Afghanistan is known for it’s breath-taking mountain ranges and rich cultural heritage but it’s also known for its national dish Kabuli Palau.

Kabuli Palau (Qabili Palau)is the treasured national dish of Afghanistan. To explain it simply, the dish consists of slow-cooked meat accompanied by a perfectly-balanced mixture of rice, lentils, raisins, carrots, cardamom and nuts.

Despite the newer luxuries of store-bought slivered nuts and pre-prepped lentils, the dish remains a time-consuming labour of love. It is a much-adored dish in Afghanistan, and it has even been said that an Afghan woman’s marriage prospects hinges on her ability to make Palau! 

Kabuli Palau was originally a dish eaten by the upper-class families of Kabul who could afford to include “wealthier” ingredients like nuts in their rice. 

But as people in Afghanistan became wealthier over time this meal became more common, so many began calling the dish by a new name; Qabili Palau. The Dari word Qabil – means well accomplished, suggesting that only a skilled chef can truly balance the various flavours of this dish. This dish is now seen as the centrepiece of a spread, with the dish often being placed in the middle of the banquet. 

Afghan food is quite hard to categorise; it doesn’t align fully with Middle Eastern, Persian, or even Central Asian food. It borders both India and China, and yet their food is nothing alike! While it does take much inspiration from these cuisines, Afghan food is its own personal blend of these influences. 

Instead of copying, Afghan Food has adopted the best qualities of different nations’ foods to create their own dishes, allowing for Afghan dishes such as Kabuli Palau to be perfectly spiced and balanced.

Some notable influences which shape Afghan food are Indian spices, Persian herbs and Mongolian dumplings. This fusion creates a dish which is both delicious and pretty affordable- no complaints from me!

Kabuli Palau is typically cooked with lamb, but can be made vegetarian by omitting the meat! If you try it, make sure to soak the rice for at least an hour beforehand to make it plump- this is a key tip to follow when making Kabuli Palau.

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