Afghani Pulao

Disclaimer: I always like to write a little disclaimer when I post traditional recipes (other than Indian of course!). My love for cooking motivates me to try different types of cuisines in the world, but I obviously cannot comment about how authentic the recipes are.

Whatever I know is through books and internet but what I can tell you is that this recipe of Afghani Pulao was delicious and I am so happy to be sharing it with you guys! I love Afghan cuisine, it’s one my absolute favorites and one of the most popular recipe on the blog happens to be Afghan too.

This is my humble attempt at making the very famous Afghani Kabuli Palaw/Pulao. Since I am a vegetarian, my version does not include the meat.

Afghani Pulao

Ever since we have moved to our new house, we never sit at home on weekends. We have so much stuff to buy but the most important thing that we need right now is a sofa and for the last 1 month, we have been looking for sofas every weekend.

I don’t think we have left any furniture shop in and around the Seattle area, from Crate & Barrel to Room & Board, to Kasala to the local furniture stores we have seen it all! Seriously it’s so frustrating, when you are not getting what you want.

I think now we have reached a saturation limit and soon going to finalize one. I mean I want to move ahead with this sofa business, there’s so much other stuff to buy too!

And when there’s so much running around, I prefer to eat some comfort food like rice. Do you guys like Afghan cuisine? It’s one of my absolute favorites and co-incidentally an Afghan eggplant recipe called Borani Banjan is one of the most popular recipes on my blog!

There’s a very nice Afghan restaurant here and I just love love the food there. One of our favorites is Kabuli Palaw or simple Afghani Pulao. This pulao is a traditional Afghan dish and no celebration is complete without it. Usually it has meat in it too but of course since I made it, it had to be vegetarian.

In fact it’s almost vegan too, just soak the saffron in some water or non-dairy milk in place of regular milk and then this will be all vegan. The vegetarian kabuli pulao has 2 main ingredients – carrots and raisins.

Afghan Kabuli Pulao

Kabuli pulao is not your ordinary dish, not something which you would make everyday. It’s for special occasions because it’s rich and not too light on your stomach. While it’s a complete meal in itself if it’s made with meat, but with a vegetarian version like this, you probably need to serve it with a side dish like borani banjan or some other veggies and salads.

The most important thing for making kabuli palaw is to choose the right type of rice. I used Sella Basmati Rice and it works so well in making pulao, biryanis etc.

Kabuli Palaw

Remember a good pulao is all about using the right rice. Long rice grains, perfectly cooked and each grain separated from one another = perfect pulao! And the most basic thing you can do to make it right is buy the right rice. Anyway enough of my gyaan about pulao let’s get to this delicious recipe of Afghani Pulao.

Kabuli Pulao

 

Method

Soak basmati rice in enough water for 45 minutes. Drain the rice and set aside. In a large pan, bring water to boil, add around 2-3 teaspoons of salt to the water as it boils. [Don’t worry rice won’t be salty as we drain all the water]

When water comes to a boil, add the soaked & drained rice to it. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring at regular intervals in between. We don’t want to fully cook the rice and it must not turn mushy. Just like we cook the pasta till al dente (firm to bite), the rice should also be cooked to a point when it’s still firm. If you soak the rice for 45 minutes to 1 hour, it should not take more than 10 minutes for rice to reach that stage.

Remove the pan from heat as soon as rice is done and then drain. Set aside.

Afghani Pulao Recipe-Step-1

While the rice was cooking in step 1, heat vegetable oil in a pan. Once oil is hot, add the shredded carrots.

Cook for 1-2 minutes and then add 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix.

Once the color of the carrot starts changing a bit, add raisins and cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel. Don’t drain the oil that you used for frying the carrots and raisins, we will use it the next steps.
Afghani Pulao Recipe-Step-2

Now take a large sheet of aluminium foil and place the fried carrot and raisins in the center.

Close all sides to form an aluminium foil packet with the carrot and raisins inside.

In the meanwhile, transfer the cooked rice back to the pan again.

Afghani Pulao Recipe-Step-3

Just to show you, I kept a flat skillet and then placed the pan with rice on top of it. We will steam the rice on low heat for 20-30 minutes and this ensures that rice doesn’t burn.

Sprinkle cardamom powder on top of the rice and then place the prepared aluminium packet on one side of the rice.

Now add the oil that was leftover after frying with carrots and raisins to the rice. Just drop it all over.
Afghani Pulao Recipe-Step-4

Cover the pan tightly and let the rice steam with the carrots and raisins on low heat for 20-30 minutes. In the meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak some saffron in a tablespoon of milk.

Remove rice from the pan and transfer to serving bowl. Pour the soaked saffron all over the rice. Sprinkle some cumin powder.

Open the aluminium foil packet and top the rice with the carrots and raisins.
Afghani Pulao Recipe-Step-5

Enjoy Afghani Pulao as such or serve with a side of borani banjan! Mmmmm!!

Afghani Pulao

* Cumin powder is optional, you can even sprinkle some garam masala on top.

* Do not use the ready made cardamom powder that you get in stores. Use green cardamom pods, take out the seeds and crush them using mortar and pestle to get the powder. It makes a huge difference.

Afghani Pulao

Lightly sweetened Vegetarian Afghani Pulao with carrots and raisins makes a great meal!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Afghan
Keyword Afghani Pulao
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 564 kcal
Author: Manali
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Ingredients

Rice

Carrots and raisins

  • 1.25 cups carrot, shredded or thinly sliced
  • cup raisins
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

Instructions

  1. Soak basmati rice in enough water for 45 minutes. Drain the rice and set aside.
  2. In a large pan, bring water to boil, add around 2-3 teaspoons of salt to the water as it boils.
  3. When water comes to a boil, add the soaked & drained rice to it. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring at regular intervals in between. We don't want to fully cook the rice and it must not turn mushy. Just like we cook the pasta till al dente (firm to bite), the rice should also be cooked to a point when it's still firm. If you soak the rice for 45 minutes to 1 hour, it should not take more than 10 minutes for rice to reach that stage.
  4. Remove the pan from heat as soon as rice is done and then drain. Set aside.
  5. While the rice was cooking in step 1, heat vegetable oil in a pan. Once oil is hot, add the shredded carrots.
  6. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then add 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix.
  7. Once the color of the carrot starts changing a bit, add raisins and cook for another minute or two.
  8. Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel. Don't drain the oil that you used for frying the carrots and raisins, we will use it the next steps.
  9. Now take a large sheet of aluminium foil and place the fried carrot and raisins in the center.
  10. Close all sides to form an aluminium foil packet with the carrot and raisins inside.
  11. In the meanwhile, transfer the cooked rice back to the pan again.
  12. Place the pan on low heat with a skillet underneath (see picture above).
  13. Sprinkle cardamom powder on top of the rice and then place the prepared aluminium packet on one side of the rice.
  14. Now add the oil that was leftover after frying with carrots and raisins to the rice. Just drop it all over.
  15. Cover the pan tightly and let the rice steam with the carrots and raisins on low heat for 20-30 minutes. In the meanwhile, in a small bowl, soak some saffron in a tablespoon of milk.
  16. Remove rice from the pan and transfer to serving bowl. Pour the soaked saffron all over the rice. Sprinkle some cumin powder.
  17. Open the aluminium foil packet and top the rice with the carrots and raisins.
  18. Enjoy Afghani Pulao as such or serve with a side of borani banjan.
Nutrition Facts
Afghani Pulao
Amount Per Serving
Calories 564 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 28%
Saturated Fat 14g 70%
Sodium 1198mg 50%
Potassium 334mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 93g 31%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 7g
Protein 7g 14%
Vitamin A 133.6%
Vitamin C 3.6%
Calcium 4.2%
Iron 6.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 Afghani Kabuli Pulao

Afghan Kabuli Pulao Collage-nocwm

40 thoughts on “Afghani Pulao

  1. Ok, firstly I totally get the sofa thing. It took us forever to buy our last sofa because I was so picky. Such a large piece of furniture has to be perfect, right?! I have never tried afghan cuisine, but this looks like the perfect place to start. What a beautiful combination of sweet and spice 🙂 Thanks Manali!

    1. Emma, you totally need to! They have some wonderful vegetarian options, their spinach is very good too!! 🙂 And yes finding the right sofa is such a pain. But I think we are now very close to getting the right one, fingers crossed!

  2. I love that you put that disclaimer there! Even though I’m sure whatever you cook is totally delicious and probably very authentic, that’s just so thoughtful of you 🙂 And this pulao looks awesome!

  3. This Pulao sounds very delicious, Manali! You are right, good rice is KEY to make good pulao. I also use only Basmati. But, never heard of Sela Basmati before? PS: I hope you have great time picking a good sofa! 😉

    1. Thanks Savita! Isn’t rice THE most important thing for pulao! Sela Basmati rice is so good Savita, you have to try. I got it from a Pakistani Grocery store!

  4. My husband spent some time in Afghanistan a couple years ago. He would tell me stories about all the food he was able to try. It was usually prepared by the locals and they would feast over meetings. I’m excited to try this pulao. I wonder if hubby would recognize the flavors. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Furniture shopping can be fun and it can be really frustrating, hopefully something works out for you soon! I love the flavors in this dish too, I would’ve never thought to combine them but they sound wonderful!

  6. Ah, yes. . I remember those days of running around buying furniture and all sorts of odd ends after just moving into our house. . hope you are enjoying it and also getting some rest. . I love it when you share ethnic cuisines!!!! this dish looks absolutely amazing!

  7. I must say that I am not terribly familiar with Afghan food. Carrots and raisins is a fairly common side dish, so this doesn’t look too far off from that. I am loving all of the seasonings in this, though! I definitely need to try it soon!

  8. Hi manali this is perfect! I’m afghani and my mom always cooks kabuli Palau like this when she doesn’t want to hassle with cooking meat!! One thing though, usually the rice is colored with sugar not saffron! In a small pan add a little sugar and stir until it gets a bit darker than caramel then remove from heat and add water while stirring quickly. Then just pour it over the rice and stir 🙂 it leaves a lovely golden brown rice!

    1. Hi Morsal! Thanks for dropping by! And wow thanks for that info and tip. I will definitely try that the next time I make kabuli pulao 🙂

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