Afghani pulao

Afghani Pulao/Kabuli Pulao is the national dish of Afghanistan. It is also a very popular pulao dish in Pakistan, south east Asia and Middle East. Afghani pulao tastes different from other pulao. It tastes sweet, less spicy, and crunchy with nuts and has a very good aroma and flavour. Although there are many variants of pulao, Afghani version is known to be more rich in calories and also satisfying. Combination of rice, lamb, carrots and raisins makes it a perfect meal for every occasion.

Cooked with Parboiled Basmati Rice (pakki basmati or saila chawal), it is a very delicious and aromatic dish.

Afghani pulao is cooked differently by everyone as per their taste. In Afghani pulao the ingredients are any meat (lamb, beef, chicken), rice, carrot, raisins, caramel (sugar), nuts(optional), stock and spices. In Afghani pulao, the rice has to be dark in colour when cooked. I have used orange peel in my recipes as I have found this in a few restaurants in addition to carrots. It is up to you if you want to use as some don’t like the bitterness of orange peel. The sweetness of the caramel, carrot and crunchiness from the nuts and flavour from the meat and spices - all of which when blended with the rice, gives a wonderful taste to the Afghani pulao.



  1. Oil – 1/2 cup
  2. Onion (medium) – 2
  3. Green cardamom - 5
  4. Bay leaves – 2 (if big) or 4 (if small)
  5. Black pepper corns (optional) – 1/2 tsp
  6. Cinnamon stick (2 inch pieces) – 3
  7. Ginger and garlic paste – 1 1/2 tbsp
  8. Lamb – 450 gms
  9. Lamb Stock – 3 cups
  10. Water – 2 cups
  11. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  12. Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
  13. Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
  14. Salt - as per taste
  15. Rice

  16. Rice – 500 gms
  17. Water - 7 cups
  18. Salt - as per taste
  19. Cardamom powder – 2 pinches
  20. Garnishing

  21. Oil – 1/4 cup
  22. Onion (big) – 1
  23. Sugar – 3 tbsp
  24. Water – 1/3 cup
  25. Ghee – 1/4 cup
  26. Carrot (grated) – 3
  27. Orange peel (medium, julienne cut) – 2
  28. Almonds – 15
  29. Pistachios – 2 tbsp
  30. Raisins – 1/3 cup
  31. Cardamom powder (optional) – a pinch
  32. Raitha (yoghurt mixture)

  33. Onion (chopped) – 1
  34. Green chilli (chopped) – 1
  35. Salt - as per taste
  36. Coriander leaves (chopped) – 2 tbsp
  37. Tomato (chopped) – 1


  1. Soak the almonds in hot water for 30min and peel its skin, you can slice or add as a whole to the dish.
  2. Grate the carrot and cut the orange in julienne cut, keep it ready.
  3. Stock

  4. Lamb bones and shanks(including marrow bones) 700gms, ginger 20gms, garlic cloves – 4, onion 200gms, pepper seeds 11/2tsp, water 7cups to 8cup 200ml each, boil 5min then simmer for 1hr. I always freeze my remaining stock.
  5. Frying onions and nuts for garnishing

  6. Heat enough oil, add onions and fry till crispy and golden colour come on it, keep it aside.
  7. Preheat the pan with ghee, when hot add carrot and cook for few minutes (4 to 5min), but still it has to be caramel.
  8. In the same ghee add the nuts, raisins, orange peel and cook till it is lightly crispy and keep it aside. Fry until raisins swell up. You can fry separately in ghee also.
  9. Add sugar in the remaining fried onion oil, let it melt a, boil for 2min on simmer, then add water, mix well, add all the fried carrot, orange peel and nuts, cook in simmer till all the ingredients get blended well with the caramel, switch off.
  10. If you want can boil sugar and water, as caramel and cook the orange peel, to remove its bitterness and roast carrot and nuts in ghee and pour on the rice separately.
  11. For the sauce/curry

  12. I took lamb meat with bones (one big shank meat bone, cut into 2pieces), which is not a must, can use ordinary bones meat. I always prepare with bones, not necessarily with a shank bone, I have used it as I had.
  13. Preheat the big vessel, add oil/ghee, when hot add onion and all whole spices, cook till onion is transparent and golden colour, add ginger and garlic paste sauté for 30sec.
  14. Add turmeric, cumin, garam masala powder, stir for 30sec on medium flame, add immediately meat pieces and roast well in the oil for 2 to 3min, without burning spices.
  15. Add stock 3cups of stock and remaining water to cook the meat well. The meat has to be cooked well and the sauce has to get thicken and it starts leaving oil on the sauce. The sauce should be enough to coat the pulao or 1cup to 3/4th cup.
  16. Or

  17. You can cook the meat in a pressure cooker, it gets cooked fast, but add water as required, in the pressure cooker add 3 cups of stock or 3cups water.
  18. Coking the rice

  19. Boil water with salt, add rice, add cardamom powder and cook till it is just cooked 90%, but still raw, drain the remaining water. Keep it aside.
  20. Layering and garnishing

  21. First grease another pan or you can use the same pan in which curry is cooked, just remove the curry and keep it aside.
  22. First add the half rice, then add the meat and its gravy spread it evenly, add rice on top.
  23. Spread the cooked carrot, orange peel, nuts and raisins spread evenly, add all the caramel left in the sauce on the top of the rice and also fried onion.
  24. Can sprinkle a pinch of cardamom powder and cumin powder on top.
  25. Close it with aluminium foil and close the lid, so that steam does not escape.
  26. Cook on lower flame, simmer it for 15 to 20min and switch it off.
  27. Serve it with raitha (yoghurt and onion mixture).
  28. In restaurants or in Afghanistan, the meat should be hidden inside the rice.
  29. Raitha (yoghurt mixture)

  30. Mix all the ingredients, then add the yoghurt and mix well, keep it aside.


  1. Cook the rice 90% just cooked, press the rice in your thumb, it will be easily known to you, and still how it has to be cooked.
  2. Peel the orange from the peeler and cut it like julienne cut. You can fry it in ghee and then cook in sugar syrup or directly boil in the sugar syrup.
  3. You can add 2 tomatoes in the lamb curry, while cooking.
  4. You can cook the nuts, raisins, carrots in ghee (clarified butter) separately and boil orange peel in the sugar syrup.
  5. You can add sugar to melt in oil, to give the rice the brownish colour, but you can add sugar in ghee or oil or just boil in water to avoid more oil or ghee.
  6. I have added the water as I had just 3cups of stock and my meat was not cooked , so I added water. You can add only stock and cook the curry.