour.

Frying sugar for coloring

Last thing to do before boiling the rice is to fry sugar for coloring. Although it is not considered a very healthy method, it is one of the traditional ways to color. If you guys have any other techniques, leave in the comments below. Start by adding vegetable oil in a pan. You need to have the air vents on for the next step. Add sugar and fry it until it is dark brown and then add water. It will get very steamy once you add the water. It is normal and you need to have the air vents on for that.

Boiling and cooking the rice

Now that you have everything ready, it is time to boil the rice.  Here is what you will need to boil and cook the rice:

  • 3 cups boiled rice
  • fried sugar for coloring
  • cooked veal
  • fried carrots
  • fried raisins
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 tsp char masala on cooked veal
  • 1/2 tsp sugar on carrots
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom on carrots
  • 1 tsp black pepper on rice

Boil water and add washed rice. Boil rice until it is soft, Drain water from rice. Heat a Pan on High heat and add vegetable oil, boiled rice, fried sugar for coloring and mix well. Continue by adding the cooked veal on top of the rice. Add some char masala on the veal and cover it with a bit of rice. Next, add fried carrots and fried raisins on top of the rice. Add some sugar and cardamom on the carrots. Cardamom is always used for a good smell. Wrap almonds and pistachios in a clear and thin plastic bag and put it on top of the rice.  This will just make it easier to retrieve it later. You don’t want it to get mixed with the rice. Add grounded black pepper on top of the rice. To finish, make holes in the rice with the back of a spatula. We always do this with all kinds of Afghani rice. Makes it easier for the water to evaporate from the rice and it cooks really good. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel and place it on the pot. Cook on high for 5 minutes. This part is very delicate. You don’t want the rice to burn. Estimate is 5 minutes but once you see steams coming out of the towel you bring the temperature down right away. Back home, we would listen for rice popping noise before bring the temperature down. But you have to be really careful not to burn it. Ever if the very first layer of rice burns, the whole rice will smell burnt. Then lower the heat and let it cook on low for at least 25 minutes.  Once you smell the nice & appealing smell of rice, you know it is all ready. Pick a flat dish and serve it in layers: rice, carrots, raisins and finally almonds and pistachios (optional but a must) 😉

Qabuli is usually served with salad, meatballs and spinach stew. Click here for the recipe:


Spinach Stew


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