Kabuli Pilau (Qabili Pilau)

A delicious plate of Kabuli Pilau



  • 100g Pistachio nuts
  • 100g almonds
  • 2 large carrots, julienned
  • 250g sultanas
  • Olive Oil


  • 7 cups (1400g) Basmati Rice
  • Salt
  • 4-5 large onions diced
  • 2 tbsp masala spice mix
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds


  • 1 .5 kilos lamb, leg meat cut into cubes 
  • 1 cup fried onions (buy from any Asian supplier)
  • 2-3 Cardamom pods, cracked
  • 2 tsp masala spice mix
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 glass water
  • Oil


  1. To prepare topping, soak pistachio nuts in water for 3-4  hours, remove skin and place back in cold water to keep colour. 
  2. Soak the almonds in water and remove skins.
  3. Julienne the carrots and fry in approx 1 cm of oil for approx 2-3 mins.  When the moisture has been drawn out of the carrots and they are soft but not brown, remove with a slotted spoon and drain.  Set aside.
  4. Fry sultanas in the same oil for about 1 minute.  The sultanas will expand, remove immediately and set aside with carrot. 


  1. Add oil to pressure cooker and fry the onion until soft. 
  2. Add the meat, salt and pepper and brown.  Then add cracked cardamom, masala spice mix, 1 small glass of water and cook in pressure cooker for 20-25 minutes. (If cooking in large saucepan, simmer until meat is tender)
  3. Drain the liquid from meat and set aside. Transfer meat into a separate bowl.


  1. Pour rice into a large mixing bowl and cover in water.
  2. Wash rice and soak for 4-5 hours.
  3. Bring 2- 2½ litres water (or enough water to cover the rice), to the boil in a large pot, add rice and salt, cover and cook for 6-7 minutes or until the rice is cooked.  (Don’t overcook)  Drain the water.
  4. Off the heat, put rice back in pot and add the reserved liquid from the meat.
  5. Mix through.  Add 2 tsp masala spice mix and 1 tsp cumin seeds and stir.  Rubbing the cumin seeds between the palms of your hands over the pot helps release some of the flavour.
  6. Use the end of the mixing spoon to poke holes in the rice (this allows steam to escape) and drizzle with a little olive oil

Place the meat around the perimeter of the pot on top pf the rice.

Wrap the saucepan lid with 2-3 tea towels to absorb the steam and place the lid back on top.

Cook on maximum heat for 2 – 3 minutes until steam can be seen coming out from pot, approx 5 mins.  Reduce to medium and cook for 30 mins on low heat.

Leave 5 minutes then mix rice thoroughly in pot to mix oil and juice through the rice before serving.

Pile half the rice onto a large platter, then place some of the meat.  Cover the meat with the remaining rice and garnish with the carrots, sultanas, pistachios and almonds.  Finally sprinkle with a spoonful of crushed cardamom over the top.

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