This week I am going to be making National dishes of three different countries. The first country I chose is Afghanistan and Quabuli / Kabuli Pulao is considered the national dish for this country. This dish is usually made with meat like lamb or chicken, but I have made a vegetarian version of it.
This dish is usually made with steamed rice, topped with the rich gravy and in my case vegetables and chickpeas and then with sweet carrots and raisins. It is then baked to allow the flavors to combine and then garnished with assorted nuts. The dish is pretty rich and is on the sweeter side. That is the major difference between the pulao’s made in India to this pulao made in Afghanistan.
The recipe is sort of time consuming, but if planned ahead then the assembly is a jiffy. I also made the dish in mostly one pan. This allowed for less clean up, but if you are in hurry you could use multiple pans and quicken the process. This would be a great dish for parties and potluck, since everything could be made ahead of time and then assembled and baked just before serving.
Preparation time – 30 mins
Cooking time – 1 hr 30 mins
Difficulty level – Medium
Ingredients – Serves 4-6
- Basmati Rice – 2 cups
- Onions – 2 large (chopped)
- Cauliflower – 2 cups (florets)
- Potato – 2 small (chopped into ½ inch piece)
- Carrots – 2 large or 3 medium (cut into very thin sticks)
- Raisins – ½ cup (preferably black raisins)
- Chick peas – 1- 14 oz can or 1 cup of presoaked and cooked beans
- Red chili powder – 1 tsp
- Garam masala – 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
- Salt- to taste
- Sugar – 1 tbsp
- Oil – 6 tbsp (divided)
- Assorted nuts (cashews, almonds and pista) – ¼ cup
- Saffron – ¼ tsp (soaked in 3 tbsp hot water)
- Wash and soak the rice in cold water for about 30 minutes. In a large pot, boil about 8-10 cups of water. Add enough salt to the water and then part cook the soaked rice for about 8 minutes. The rice would be cooked 3/4th and at this stage drain it a colander and let it sit.
- In a medium pan, heat about 2 tbsp of oil and sauté the onions until they are dark brown. Drain from the oil and let it cool a bit. Then grind it into a smooth paste adding little water.
- In the same pan, add a tbsp of oil and then fry the raisins until they plump up and start changing color. Drain and keep it in a bowl.
- In the same pan, add 1 tbsp more oil and fry the nuts that you are using. Drain and keep it in a separate bowl.
- One last time, in the same pan, add 1 more tbsp of oil and then fry the carrots with the sugar until they are cooked and appear glazy. Drain it in the same bowl as the raisins.
- In the same pan, we will be now making the vegetable gravy. For this add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil and fry the cauliflower and potato for 8-10 minutes.
- Then add the ground onion paste and the chick peas along with 1 cup of water. Now add the rest of the dry masala powders (turmeric powder, red chili powder and the garam masala) along with the salt needed for the gravy and let it cook until the vegetables are 3/4th done.
- Grease a large baking tray (9 x 13) and layer the bottom with the rice. Add the saffron water evenly on top of the rice and mix it gently.
- Now add the gravy from the vegetable mixture on to the rice and mix it gently to combine (pic 2 in the collage)
- Next layer the vegetables and the chickpeas mixture evenly over the rice.
- Top it off with the sweet carrots and raisins.
- Cover the dish with an aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 20 -30 minutes. This allows the flavors to combine and the rice and the vegetables to cook entirely.
- Garnish with the fried nuts and serve hot! When serving make sure that you dig all the way to the bottom of the pan and take the vegetables and rice evenly.