Qabili Palau - Afghanistan
Afghanistan is often falsely labeled as part of the Middle East. This is incorrect. Instead, the best way to understand Afghanistan is to view it as an intersection of cultures: a crossroads of Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Over time these cultures–Persians, Mongols, Arabs and Russians–have imprinted their DNA into the fabric of Afghanistan, resulting in a complex fusion of flavors. In this complicated culinary landscape, one dish is familiar to all Afghans–Qabili Palau. This dish originates from the northern city of Kabul and was historically a celebratory dish among the upper class due to luxurious ingredients like raisins, nuts and sugar. In modern times the dish has become more common. Palau dishes represents Afghanistan's culinary mosaic, as it's similar to central Asian Uzbek and Uighur rice dishes, but also contains spices reminiscent of Iran and the Middle East.
Chef Rahmani's Qabili Palau Recipe
This particular recipe was demonstrated by Kareem Rahmani, an Afghani chef from Herat, Afghanistan. Mr. Rahmani migrated to America 15 years ago seeking political asylum, leaving behind a wife and six children. Currently, he lives in Flushing, Queens where he works as a cook in an Afghan restaurant. He conveyed to me that despite all the issues and conflicts in Afghanistan, Afghans remain united behind their pride for their cuisine, which he believes has the perfect combination of spice, flavor and health. Serves 6-8
- 4 pieces of chicken, thigh and drumsticks
- 4 cups basmati rice
- 1 large onion
- 2 large tomatoes
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
- 1 large carrot
- 1 cup of raisins
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon seven spice powder
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoon cumin
Remove the skin from chicken and trim excess fat. Place chicken in a large pot.
Wash rice thoroughly until liquid is no longer milky. Set aside and let rice soak until ready to use. Leave about 2 inches of water over rice.
Cut onion into thin 1 cm thick slices. Roughly chop tomatoes and garlic. Place onions, tomatoes and garlic on top of the chicken pieces. Add salt and ¾ cup of oil, mix well. Turn heat to high and bring to boil.
While waiting for the chicken to cook, slice carrots into long, thin strips (four inches long, ½ cm thick). Places carrots, raisins, sugar, ¼ cup of oil into a second pot and set to low heat. Cook mixture until carrots are half cooked and still firm, about 15 min. Add ½ cup tomato sauce into the chicken and mix well.
Reduce chicken liquid, about 20 minutes or until liquid is slightly syrupy and thickened. During this reduction process, add all spices except cumin. Once liquid is syrupy, place carrot mixture on top of chicken, avoid adding the sugar liquid. Pour rice and water on top of carrot mixture and chicken. Add another 3 cups of hot water, mix and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off heat, add cumin and place pot into a preheated 450 degree oven. Cook for 25 minutes. Serve on a large platter.