Friday, June 27, 2008


[A robust tribal pilaf from Afghanistan]

Originally posted here:

One large onion, chopped.
One and a half pounds of goat, cut in 1 inch cubes.
Two carrots cut into matchstick size pieces.
1 cup dark seedless raisins.
2 Tbs. blanched almonds.
1/2 tsp. each: ground cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and cardamom.
Pinches of turmeric and dry ginger (optional).
1/8 tsp. saffron (firm pack), soaked in a two tablespoons of warm water.
2 cups long grain rice (Basmati) - soaked, rinsed, and drained.
1 Tbs. sugar.
Water or broth

1. Heat four Tbs. oil in a heavy pan and fry onion golden.
2. Add meat and brown.
3. Add two and a half cups water, 1/2 tsp. salt and the ground spices. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender. Take out meat and set aside. Leave cooking juices in pan, which remove from heat and set on backburner.
4. Heat four Tbs. oil in a saucepan. Add the carrots and cook until well gilded, remove from pan and set aside.
5. Add 1 cup dark seedless raisins plus couple of tablespoons of blanched almonds, and cook until the raisins swell up. Remove and set aside.
6. Bring the meat juice in the first pan to a boil and add the rice, 1 tbsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. salt, with sufficient water to bring the liquid one and a half inches above the rice. Cook till water is absorbed.
7. Mix the oil in which the carrots were cooked and the saffron-water into the cooked rice. Add the meat, cover and set in a 300 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.
8. Mound meat and rice in the center of a large platter. Sprinkle with carrots, raisins, and almonds.

Note I: Afghans tend to use oil, grease, or clarified butter for this dish much more liberally than in the recipe above. But then it sits heavy on the stomach.

Note II: Qabili = tribal, regional. From Arabic 'Qabila' = tribe. Hence 'qaba'il' for tribesman, and 'qabaili' for the North West Frontier Province.
'Cabal' may also come from this root, though dictionaries standardly give an acronym as the derivation.

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