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Kabuli Pulao: A Taste of Afghanistan in Your Kitchen

Kabuli Pulao, often referred to as the national dish of Afghanistan, is a culinary masterpiece that promises to delight your senses with its distinct and robust flavors. It's a vibrant and aromatic dish that beautifully combines tender mutton meat, fluffy basmati rice, and a medley of spices that create a symphony of flavors. Accented with sweet carrots and raisins, and given an added depth with a touch of caramelized sugar syrup, this version of the dish maintains the authenticity of the traditional recipe while adapting it for ease and accessibility. Whether you're hosting a dinner party or just looking for an exotic twist to your weekday meals, this Kabuli Pulao recipe will not disappoint. Prepare yourself for a gastronomic journey to the heart of Afghanistan with this simple, yet elegant dish. Enjoy!


  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

  • 1¼ cup chopped onions

  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic (approx. 4-5 large cloves)

  • 500g mutton meat

  • 1½ tsp salt (or to taste)

  • ½ tsp cumin

  • ¼ tsp pepper

  • 1½ cups of water

  • 3 cups soaked basmati rice

  • Few drops of lemon juice

  • 1 shredded carrot

  • 1 cup soaked raisins

  • 5 tbsp water

  • 1 tbsp sugar

  • 3 black cardamom seeds

  • 1 green cardamom

  • 4 cloves

  • ½ tsp roasted cumin powder

  • 2 tbsp butter


  1. Heat 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a pressure cooker, add the chopped onions and sauté until they become translucent.

  2. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.

  3. Add the mutton meat and sauté on medium-high heat for 1 minute.

  4. Season with salt, cumin, and pepper. Add water, then close the pressure cooker and cook until the meat is tender (around 20-25 minutes depending on your pressure cooker).

  5. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, boil water with 2 heaped tsp of salt. Cook the soaked basmati rice in this water for about 6-7 minutes until it is 90% cooked. Add a few drops of lemon juice to maintain the white color of the rice. Drain the rice and set it aside.

  6. In a small pan, sauté the shredded carrot for 5 minutes on medium heat. Do the same with the soaked raisins, then set them aside.

  7. In the same pan, add 1 tbsp of water and 1 tbsp of sugar. Cook until the sugar caramelizes and turns a brown color. Turn off the heat, add 4 tbsp of water and set this caramel syrup aside.

  8. For the pulao masala, grind the black cardamom seeds, green cardamom, and cloves using a mortar and pestle. Add the roasted cumin powder and mix well.

  9. Layer half of the rice in a deep pot, add the cooked meat and the remaining gravy (if the gravy is too liquid, reduce it by heating).

  10. Add the remaining rice, followed by the caramelized sugar syrup, the pulao masala, sautéed carrots, raisins, and finally, 2 tbsp of butter.

  11. Cover and cook on the lowest heat for 20 minutes (this process is also known as 'dum').

  12. After 20 minutes, stir everything well so the rice is fully incorporated and gains a brownish color.

  13. Cover the pot again, and your Kabuli Pulao is ready to serve hot!

Enjoy your meal!


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