Monday, March 18, 2013

Kabuli Pilau (attempt 1)

My mum and I came across this tutorial video on youtube for one of our favourite dishes. Instantly I was inspired to give it a go.

We all adore this rice dish which comes out of Afghanistan and it's a must whenever we're ordering from an Afghani restaurant.  Mum has always been fascinated with this dish, I guess when she lived in Pakistan she knew Afghanis who used to serve this speciality.

There seem to be several ways to make this pilau but one thing my mother always remembered was that sugar was used to achieve that distinct shade of colour that Kabuli Pilau is known for.

I recall doing a search a few years ago for cooking instructions on youtube with very few results, but today there seem to be so many tutorials!  We combed through them and my mother showed me this one specifically. I decided to half the recipe (we don't have enough people to enjoy 4 cups of rice! :))
Two cups of rice is the norm in our house, so it was easy to just half all the other ingredients.

I wrote it down in my notes which I'm sharing with you all below as well as my step by step photos, and you can also watch the original video for more detailed instructions. The video is made by a nice young lady who explains to us her mother's method for making this dish.

Soak rice 3-5 hours in advance.

I believe you're supposed to use Parboiled basmati rice which can be found in an Afghani grocer, or even a Pakistani one, it goes by the names of "Golden basmati" or "sila basmati"  It looks more beige than your typical white "tilda" style basmati rice.

Kabuli Pilau

1 cup carrots, julienned

1/3 cup red raisins

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/2 cup oil for frying (not olive oil! Use a plain vegetable oil that is suitable for frying)

Heat oil, add shredded carrots and cook until tender, add raisins and continue to cook.  Strain from the oil mixture and add to a foil pouch pocket and close, setting aside for later.

For the rice!

2 cups rice

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil
Add strained soaked rice cook until done half way through (like an al dante pasta?)   Add the strained rice into a large pot and set aside.

Mix ingredients blow in a saucepan, heat:

1/2 cup oil
1/3 cups sugar

takes 5-8 minutes on medium high until sugar is dark and melted, bubbles will begin to rise to the surface.  Remove immediately at this point and pour over strained rice in the pot.  Create a sort of "dome" with the rice in the pot (maybe this helps with steaming?)

******** WARNING: Be VERY careful with the sugar/oil mixture, it can be extremely dangerous.  Keep children and pets out of the kitchen and pour it over the rice away from the stove area as little drops can pop out and onto the stove/elements causing small grease/sugar flareups.

Have your kitchen sink empty and set the empty hot pot in the sink, allow it to cool there safely.  When its cooled you can add hot or warm water and let the extra remaining sugar residue dissolve before you safely wash it with soap.

Add foil (or parchment!) pouch with carrot/raisin mixture over the rice and to the side, just lay it in the pot.


1/3 cups water (for steaming)

Place pot of rice on high heat for less than 5 mins, reduce to medium cook for 20-25 mins.

** There is cumin added in the video recipe but I omitted it and it's not listed in my notes

Results, I'm not sure... it needs to be steamed on a much lower heat as mine nearly burned at the bottom.  I also feel like the rice was a bit chewy (maybe from being coated in the hot oil/sugar)  The ones at the restaurant are more "fluffy"

Perhaps since I halved the recipe I should have used a smaller pot, the big  pot has too much surface area over the heat.

I'm going to work on it with my mother a bit more and see if we can do an attempt 2.  For now if you have success yourself then let me know how it goes, I think I just haven't perfected the steaming process well (ran into the same issue with a Persian recipe two years ago)

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