Afghani Kabuli Lamb Pulao

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Afghani Kabuli Lamb Pulao is a national favorite dish in that country. It is rich and hearty, and is a meal in itself.

Afghani Kabuli Lamb Pulao

(Photo Attributed to Author Jost Wagner)

Afghani Kabuli Lamb Pulao Recipe-

  • 1 cup (200 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 medium to large yellow onion, peeled and rough chopped
  • 2 lb. (1,000 grams) lamb leg or shoulder meat, deboned, and chopped into small bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 quarts fresh water
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) white sugar
  • 2 tsp. garam masala seasoning (an absolute must have ingredient, for authentic results)
  • 1 tbsp.  ground cardamom
  • 2 lb. (1 kg) sella basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 4 hours or overnight
  • 10 oz. (300 grams) carrots, peeled and cut into batons
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) sultanas
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) mixed pistachios and slivered almonds, for garnish
  1. Plan ahead for your Afghani Kabuli Lamb Pulao meal. You will want to soak the basmati rice for at least 4 hours, and overnight is even better, before you start the main recipe preparations.
  2. Heat 3-4 tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and fry the onion for 6–8 minutes, or until fragrant and golden.
  3. Add in the garlic and the lamb, and 1 tbsp. of the salt and cook until lamb is well browned all over – about 8–10 minutes should do it.
  4. Now add the water, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 1-1/2 hours, skimming the surface now and then, until lamb is tender. Remove the lamb from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside for now. Reserve the stock.
  5. In a dry saucepan, heated up over medium flame, place half of the sugar. Cook, shaking the pan often, for 5–6 minutes or until sugar has caramelized. Now carefully add 1 cup of the reserved stock, 1 tsp. of garam masala, a pinch of cardamom, and the remaining salt. Bring the mixture to a rolling, vigorous boil, then remove from burner and set aside.
  6. Next, drain the soaked rice in a colander or large sieve, then place it in a deep, heavy duty saucepan or skillet. Fill with enough water to cover the rice, bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes, or until almost cooked. Drain the liquid off in a colander, and return the rice to the pan. Pour the caramelized sugar mixture over the rice, add a pinch of garam masala and cardamom; stir well, making sure the rice is evenly coated.
  7. In a large skillet over medium-high flame, heat 1 tbsp. of the oil. Add in the rest of the sugar and the carrots and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until glossy and slightly caramelized.
  8. Add and stir in the sultanas and cook for another 1 minute. Remove from the burner and stir in another pinch of cardamom. Set aside for now.
  9. In another skillet, heat the remaining oil until smoking hot. Pour the hot oil over the rice. Using the end of a large wooden spoon handle, punch holes all over rice surface – this will allow it to steam evenly. Top the rice with the spiced carrots, sultanas, and browned lamb. Cover and seal the pan with a tea towel or kitchen cloth, then place the lid on. Cook over high heat for 5 minutes, or until you hear a “ticking” noise. Turn the heat down to low and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes more.
  10. Remove the carrots, sultanas and lamb by scooping them from atop the rice, and place in bowls, separated. Stir and mix the rice well.
  11. To serve, cover the base of a large, attractive serving platter with a base of rice about 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick; ladle on the lamb, then mound the rest of the rice over the meat. Top the mounded rice with the spiced carrots and sultanas, then scatter the top all over liberally with the pistachios and almonds.
  12. Always serve your Afghani Kabuli Lamb Pulao with some Noni Afghani (Afghani flat bread).

Note: This recipe was taken from our Afghan Cuisine pages.

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9 thoughts on “Afghani Kabuli Lamb Pulao

  1. So glad I Googled and found this site and this recipe. I immigrated here to the US 5 years ago and have so longed for this dish. I’m not much of a cook myself, but my wife (she’s born and raised native American) is an excellent cook who loves to try ethnic recipes, so I got one for her, for sure, lol.

  2. Glad I found this site and this recipe. I’m and Afghan-American, and miss my deceased Grandmother’s kabuli lamb pulao. I also like trying other ethnic foods, so I will be back!

  3. Sounds like a very good feast of a meal. I would love trying those “ethnic” spices and seasonings, too – thanks for the recipe and links to get the special ingredients.

  4. I’ve never tried Afghani recipes before, but I love rice dishes of all kinds, and this looks wonderful! Even the way it is presented is pleasing!

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