Cookbooks to Fuel Your Wanderlust

Cookbooks to Fuel Your Wanderlust

Cookbooks to Fuel Your Wanderlust – as seen in FORBES

Recipe for Kabuli Palaw – from Parwana



Rice with carrots and raisins

This beautiful and balanced rice is Afghanistan’s national dish. In a time before the convenience of julienne slicers and store-bought peeled and slivered nuts, kabuli palaw was time-consuming and elaborate to prepare, and was reserved primarily for ceremonial events. These days, although it takes less time to make, it still commands reverence. The delicate blend of spices and a crowning glory of glistening carrots, raisins, and nuts gives kabuli palaw pride of place among Afghan rice dishes. 

Pieces of lamb or chicken are usually buried beneath the rice, with the stock from the meat used to flavor it. If you prefer, you can leave out the meat and use vegetable stock instead. This version uses lamb, cooked to tenderness in a pressure cooker. The rice should be soaked for at least 2-3 hours beforehand. 


To prepare the palaw rice, add the oil and onion to a pressure cooker pan over high heat and fry for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the lamb and stir occasionally for 5 minutes, or until the meat is browned and sealed. Add 4¼ cups (1 liter) hot water and a heaped 1 tablespoon salt, place the lid on the pressure cooker, and bring to high pressure. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes, then carefully release the pressure to remove the lid. Using a slotted spoon, take out the meat (which should be lovely and tender) and set aside. Reserve the stock to flavor the rice. 

Bring 10 cups (2.5 liters) water to a boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, drain excess water from the rice, add it to the boiling water with 1 tablespoon salt, and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the rice is parboiled and the grains look like they have doubled in length.


½ cup (125 ml) sunflower oil 

2 medium yellow onions, finely diced 

1 lb 2 oz (500 g) diced boneless lamb leg

3 cups (1 lb 5 oz/600 g) sella basmati rice, soaked for 2-3 hours 

1 teaspoon ground cumin 

1 teaspoon ground cardamom 


2 cups (500 ml) sunflower oil 

2 medium carrots, trimmed, peeled, and cut into thin matchsticks 

Heaped 1 cup (6 oz/170 g) raisins or golden raisins 

Heaped 1 tablespoon slivered almonds

Heaped 1 tablespoon slivered pistachios

2 teaspoons white sugar 

1 teaspoon ground cardamom 


Drain the rice in a colander and return to the pot. Pour the meat stock over the rice, then add the cumin, cardamom, and 1 tablespoon salt to the mix. Using a large, flat slotted spoon, known to Afghans as a kafgeer, mix gently. With the kafgeer, create a well in the center of the rice and place the lamb in the well. Cover the meat with rice and place the lid on the pot. Cook over high heat until steam escapes from under the lid, then reduce the heat to very low and cook for 20 minutes. 

For the topping, heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat until shimmering. Add the carrot and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until slightly softened. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Add the raisins to the oil and fry for 3 minutes, or until they are plump and float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl with the carrot. Add the nuts, sugar, and cardamom to the bowl, and mix gently. 

Using the kafgeer, layer the rice and lamb onto a large serving platter, creating a heap. Liberally 

spoon over the topping and serve immediately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *