Qabuli/Kabuli Pulao
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
The base of the dish is a good quality basmati rice, with the addition of slow cooked lamb, plump raisins/sultanas and toasted pistachio nuts or almonds or a combination of both nuts. The above are added to the rice, with softened, still crunchy glazed carrots and golden onions. The rice, meat, fruit and nuts are mixed, molded into a mound and turned out onto a round platter. The top of the Qabuli/Kabuli Pulao is decorated with the optional extras.
Recipe type: Mains
Cuisine: Afghan
Servings: 4-6
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 kg cooked and cubed lamb or beef or chicken
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cloves
  • Water according to the cooking instructions on your packet of rice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or shredded
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom powder
  • Optional Extras
  • ½ cups of raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
  • ½ cup of flaked and toasted almonds or whole pistachios nuts
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  1. In a sieve rinse your rice very well until the water runs clear.
  2. Heat ½ of the oil in a large pot with a lid and add the onions, stirring occasionally brown the onions.
  3. Add the garlic and spices (ground and whole) to the onions and allow the flavour to be released from the spices this only takes a few seconds. Remove the onions and spices from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining oil to the pot and add the carrot and sugar stir the carrots together and allow the sugar to coat and caramelise the onions. This takes a couple of minutes, remove the carrots from the pot and set aside.
  5. In the same pot cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet but using the absorption method rather than cook in plenty of water and drain method.
  6. Add the onions and spices to the rice as it is cooking.
  7. Place a cotton serviette or tea towel on top of the pot and under the lid to absorb the compensating water. Cook the rice for ¾ of the time stated on your packet and then switch off the pot, using a wooden spoon twist four holes to vent the steam from the rice and cover the pot with the lid and tea towel. Leave the rice to steam for 10 more minutes, checking half way to ensure the rice isn’t getting soggy and if it needs more cooking boast it over a medium heat for another 5 minutes and then allow it to steam for 5 more minutes.
  8. Once the rice is cooked through heat your left over meat.
  9. I used a dome shaped soup bowl to heat the meat in the microwave and then I made up individual Kabuli Pulao for each family member, the base was meat and rice for everyone but my son had it plain, my daughter with pistachio nuts and my husband with the works.
  10. I am not a raisin fan but I did try my husband's combination and the raisins when eaten with the rice, nuts and meat enhanced the favours and heightened the taste of the mild spices.
  11. This is usually made as a huge sharing dish that is moulded into a dome. I achieved the same traditional look by pressing down the portions of Kabuli Pulao and turning it out onto a plate and adding a few carrot sticks and nuts for garnish and a sprinkling of garam masala.
  13. Meats: Feel free to substitute stewing beef for the lamb or for a lighter dish, use cooked cubed chicken breast or thigh meat.
  14. Dried Fruit: Use golden raisins (sultanas), a mix of golden and black raisins or chopped dried apricots.
  15. Nuts: Use pistachios or a mix of pistachios and almonds.
Thinking ahead to a different party dish this could easily be turned into a deconstructed Qabuli/Kabuli Pulao for parties.
A huge bowl of beautifully spiced rice and if cooked in vegan friendly stock you can cater for vegans, vegetarians, coeliac and lactose intolerant friends and family with one dish.
In separate bowls you can have the shredded 12 hour slow cooker lamb recipes currants or sultanas, nuts (almonds and pistachios) and glazed carrots. People can construct their own Qabuli/Kabuli Pulao.
Recipe by Marissa's Recipes & Ideas at