Go Back

Kabuli/Qabili Palau - Afghanistan's National Dish

Humaira Ghilzai
Rice with chicken topped with carrots, almonds, and raisins.
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Central Asian Cuisine
Servings 8 people


  • sauté pan, large
  • Dutch oven
  • frying pan
  • colander


  • 3 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 10 chicken thighs & drumsticks
  • 4 cups diced onions
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil, divided
  • 5 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup black raisins
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • tsp. ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 12 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. browning sauce such as Kitchen Bouquet (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  • Immerse rice in a bowl of water and drain in a colander. Repeat this step 3 times.
  • Choose a sauté pan that is at least a couple inches deep and large enough to fit all the chicken. Pour ½ cup of the oil in the pan and sauté the onions over high heat, stirring quickly, until brown (5-10 minutes). Don't burn them. 
  • Add the chicken to the pan and sprinkle with 3 tsp. of the salt. Cook the chicken over medium-high heat for 6 minutes, turning from time to time so all sides turn golden brown.  The onion will start to caramelize and turn into a thick sauce.
  • If using the (optional) Kitchen Bouquet sauce, add it now, and let it simmer. *
  • While the chicken is cooking, in a large frying pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the carrots and cook until tender and a deep orange hue, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Keep a close eye on this to make sure you do not overcook them. Once the carrots are tender, add the raisins, almonds, and sugar to the carrots. Stir quickly over medium-high heat and keep stirring for about 3 minutes. The raisins will look plump; the carrots will take on a nice sweet flavor. Remove from heat and package the carrots into a sealed aluminum foil pouch about the size of a small paperback novel. 
  • Remove the chicken pieces from the broth and set aside.  Stir the cumin, cardamom, and black pepper into the broth. Continue to cook on low for 5 minutes to allow it to thicken.  
  • Meanwhile, measure 12 cups of water and the remaining 2 tsp. of salt into a large Dutch oven or ovenproof* pot with a fitted lid.  Bring it to a boil.  Add the rice to the water and boil until it is al dente (nearly cooked, though still slightly crunchy). This will take just a few minutes depending on the rice you use. You will have to taste it to check for doneness.  Do not overcook it. 
  • Immediately strain the rice through a colander.  Put the rice back into the cooking pot and add the sauce from the chicken.  Mix well.  Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the rice.  Set the aluminum package of carrots on top of the rice.  This will keep the carrots warm and deepen the flavors without mixing with the rice yet.
  • Bake the rice for 15 minutes in 500 degrees then drop the temperature down to 250 degrees. Cook for another 20 minutes. 
  • Arrange the chicken pieces on a large platter, cover with the rice. Sprinkle the carrots, raisins, and almonds on the rice. Serve with a simple salata.


* Any italicized words you see in the recipe instructions are those I've added to clarify that specific step. I don't want anything to get in the way of your enJoying Ms. Ghilzai's delicious recipe to the full!
Keyword small group, special occasions