Qabili Palau | Kabuli Palaw | Afghanistan

Kabuli palaw or Qabili Palau consists of steamed rice cooked in a flavour-packed meat broth and topped with meat, fried almonds and caramelized carrots and raisins. 

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Qabili Palau | Kabuli Palaw

As part of the GlobeCookingMad series, I am sharing my humble attempt at the Central Asian country, Afghanistan's national dish, Qabili Palau. Updated the recipe and images in September 2020.

Afghanistan, I think most of us are aware of this country mostly for the wrong reasons. However, let us focus on their beautiful cuisine, shall we? Afghan cuisine is largely influenced by Persian, Indian and Mediterranean cultures. I was so surprised that they too have naans, chapatis, all types of pulao or palaw as they say. They also have bolanis that are very much like our stuffed parathas. Their national dish is Kabuli Palau and it is known in different names like Kabuli, Kabul, Qabul, Qabili Palaw.


2016 version where the soaked rice was cooked directly in the pot of broth. 

I was curious why it is named both Kabuli and Qabili? Humaira Ghilzai shares the reason in her article which is so interesting!

Kabuli Palau was initially consumed by the upper-class Kabul families as they could afford the ingredients. Over time as the people of Afghanistan became wealthier, this dish became more common. So, the name Qabili Palau was coined. The Dari word Qabil - means well accomplished, indicating that only a skilled chef can truly balance the various flavours of this dish. Qabil is also Urdu and Hindi for "capable", and that is the reason I chose to call this Qabili Palau first. 

I also read that in some regions of Pakistan they make Qabili Palau but the recipe has garam masala along with the rest of the ingredients and is prepared the same way. 

Ingredients for Qabili Palau

  • cooking oil
  • almonds
  • carrots
  • raisins
  • sugar
  • onions
  • mutton/lamb/chicken with bone
  • cumin powder
  • cardamom powder
  • black pepper powder
  • basmati rice
  • green cardamom
  • cloves
  • cinnamon stick
  • water
  • Salt to taste

How to prepare Qabili Palau?

2020 updates: I made two significant changes that gave a better result. The original version required caramelized sugar to be added to the broth that makes the rice brown. I skipped that to reduce calories and sweetness. Last time, I had cooked the rice in the broth directly, but this time I par-boiled the rice before adding the broth similar to my Kacchi biryani

Qabili Palau | Kabuli Palaw

Qabili Palau | Kabuli Palaw

Qabili Palau | Kabuli Palaw

One of my aim in cooking is always to reduce dishes as I don't have help nor a dishwasher but you may cook the elements simultaneously to save time or do like me in just two pots with the same flavour! 

I started in my pressure cooker with oil:
  1. Fried the almonds- kept aside
  2. Fried the carrots and then the raisins - kept aside
  3. Browned the onions and meat along with spices 
  4. Pressure-cooked the meat with water 
  5. Removed the meat 
In another Pot:
  1. Par-boiled the rice to al dente.
  2. Added the broth to the rice and topped with meat and carrot stuff
  3. Covered and cooked on low until rice is done
  4. Served warm with yoghurt and salad
I have to warn you, you will end up having a delightful afternoon siesta after enjoying a plate of Qabili Palau. We did. Thank God it was a weekend! 

Qabili Palau | Kabuli Palaw

Qabili Palau Recipe | Kabuli Palaw Recipe


For Almonds, Carrots and Raisins Toppings:
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of cooking oil 
  • 1/4 cup almonds, blanched, peeled and sliced 
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into thin batons
  • 1/3 cup raisins, black preferred
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
For Broth
  • more cooking oil if required 
  • 2 medium onions, diced finely 
  • 500-550gms mutton/lamb with bone
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder 
  • 3/4 teaspoon cardamom powder 
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder 
  • 1 cup of water
  • Salt to taste 
To Par-boil the Rice:
  • 1 and 1/4 cup basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for 10 mins
  • 5 cups of water 
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 1"cinnamon stick
  • Salt to taste (add more than usual while boiling)
For Assembling Qabili Palau:
  • all of the par-boiled rice
  • 1/2 cup of the prepared broth 
  • cooked meat
  • prepared carrot and raisins 


Prepare the Almonds, Carrots and Raisins: 
  1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker or pot in which you would want to cook the meat. 
  2. Fry the sliced almonds until golden brown and remove using a slotted spoon and keep them aside. 
  3. Add the carrot batons and sauté until wilted and darkens in colour. Stir in the raisins and saute until they are all plumped up. You may sprinkle sugar to caramelize them. Remove the carrot and raisins with the slotted spoon and keep them aside. 
Prepare the Meat Broth:
  1. Add more cooking oil if required and fry the onions until almost browned.
  2. Add the meat pieces and sear them until browned.
  3. Add the spices and salt and cook until all the moisture is released and almost dried.
  4. Add a cup of water and pressure cook for 15 to 20 mins on low to medium flame or until the meat is cooked through.
  5. Use a slotted spoon and remove the cooked meat pieces and keep them aside.
  6. Keep the broth with all the onions aside for later use. 
For the Rice: 
  1. Take the deep pot in which you plan to assemble the rice and add a lot of water, whole spices and salt.
  2. Keep the flame on high and bring the water to a full boil.
  3. Add the drained rice carefully and continue on high flame to bring back the water to a full boil.
  4. Stir and boil until the rice is half cooked or doubled in size. (approx 2 to 3 mins)
  5. Drain the rice into a colander and put the rice back into the pot. 
  6. Reduce the flame to the lowest and slide a flat pan (heat diffuser) under the pot.
  7. Carefully fold in the meat broth using a rubber spatula so that all of the rice is coated.
  8. Place the meat pieces on one side and add the carrot raisins on another side.
  9. Cover the pot with foil or a clean cloth and then cover with the pot lid.
  10. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes.
How to Serve Qabili Palau:
  1. Open the pot and remove the meat pieces and the carrot raisins mix and keep them aside separately.
  2. Add the rice to a serving plate and top with the meat and more rice.
  3. Garnish with the prepared carrots and raisins and fried almonds.
  4. Serve Qabili Palau with yoghurt and salad.
Qabili Palau | Kabuli Palaw

Where is Afghanistan?

Next on my list is Albania

End the meal with a delicious Dried Fig and Rice Pudding!


I would love to know if you tried this recipe. You may leave a comment below or follow me on Instagram and mention @butfirstchaai or tag #butfirstchaiblog so that I can see your creations! Thank you!