Kabeli Palau is a much loved party dish in Afghanistan. The highly seasoned rice dish is finished in the oven, giving the cook 45 minutes to prepare for the arrival of their guests (simply prepare garnish ahead of time). The intense flavor of garaham masala is balanced by sweet bursts of carrot and golden raisins.
Note: You may purchase 6 cups chicken broth and use leftover chicken pieces. This will save you several steps (and at least an hour) if you are in a hurry.
1 lb basmati rice, rinsed
1/4 cup ghee or butter
1 large onion, sliced thin
1/2 chicken, bone in or 3 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 cups water
1 Tbsp garaham masala
1/4 tsp saffron
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks or shredded
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup hot water
1. In a large pot, bring 6 cups water to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, rinse rice until water runs clear. Add rice to boiling water, reduce heat to low and simmer for 6 minutes. Drain rice and discard cooking water.
3. Add six cups water to a large pot. Add chicken. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes or until chicken is falling off the bone.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook onions in ghee until deep golden brown in color. This could take 30 minutes. Stir often. Be careful not to let pan dry out and burn the onions.
4. In a food processor, combine onion, tomato paste, and a 1/2 cup chicken broth. This will cook more on the stove and in the oven, so you can take the broth at any point from the simmering pot of chicken.
5. In a very large casserole (I used my new, oven safe wok), combine rice and onion mixture. Add salt, garlic, garaham masala, and saffron.
6. Defat chicken broth and strain into to rice mixture.
7. Preheat oven to 350F. Pick through chicken and add the pieces to the rice mixture. Stir to combine.
8. Cook uncovered in the oven until rice is tender (taste test please), about 45 minutes, adding up to a cup of water towards the end if it looks too dry. Some drying around the edges is normal.
9. Meanwhile, saute carrots in ghee until golden brown and soft. Add raisins, almonds, saffron, and water. Cook until water is reduced and raisins have plumped.
10. Add carrot garnish to the top of the rice mixture when done cooking. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Afghanistan, Enchantment of the World, by Terri Willis.
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