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5 from 3 votes

Kabuli Pulao (Spiced Lamb Pilaf)

Kabuli Pulao, or Spiced Lamb Pilaf, is a common dish in Afghanistan. It is often made to celebrate big occasions such as weddings. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine Afghan
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 453kcal


  • Large Saucepan


  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil (or 2 oz)
  • 2 sweet, yellow onions chopped
  • 1 lb 2 oz boneless lamb, cut into 2 cm cubes (or 500 grams)
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp salt
  • cup slivered almonds, not roasted or salted (or 40 grams or 1 ½ oz)
  • 1 ½ cup carrots cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup seedless raisins (4 oz or 125 g)
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 cups basmati rice (or 14 oz or 400g)


  • Heat 2 tbps ghee or olive oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan. 
  • Add 2 chopped yellow onions and fry over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until translucent and golden brown. Remove and set aside. 
  • Add 1 lb 2 oz cubed boneless lamb to the pan with the remaining ghee and fry over high heat until browned, stirring often. Sprinkle with spices (½ tsp garam masala, ¼ tsp ground cardamom, ¼ tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper) and 1 tsp of salt
  • Stir over heat for 1 minute, add 1 ½ cups water, then return onion to the pan. Cover and simmer for one hour. 
  • While the meat is cooking, add ¼ cup ghee to a frying pan and lightly brown/toast ⅓ cup sliced almonds. Remove from pan, leaving ghee behind. 
  • Add 1 ½ cups carrots to the frying pan and fry over medium heat until lightly colored, stirring often. 
  • Add 1 cup raisins and continue to fry, stirring until raisins become plump. Sprinkle carrot and raisin mixture with 2 tsp granulated sugar and set aside. 
  • Wash and strain rice. Bring 6 cups water(1.5 litres, 51 oz) to a boil with 1 tbsp salt. Add rice, return to a boil, and boil for 6 minutes. Strain. 
  • Remove the cooked lamb and ½ cup (4 fl oz. or 125 ml) of liquid. Stir the rice and the remaining 1 tsp salt into the juices still remaining in the pan. 
  • Make 3 or 4 holes in the rice with the end of a wooden spoon. Place lamb mixture over half of rice and carrots/raisin mixture over the other half of rice. Pour reserved meat juices over the top. 
  • Place two paper towels over pan and cover tightly with a lid. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 25 minutes more. Remove from heat and keep covered for 5 minutes. 
  • Pile the lamb into the center of a platter and top with carrots and raisin mixture. Fluff up rice grains with a fork and mound the rice around the meat in the middle. Sprinkle with reserved almonds and serve. 


Recipe taken from The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook by Tess Mallos
  • Lamb: Lamb can be tough to find. Try calling ahead to your local middle eastern store to see if they carry it. I also put in a call to my local butcher, and they were able to debone a lamb leg for me and turn it into cubed pieces, which worked perfectly. 
  • Garam Masala: You can buy this spice blend at the store in your spice aisle or make it at home
  • ​​Carrots: I cheat and buy a back of matchstick-cut carrots. You can cut them by hand if you prefer, but using the store bought bag cuts SO much time off of the recipe.
  • Raisins: I would recommend normal-sized raisins as opposed to jumbo.
  • I made this recipe according to the recipe instructions, but sometimes I wish that it had more meat. Feel free to use another pound of meat for a higher meat to rice ratio. 
  • You don’t have to rinse your rice before cooking, but I’d recommend it.
  • To serve, you typically pile the meat into the center of the mound of rice. You can even cover it up with another layer of rice on top so that you can’t see it from the serving platter before serving. 
  • Serve this with Boolawnee as an appetizer and Halwau-E Aurd-E Sujee for dessert.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 453kcal | Carbohydrates: 82g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 1205mg | Potassium: 548mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 5348IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 2mg