Chefs' Recipes

Parwana Afghan Kitchen's Kabuli palaw

The must-have rice dish for Afghan gatherings.

By The Ayubi family
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 40 mins cooking
  • Serves 6 - 8
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Kabuli palaw
"Kabuli palaw is a staple at any Afghan gathering," says Durkhanai Ayubi. "Rice is very precious for Afghans - it forms the centrepiece of the meal, and all the other food is presented around it. The test of a well-cooked rice dish is that the grains do not stick together and remain as elongated as possible. Many brides-to-be (and maybe even grooms these days) are judged on their ability to cook this dish well. This recipe is from my mother." Begin it a day ahead to soak the rice.


  • 150 ml vegetable oil
  • ½ large carrot, cut into julienne
  • 75 gm sultanas
  • 1 tbsp each slivered almonds and pistachios
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • ¾ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500 gm basmati rice, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
  • ½ tsp ground cumin


  • 1
    Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add carrot and fry, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened (2-3 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a sieve to drain. Add sultanas to oil, fry until they float to the surface (1-2 minutes), remove with a slotted spoon and add to carrot. Add nuts, sugar and ½ tsp cardamom to pan and fry, stirring, until golden brown (1-2 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and add to carrot mixture. Add onion to pan and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender (6-8 minutes). Set aside separately.
  • 2
    Half-fill a large saucepan with water, add 1½ tsp salt and bring to the boil over high heat. Add rice, cover and boil until rice is twice the size of the original grain (6-8 minutes), then drain in
    a colander.
  • 3
    Return rice to saucepan, add fried onion, cumin, remaining cardamom and 2 tsp salt, add 125ml boiling water, cover with a lid and place over high heat. Cook until steam can be seen coming from beneath the lid, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Season to taste and serve hot scattered with carrot mixture.