Qabuli pulao (Rice Pilaf with Meat, Raisin & Carrots)

qabuli pulao recipe
  • Servings : 4-6
  • Prep Time : 25m
  • Cook Time : 2:30 h
  • Ready In : 2:55 h

Qabuli pulao is the most popular dish in Afghanistan, and is considered the national dish. It is a made by cooking basmati or long grained rice in a brothy sauce (which makes the rice brown). This dish may be made with lamb, chicken, or beef. Qabili Palau is baked in the oven and topped with fried sliced carrots and raisins. Chopped nuts like pistachios or almonds may be added as well. The meat is covered by the rice or buried in the middle of the dish.


    Meat Ingredients:
    • 1kg lamb leg or shoulder, on the bone, chopped into 6 cm pieces
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 3 garlic
    • 1 cup water
    Carrot & Raisins Mix Ingredients:
    • 4 carrots, peeled
    • 1 cup raisins
    • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    Rice Ingredients:
    • 1 kg sella basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 4 hours or overnight
    • 10 cup water
    • 3 tbsp salt
    • ½ cup oil
    • 4 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 cup meat broth


    Step 1

    Soak rice in water in a bowl and keep aside.

    Step 2

    Heat oil in a pressure cooker and fry onions with garlic until golden brown. Add meat pieces to the fried onion and cook until light brown on both sides. Add water (boiled) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered until meat is tender. Add more water if required.

    Step 3

    In a separate pan, sauté carrots, in a small quantity of oil, add sugar and ¼ cup water and and fry until softened. Remove from pan and keep aside. Add a little oil to the pan and sauté raisins until they swell up. Add carrots and mix it with raisin. Remove from pan and set aside.

    Step 4

    Place 4 tbsp sugar in a hot, dry saucepan over medium heat. Cook, shaking pan, for 5–6 minutes or until sugar has caramelised. Carefully add ½ cup oil, 1 tbsp salt, meat broth and cumin. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and set aside.

    Step 5

    Drain the soaked rice. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling water with 2 tbsp salt for 10 minutes, or until almost cooked. Drain and return to pan. Pour over the caramelised sugar mixture and stir until rice is evenly coated. Mix rise will and sing the end of a large spoon, make holes all over rice to allow it to steam evenly.

    Step 6

    Top with spiced carrot and reserved lamb. Cover and seal pan with a tea towel, then a lid. Place over low heat and cook for 5 minutes, or until you hear a ticking sound. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    Step 7

    Remove lamb and spiced carrots, and mix rice well. To serve, cover base of a platter with a little rice, spoon over the lamb and then cover with remaining rice. Top with spiced carrot.

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    Recipe Comments

    1. posted by Laiba on August 31, 2013


      How much rice exactly do I need? Thank you!

    2. posted by Karman on March 7, 2014

      It looks amazing!!! Thanks for such beautiful recipe!!!

    3. posted by Julia on May 26, 2014

      I went to a wonderful Afghan restaurant last week, and the food was delicious. Now I want to learn more about Afghan food and cooking. Thanks for the recipes!

    4. posted by Allison W on June 17, 2014

      I also want to know how much rice is in 1kg. I feel like i am guessing. I want the right amount of water

    5. posted by Charleen on November 11, 2014

      Wonderful recipe , although it sounds like it is very large. How many does it serve?

      • posted by nash on December 19, 2014


    6. posted by chris on January 31, 2016

      1 kg is 2.2 lbs or about 35oz of rice. And afghan meals are almost always family style, so almost always expect the portions to be big


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