Kabuli Pilau – Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots

The first time I had Kabuli Pilau was in my first year of college, at a local restaurant with my family. I remember seeing the dished out serving platter of lightly browned rice, scattered with glistening raisins and carrots and large chunks of meat and thinking ‘Oh, well. Guess I’m not eating tonight’.

Before that night, I was ethically against mixing sweet and savoury together. I thought it was a heinous culinary crime and the very thought of it sent my tastebuds sprinting away in disgust.

But that was before that night.

Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots

That night, I learnt that with the right flavours, textures and richness, combining sweet and savoury can turn into a celebration of flavours in your mouth. Kabuli Pilau just gets that combination oh so right! Oh, how the sweet raisins compliment the rich, moreish mutton chunks and how the crunchy nuts go so wonderfully with the soft, tender carrots and rice. This was a union made in heaven, I tell you.

After that night, I stopped wanting burgers and chips on those nights I went out for dinner. I began to actively search for Afghan restaurants to eat because now, the only thing that appealed to me was getting a good helping of The Rice From Heaven. I spent a year or so like this, always wanting to go out for Kabuli Pilau. It wasn’t till I began to venture into the kitchen and cook with aromatic whole spices that it occured to me that – perhaps I could cook The Rice From Heaven at home and have it more than once every 4 months!

Genius!

Well, lets say it took more than a few trials before I got there.

Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots

You see, there are quite a few essentials for a good Kabuli Pilau, which took me quite some time to learn. Whilst I am not Afghan, nor do I have any Afghan influences on my cooking, I have learnt by asking friends, researching on the internet and of course eating out from as many Afghan restaurants as possible. Here is what I have concluded make a darn good Kabuli Pilau

  1. The meat should be mutton and should be cut into large, meaty chunks. It needs to be cooked till tender to the touch and should fall apart with no resistance at all
  2. The stock shouldn’t be spiced too strongly, nor should it be too bland. This is a tough combination to get to, but I feel like this recipe is the perfect balance
  3. The raisins and carrots should be tender. The raisins should be cooked till they swell up and the carrots should not have any rawness in them
  4. Rice used should be ‘sella’ rice, not basmati. Traditionally, Kabuli Pilau is made with sella rice. That doesn’t mean you can’t use basmati – it’s just that sella enhances the experience
  5. Kabuli Pilau should always be served with a salad. Always

Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots

Here we have it! Those are my essentials for The Rice From Heaven! I am very happy to be sharing this recipe with you all. It’s one that my little brother and husband regularly request from me and I love it all the more because I had to go through many botched attempts before I found the perfect recipe!

Enjoy, with love x

Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
Print Recipe
Servings
5 servings
Cook Time
2 hrs
Servings
5 servings
Cook Time
2 hrs
Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
Print Recipe
Servings
5 servings
Cook Time
2 hrs
Servings
5 servings
Cook Time
2 hrs
Ingredients
For the stock (yakhni)
  • 800 grams mutton, bone in
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp whole black pepper corns
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 bayleafs
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp salt, or to taste
For the rice
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 600 grams sella rice
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • oil, to fry the onions
For the carrot topping
  • 2 medium sized carrots, julienne cut
  • 1 big handful raisins or sultanas
  • 1 big handful nuts, lightly crushed (I used pistachios but any will do)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • oil, for frying
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients for the yakhni to a pot and cover with enough water to submerge all the meat. Bring to a boil and then cover, simmering for 1.5-2hrs, till the meat is tender but not falling off the bone. Keep checking after the 1.5hr mark to get till the right doneness
    Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
  2. Meanwhile, in a pan heat 3-4tbsp of oil and add your julienne-cut carrots. Saute these on medium heat for 5 minutes, till they are tender and then add the raisins. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, till the raisins begin to swell up. FInally, add 2tbsp of sugar and the lightly crushed nuts and cook for just a minute. Turn off the heat
    Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
  3. Take a clean sheet of aluminium foil and place the carrot mixture with all the oil onto it. Fold it around the edges tightly into a parcel shape. Set aside
    Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
  4. When the mutton is tender, strain out the liquid stock using a colander and discard the whole spices. Reserve the stock.
    Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
  5. In a heavy based pot, heat 4-5tbsp of oil and add 3 thinly sliced small onions and 1tbsp cumin seeds. Saute this on medium-high till the onions become lightly brown. The darker the onions become, the darker the rice will be. I prefer my Kabuli Pilau to be a light shade of brown, therefore I sauted my onions this much. You can saute them more if you prefer a darker shade.
  6. Once the onions are to your desired colour, add the mutton from the stock. Saute for 5-8 minutes
    Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
  7. Add the rice, stock and top up with water if required. My rule of thumb for Pilau is to have enough water to get to this level (see picture below).
    Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
  8. Cook on high heat till the water begins to boil and then reduces, until there is very little water left in the pot. Stir once or twice using a 'panja' (see picture below), being careful not to break any rice pieces.
    Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
  9. At this point, reduce the heat to the lowest possible, add the foil parcel full of the carrot mix and cover with a lid wrapped with a tea towel. Allow it to steam like this for 10-15 minutes.
    Kabuli Pilau - Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots
  10. To serve, plate the rice on a rice platter, add the chunks of mutton so they are at the top and on full display and scatter with raisins, nuts and carrots from the foil parcel.
  11. Your Kabuli Pilau is ready! Serve with salad and raita!
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

5 thoughts on “Kabuli Pilau – Afghanistani Rice with Mutton, Raisins, Nuts and Carrots

Leave a Reply