Doesn’t Buddas of Bamiyan look like something out of Star Wars? Welcome to Afghanistan, a landlocked country situated between Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. It holds the title for the most flag changes out of any other country- a total of 26! This country is known for its extreme weather due to its large range of elevation of 23,734ft between its highest and lowest points and contrasting arid and mountainous terrains. The world’s oldest oil paintings have been found in Afghanistan and date back to 650 BC. Lastly did you know Afghans have been asking for their national game buzkashi or goat grabbing to become an Olympic sport? Wouldn’t that be interesting..
The cuisine of Afghanistan has influence from India, Persia, and Central Asia. Rice using usually found at the base of every meal accompanied by meat (lamb and chicken mostly), nuts, fruit, and vegetables. Tea like in many countries is a sign of hospitality and often shared between family and friends. The recipe I decided to make is called Kabuli Palau, also known as Qabili Palau which is Afghanistan’s national dish! This decadent dish was first made by the upper class Afghans, but over time as society became wealthier the dish was made all over the country despite status. The name then changed from Kabuli Palau to Qabili Palau. Its said that the ability of a Afghan woman to make this dish will effect her marriage prospects (dramatic eye roll)..
To help myself out I decided to cook the carrot, raisin, and almonds the night before so that I wasn’t so crunched on time during the week. The recipe was easy to follow and used basic cooking techniques. The chicken smelled so lovely while it cooked!
What a beautiful dish! I knew from the get go it was going to be delicious. The warmth from the seasoning for the rice and meat is well balanced with the caramelized carrots, almonds, and raisins. Overall it left me feeling completely satisfied! We have already made this meal again since it was originally made, it is now part of my repertoire. We rated it 8.75/10.
Afghan Kabuli Palau
- 2 cups white rice basmati/jasmine
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1.5 lb chicken I used boneless thighs
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 cups carrots thinly sliced
- 2 tsp sugar
- Heat 4 tbsp oil in dutch oven/large pot on medium heat and cook onions until golden. Then add garlic cooking for 3 minutes or until fragrant.
- Add the chicken to the onions and garlic allowing chicken to brown on all sides. While chicken is cooking add all the spices and salt and pepper.
- Once chicken is browned add 1 1/2 cups water and cover. Allow chicken to cook for one hour at a simmer.
- While the chicken is cooking prep your carrots and almonds. Heat pan at medium heat and toast almonds. Once slightly colored remove from pan. Fill pot with water and add 1 tbsp salt, get this boiling for the rice.
- With the pan still at medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil the carrots sautéing until they are slightly colored. Next add the raisins and cook until raisins "plump up." Add the sugar to the pan and mix raisins and carrots together. Once everything is caramelized return this mixture to the almonds and set aside.
- Once your water is boiling add the rice and cook about 6 minutes or until rice starts to soften (YOU DON'T WANT TO FULLY COOK RICE). Drain the water from rice.
- When the chicken is finished remove from pot and reserve 1/2 cup of broth. Add rice to remaining broth and layer chicken in the rice making a few "holes" in the rice to allow steam through. Pour the reserved broth on top. Place pilaf mixture of carrots, raisins, and almonds in tin foil pouch and place on top of rice/chicken.
- Allow rice to cook fully at medium heat with pot covered. Once rice is done it is time to assemble the meal! Layer chicken with rice then pilaf mix. Enjoy!