A taste of Afghanistan

2016-11-30 06:01
Afghan's national dish, Kabuli Paloa. Photo: SASHIKA PILLAY

Afghan's national dish, Kabuli Paloa. Photo: SASHIKA PILLAY

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AFGHANISTAN’S national dish, Kabuli Paloa, is a popular savoury rice dish with succulent meat, bold colours and a rich aroma.

There are many ways to put together Kabuli Paloa. Traditionally lamb or beef is used but in this recipe, chicken has been used as an alternative. There is also a vegetarian version with vegetables as a substitute for meat.

Kabuli Paloa does take quite some time to prepare, which is why the dish is usually reserved for special occasions such as weddings, Eid and family get-togethers.

Chicken Kabuli Paloa

For the marinade:

500g chicken, sliced into small pieces

250ml plain yoghurt

1 tspn ground pepper

1 tspn of ground cardamom

1.5 tspn salt

1 tbspn garlic paste


2 cups of basmati rice, washed and soaked

3 black cardamom pods

4 cloves

1 tspn cumin seeds

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 sliced tomatoes

1 heaped tspn of tomato paste

Salt to taste

1.5 tspn sugar

1 cup of dark raisins

1.5 cups of carrots, julienne


1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together and add in chicken. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or ideally overnight.

2. In a deep pan, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add in the cardamom, cloves, and cumin seeds. Add in the sliced onions. Sauté until the onions are brown. Stir in the sliced tomatoes and tomato paste.

3. Add in the chicken. Pour about 150ml of water into the pan, cover and cook over low heat. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Reserve broth.

4. Meanwhile, drain the soaked rice and place in a pot of boiling water with 2 tablespoons of salt. Place the lid on the pot and cook for about 8 minutes until the rice is soft but not fully cooked. Drain the rice again and return it back to the pot.

5. In a separate pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil. Once the oil heats up, add in the julienne carrots and sugar. Cook over low-medium heat until the carrots are soft or until caramelised, depending on personal preference.

6. Once the carrots are soft, remove the carrots from the pan and add in the raisins. After about a minute, the raisins should start to plump up. Remove the raisins from the heat.

7. Place the carrots and raisins onto a paper towel to drain excess oil.

8. Pour the broth over the rice and add in the chicken. Place the carrots and raisins on top of the rice. Cover and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Recipe: Afghan Firni

Savour the taste of a healthy, delicious dessert that doesn’t take hours to prepare.

Afghan Firni, a popular delicately rose-flavoured dessert with hints of cardamom only requires a few ingredients and can whipped up in under 15-minutes.

The light dessert pudding with crushed pistachios or silvered almonds for garnish is best enjoyed after a meal on a warm summer’s day.

The traditional Afghan Firni has cornflour, milk and sugar as the main ingredients.

However, to make this dessert a healthier option, almond milk has been used instead of dairy milk, and honey as a replacement for granulated sugar.

Dried fruit, blueberries and pomegranates are not only rich in antioxidants but goes well with this smooth-textured dessert.


750 ml almond milk

2.5 tbsps honey

3 tbsps cornflour

1 tbspn rosewater

1/2 tsp of ground cardamom

Pistachios or crushed almonds for garnish


1. Pour 750 ml of almond milk into a heavy saucepan, add in the cornflour, ground cardamom, and bring the mixture to a gentle boil while whisking frequently.

2. Once the mixture starts to thicken up, turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Turn off the heat, add in honey and rose water. Mix well.

4. Pour the Firni into two individual mugs or dessert bowls. Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes before refrigerating for about an hour.

5. Sprinkle toasted pistachios or crushed almonds before serving.

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