Pages Menu

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

Categories Menu

Posted by on Oct 9, 2013 in International | 1 comment

Qabili Pilau

Qabili Pilau

What conjures up your mind with “Afghanistan” ?

I often think of green eyed Afghan girl, made famous by Steve McCurry’s shot. Something about her eyes are so piercing that it has stuck with me ever since i saw the image for the first time. Behind her eyes lies the reality of war torn country,poverty,society in disarray to name  the few. What is even more sad is, people have not heard the gospel of Christ.

Sometimes, I think, how do we pray for them? Life seems so overwhelming there.

We are using the opeartion world as a guide to aid in our prayer for healing, stabiity, structure and most importantly for the people of Afghanistan to come to Christ.


As i was researching the food of Afghanistan,i came across “Qabili Pilau’ or “Kabuli pulao”.Many variations are there in the name.It is a national dish of Afghanistan.

This is what i have learnt about this dish

  • It is very mildly spiced rice dish unlike Indian biriyani. You can add meat of your choice.Lamb or mutton being popular choice.
  • Type of rice that you use defines the dish.Afghan use “Sella” rice.One of those time where i will stick with brand.I use “Tilda”/”Kohinoor” brand of basmati rice,I get from India store.Not all long grain basmati rice are same.It makes huge difference in final dish.
  • Carrots and dark resins are essential ingredients. So are silvered almonds, pistachios or cashews for garnishes.
  • Color of the dish is decided by how brown the onions are  and spice mix.Usually brownish.I used ‘garam masala’ and it gave yellowish hue instead of brownish.I also lacked the patience to brown the onion and grind it.Some times  tomato paste is used.I didn’t see it being commonly used across the recipes ,so i left.Varies by every individual family.
  • Traditional dish uses tons of oil.I curtailed a lot in comparison.


Corner market(Photo: Jim C.)

Corner market(Photo: Jim C.)

Four basic steps 

  1. Prepare the rice  in lot of water,3-4 times then the amount of rice.Just like pasta. It should be half cooked.Not crunchy-uncooked, not mushy soft. Half cooked.It needs to have a bite to it. {It means,you should not be talking to your sister while cooking this  or chasing a dog or helping your daughter with homework .None of these,i am just saying.}You need to stand and keep checking the rice.10-12 mins,depending on the rice.I got B- at this step.
  2. Cook the meat separately with onion,spice mix, with enough thick gravy to mix it with rice.’Garam masala’ gave it yellow color.
  3. Matchsticks carrots and resins are essential in this dish.Traditionally it is softened in lots of oil.Word of advice:Buy the matchstick carrots, if you can. I had forgotten about it.Lets just say,there are far more exciting thing that I would do then cutting matchstick carrots. Picture proves it..
  4. Cook it all together in the end.


Most important things to keep in mind

Do NOT overcook the rice. 

Now the result 

My rice was more then half cooked in the first step,so when i mixed it up with gravy,it was overcooked.My hand cut matchsticks carrots were fat .Garam masala and lack of deep browning of onion,gave it yellowish hue then brownish.Despite of it,our family enjoyed the double serving the dish.Next time,i would be more patient with my time.You can not make this dish in hurry while task switching among other things.

Qabili pilau

Qabili pilau


We went over the map.My daughter was excited to find out about this country next to India.We discussed the challenges Afghanistan is facing,taking help from Operation world,couple of days before and after the dinner and also at the table briefly,little by little..My daughter lead us in prayer before we enjoyed the meal 🙂

Original recipe from  Afghan net

Qabili Pulao


    Chicken prep
  1. 5-6 Chicken Thighs (boneless)
  2. 5 chicken drumsticks
  3. 3 medium sized onion chopped
  4. 1 tablespoon garam masala
  5. 4-5 tablespoon oil
  6. salt
  7. Water/Chicken broth
  8. Rice
  9. 2-1/2 cups long grain Basmati rice
  10. 10 cups water
  11. Garnishes
  12. 1-1/2 cup matchsticks carrots
  13. 1 cup resins
  14. 1 cup silvered almonds
  15. 1/2 cup pistachios(unsalted)
  16. To pour
  17. 3 tablespoon of hot ghee


  1. In a pot,add oil.
  2. Once heated,add onion.Brown the onion well.
  3. Add chicken pieces to it it.
  4. Add salt,garam masala
  5. Stir it well and let it cook.
  6. Add water/broth,enough to submerge the chicken.
  7. Cook it until chicken is done and enough gravy is left to coat the rice.
  8. Take the chicken pieces out and save the gravy.
  9. Rice
  10. Rinse the rice couple of times until it is clear.
  11. In a big pot,add rice and water.
  12. Cook it half the way.Keep checking.Don't cook it all the way.
  13. Drain the rice in colander.
  14. Garnishes
  15. In a pot or pan,add oil.
  16. Cook the carrots.Add resins to it.
  17. Make a pouch of carrots and resins in aluminum foil.
  18. In a big enough pot,add the half cooked rice.Pour the gravy,left from cooking the chicken.
  19. Gravy should coat the rice well enough.
  20. Add chicken pieces on the top.Make a hole with the back of spatula for steam to escape.
  21. Warm 3 tablespoon of ghee.
  22. Pour the hot ghee all over the rice and chicken.
  23. Add the pouched carrots and resins on the top.
  24. Cover the dish with cotton kitchen towel.
  25. Put the lid on the top of it.
  26. Let it steam for 15-20 mins at low.
  27. Open the carrots-resins pouch and mix it up with rice and chicken
  28. Add almonds and pistachios.
  29. Stir it well.
  30. Enjoy.

1 Comment


  1. Afghanistan Meal Review | Food,Fork,Plate & Handful of Joy - […] Qabili Pilau […]
  2. Chicken Biriyani | Food,Fork,Plate & Handful of Joy - […] the dough after ward was painful. So I did what I have noticed Afghans do with their “Qabili Pilau ”.I…

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *