Kabuli Pulao – Afghan rice and carrot pilaf with lamb

I was inspired to cook this Afghan dish in the aftermath of the United States military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the resultant displacement of many Afghans from their homeland. Many communities, including mine, are coming together to support our Afghan brothers and sisters. My small contribution will be to teach two cooking classes showcasing Aghanistan’s rich cuisine to raise awareness and funds for refugees arriving in the US. More information about the classes below.

Kabuli Pulao is considered to be Afghanistan’s national dish, and traditionally was served only on special occasions. As with many popular dishes, there are regional varieties, and the dish is often personalized according to taste and the availability of specific ingredients. Lamb tends to be the primary protein, but it is also customary to cook it with beef or chicken.

Lamb shanks are first simmered with aromatic and warming spices to cook and tenderize the meat while developing a rich broth. The succulent lamb pieces are then combined with brightly-colored carrots and sweet raisins, layering them into light and fluffy basmati rice. The broth is then poured over the rice mixture as it slowly cooks to perfection. Sounds heavenly? It really is!

The classes

My first online class will be on September 23rd, 2021 from 6 to 7:30 pm, Pacific Standard Time at The Pantry, where I am a regular contributor and instructor. We will be preparing Chaar masalah (Afghan spice mixture), Samaroq (traditional Afghan mushroom curry), and Challaw (seasoned Afghan-style rice). This class will have a gentle pace, allowing time to share and cook in solidarity. All proceeds from this class will go to World Relief Seattle to support their work to help Afghan refugees resettling in the Pacific Northwest.

Here is the link for the class information and registration.

World Relief is a global humanitarian organization. Their work in the United States focuses on helping refugees and immigrants in vulnerable situations rebuild their lives in a new country by offering a wide range of services that include resettlement, employment, English language training, and immigration legal services.

I will also be teaching a second class on September 26th from 2 to 3:30 pm PST, sponsored by Seattle-Isfahan Sister City Advocacy, the nonprofit organization on whose board I serve. For this class, I am honored to be cooking with a local Afghan chef/restaurateur who has graciously accepted my invitation to cook Kabuli Pulao.

All funds raised via the registration fee and any additional donations will go directly to the Emergency Afghan Refugee Fund for WA State, a registered nonprofit that shares funds among several groups supporting Afghan refugees.

Here is the registration link


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Kabuli Pulao

Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef
Afghan rice and carrot pilaf with lamb
4.96 from 71 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Afghan
Servings 4



  • 4 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound lamb, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 cup water, more as needed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Carrots and raisins

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tablespoon cumin, seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom, ground
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  • 2 cups white basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour and rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt, for parboiling rice and will be rinsed out
  • 2 tablespoons oil


  • 1/4 cup slivered pistachios
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds



  • In a large, heavy pot, saute the onions in 2 tablespoons of oil for about 10 minutes over medium heat.
  • Add the minced garlic and saute for an additional minute. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  • Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the same pot and saute the lamb pieces on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
  • Return the onions to the pot, and add the remaining ingredients, except for the salt.
  • Cover and cook the lamb over low heat for 60 minutes.
  • Add the salt, cover, and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the lamb is tender.
  • Once cooked, using a slotted spoon, remove the lamb pieces and set them aside. Save the broth.


  • In a medium-sized frying pan, sauté the carrots over medium heat in the oil for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cumin seeds and ground cardamom and saute for an additional minute before adding the raisins and sugar. Stir gently, remove from the heat, and set aside.


  • Select a large heavy-bottomed pot and bring 8 cups of water and salt to a boil, covered. Once boiling, add the rinsed rice and bring it back to a boil on high heat uncovered for about 5-7 minutes, or until the rice has slightly softened.
  • Drain the rice in a colander, rinse with warm water, and set it aside.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the same heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Begin layering the partially cooked rice, the carrot mixture, and the lamb pieces until everything is evenly layered inside the pot.
  • Using a ladle, evenly pour 2 cups of lamb broth over the rice mixture.
  • Place the lid over the pot and cook the rice on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes before lowering it to medium-low and continue to cook for another 40 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Place the rice and carrot pilaf on a serving platter, garnish with slivered pistachios and almonds, and serve hot.


Lamb shank, leg or shoulder can be used for this dish.
Lamb can also be substituted with chicken or beef.  Adjust the cooking time accordingly. 
Keyword Afghan, carrots, lamb, raisin, rice
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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