Most of my childhood was spent eating rice dishes consisting of aromatic Indian spices – particularly biryani. If there is one thing I can’t live without, it’s chicken biryani. If you have ever had it, you know what I mean by full of flavour and spice – like a ka-pow to your taste buds. When I moved to Toronto, my family and friends encouraged me to try the famous Bamiyan Kabob restaurant, which focused on Afghani foods. This was my first time trying Afghan food, but I became instantly hooked. Although the rice is flavourful, it does not contain the same spice level as the biryani I am used to. My favourite combination is their chapli kabobs with the rice and salata (salad) they serve on the side. Perhaps what I loved most about the Afghani chapli was it’s similarity in taste to the Pakistani chapli kabobs I grew up eating. After eating at this restaurant for a number of years, I decided to give this recipe a try at home. The resulting recipe is something I developed as a quick fix to fulfill that Bamiyan craving. Try it out and let me know what you think!
Afghani kabuli pulao (rice pilaf) and chapli kabab
Juicy beef burger patties with lamb infused rice pilaf - garnished with caramelized carrots and raisins, with a side of refreshing salad. Afghan style.
Soak rice in water for 1 hour or until water level decreases and rice turns a whiter shade. Next, in a large pot add the 2 and 1/2 cups water and boil over medium heat, stir in salt then allow it to cook until slightly soft. Strain the rice then set aside.
In a separate pan, heat cooking oil over medium high heat and sautee onions until golden. Add the meat and let it cook for 2 minutes, then add crushed garlic and salt and stir until tender - about 8 minutes. Set aside and reserve stock.
In a pan, add the sugar, garam masala, and cardamom to half of the stock. Bring to a boil and stir until blended. Pour 3/4 of the mixture on to rice and stir gently - avoid breaking the rice. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and place rice in oven for 20 minutes until fully cooked - not too soft.
In a pan heat a tbsp of cooking oil and and sautee carrots and sultanas until caramelized then add remaining stock mixture and stir for another minute. Set aside, add lamb to rice then top with carrots and raisins mixture.
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together well and leave the meat mixture in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Once mixture has settled, roll into golf size balls and flatten into patties.
Heat cooking oil in a pan over medium high heat and fry each patty until it is a light-to-dark brown colour on each side.
Afghan Salata (salad)
In a bowl, dice 3 medium (salad) tomatoes, 3 baby cucumbers (peeled), and 1 sweet onion. Add 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro and 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice. Top with 1/2 tsp salt (to taste) and 1/2 tsp sumac. Mix well and serve.
If you don't have Shan masala for the kabob mixture, I suggest increasing the salt level. In the pictures I also served the dish with homemade tomato chutney on the side. I will post a recipe link to this later.