Thursday 20 August 2020

Kabuli Pallau - Qabuli Palao

Qabuli Palau

Kabuli Pallau
Qabully Polau

This rice dish is typical of the region in and around Afghanistan. It is served on its own or with a dish of yoghurt on the side. The flavour of this dish comes from the bone broth made from your lamb shanks, which is subtle. The richer and deeper the flavour of the broth, the bolder the rice. Left over rice can be eaten with fried fish or kebabs. 

I have often eaten this in London, where one gets the most authentic restaurants from every region of the world. This is a recreation—my version of what we have been enjoying for the past decade in restaurants.

Serves 6

4 lamb shanks

4 small to medium onions

12 each of cloves, pepper corn, cracked cardamom pods 
1 stick of cinnamon
2 tsp salt
2 whole pods of garlic

12 cups water

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp garam masalo

1 tsp salt or to taste

2 cups rice -washed and rinsed 

A simple syrup of 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup water

Juice of 1 large lemon

1 tbsp candied orange peel

2 peeled and ribboned or julliened carrots

Optional to decorate: a handful of raisins and almonds You can also add a few dried apricots (jardaloo) to this dish.

In a pan, heat a knob of butter and oil. Brown the lamb shanks all over until completely caramelised. Add the onions and allow them to sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the spices and then the water. Bring it to a boil and cover. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook this for 3 hours, or until the meat is tender.

Remove and strain the broth. Keep aside.

Make a syrup with the sugar and water, and add to this the juice of one lemon, orange peel, and carrots.

In the larger pot (now empty), sauté the tomato paste, cumin, garam masalo salt, and the cooked lamb. Use a little of the 4 cups of broth to bring it all together.

Place the raw, washed rice in the pot. On high heat, pour the broth over it and bring it to a boil. Let it cook until the broth has almost evaporated, allowing you to see the rice surface to the top. This will take 10 minutes. Pour the syrup with all the other vegetables and fruit in it. Cover this with a damp piece of parchment and place it all the way down to touch the rice. Cover the pot with a tight lid to prevent the steam from escaping.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow it to cook for another 30 minutes.

Turn the stove off and let it rest for another ten minutes. Serve it sprinkled with raisins and almonds that have been lightly toasted.


Wash the rice at least ten times until the water runs clear.


 Photo credit Niloufer Mavalvala

My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.

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