ISO recipe for Qabuli polow (Afghan rice)
I fell in love with the Qabuli pilaf/polow (spelling?) rice dish served at the Afghan pizza/kebab joint next door. This is the fried Basmati rice served with carrots in thin ribbons, raisins and almonds, plus stewed beef or goat.
I'm looking for the recipe of the Qabuli rice only, and would love to find "authentic" recipes or recipes handed down from generations.... but won't say no to modern alternatives! ;-)
Whenever I had it at afghan friends' the rice was cooked with a carmalized sugar mixture, it was never sweet, the purpose of the sugar was to add that lovely colour and deep almost burnt flavour. yum!!
Use parboiled basmati, it's what most afghani stores sell. Good stuff, can soak for up to 4 hours and it won't be mushy, keeps it's shape and is very good.
Qabli pullao is essentially a stock pullao. It is not fried rice. There are regional versions, but the one typically found in Afghan restos with the carrots and sultanas is as such:
You just boil mutton (say one and a half lbs, bone in, cut in 2 inch chunks) in enough water to cover, skim the scum, then add in 2 tsps ground garam masala (chaarmasala*) or alternatively use whole garam masalas (say 1 tsp cumin, 10 peppercorns, 7 cloves, 2 bay leafs, 7 cardamom pods, 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick). You can add in an onion, some garlic and ginger, too. You allow this to come to a boil again, then cover and simmer on low heat for about 1.5 hours so that the goat is really tender. In the meanwhile, fry some onion (About 1 large or 2 small), They should be fried crispy and reddish brown. Just about at the time the stock is done, wash 2.5 cups basmati rice and set to soak for about 10 minutes. In the meanwhile, salt the stock, then strain the stock. Pick out the meat and discard any other seasonings you may have added like onion or whole masalas. You will need 5 cups of stock for your 2.5 cups of dry rice,
Have a large pot in which you will cook the whole pilao, add in a bit of oil and brown the meat pieces gently. Add in the fried onion (you can reserve some fried onion for garnish, too) then add in the stock. When this boils, add in the rice and a little bit of extra salt. Close the lid, put on lowest heat setting, and cook for 18 minutes.
While the rice is cooking. Take 1/2 cup sultanas (yellow raisins) and put in a microwaveable cup in enough water to cover and nuke on high for about 30 seconds. Drain these and set aside.
Take 1 large carrot and cut it into matchstick slivers.
Heat a tiny bit of oil and fry these for a moment until you see that the carrots are partially cooked and the raisins look very plump and shiny.
When the rice is done, lift the lid once to allow steam to escape, then turn off the flame, recover the pot, Add in the raisins and sultanas (keep a few aside for garnish) and allow the rice to rest for an additional 10 minutes before disturbing the pot (the steaming will also finish off the carrot slivers' cooking)
Transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with clarified butter (about 1 tsp), and add on your garnishes if you like.
Other version of this include doing the pullao in the oven rather than stovetop. You can also add fried almond slivers at the end as a garnish.
*chaar masala is the Afghan version of South Asian garam masala, you can just use any type of garam masala, Shan Zafrani Garam Masala is a good brand if you don't have one already.