Afghani Pulao | Kabuli Pulao Recipe

Afghani Pulao or Kabuli Pulao is a hearty signature cuisine of Afghanistan, made with Sella rice, garnishing with carrots, raisins (dry grapes). And The juicy meat in this pilaf make a more flavorful dish.  

kabuli pulao

Following the Peshawari culinary tradition, Afghani recipes hold a special place in the hearts of Pakistani people. They are cherished, crafted simply, employ fewer spices, are effortless to prepare, and offer a rich and indulgent flavor.

Afghan Pulao holds a top spot in our Afghan cuisine. I inherited this recipe from my father long before I married. On special occasions, I frequently prepare Afghan Pulao or Kabuli Pulao, which never fails to earn me many compliments from guests.

afghani chicken pulao

Unlike Biryani, the Afghani pulao has less heat and more umami taste and feels super hearty on the stomach. 

In my 35 years of cooking experience, I have made many alterations to this Afghani chicken pilaf recipe to get the best version. And today, I’m going to share one of my refined versions of the recipe that will shake your palates. 

Why This Afghani Chicken Pilaf Will Win Your Heart?

  • Satisfying & Filling:

    Have you ever tried Chana Pulao? Yes, the taste of this Afghani/Kabuli pulao is just closer to that of Chana (Chickpea) Pilaf. But the juicy chicken bites, carrots, and dry grapes make this recipe more satisfying and filling. 

  • Not So Spicy:

    I love this recipe because fewer spices are needed for it. This Pilaf boasts a rich umami flavor and subtle nuances that are both enticing and satisfying. Pashtun people don’t like spices. This traditional recipe will introduce your palates to a new taste. 

  • Striking Appearance:

    The juicy carrots and dry grapes are the two main ingredients we used for dressing. Both these ingredients give a striking appeal to the final dish of Kabuli pulao. 

  • Easy To Make:

    Undoubtedly, the Afghani pilaf is one of the easy pilaf recipes that require no fuss spices, no high-level culinary skills, and no extra pans. And if you’re a novice cook, this is the best recipe to surprise your homies.

The History Of Afghani or Kabuli Pulao Recipe?

Afghani or Kabuli Pulao

The roots of this Afghani Pulao are emerging from Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, as the dish’s name suggests. The Afghani culture and Peshawar Khyber Pakhtunkhwa heavily influence the dish. 

Pashtuns occasionally prepare this Pilaf in bulk during traditional festivals, marriage ceremonies, and other cultural occasions. And from Pashtuns, we have copied this recipe. 

I’m living in KPK, which is a province of Pashtun culture, and this recipe is more like a national dish here; that’s why I cook this recipe twice a month. My kids and husband love to eat this recipe after the Friday prayer. 

This Afghani Pulao is a more aromatic, satisfying, and substantial meal served on both dinner and lunch. The fried carrots over the Pilaf and aromatic sella rice are prime symbols of kabuki pilaf. Further, we add some sugar to bold the sweet nodes in the recipe.

However, it’s not as sweet as a Zarda because we add some traditional spices to give it a fiery touch. 


chicken pulao ingredients
  • Chicken: Traditionally, beef is used in the recipe; the juicy beef chunks and flavorsome rice pair perfectly. But here, I’m using Chicken pieces; the juicy chicken pieces also feel more filling in the recipe. You can also use mutton or lamb meat.
  • Tomatoes: Based on your preference, you can use Cheery of Roma tomatoes. I’m personally using the paste of frozen Roma tomatoes. 
  • Onions: You can’t ignore onions for Kabuli Pulao. The onions provide a more savory flavor and promote life in the gravy. 
  • Potatoes: My kids love sweet potatoes in Pilaf, and I always use these potatoes in salads an in curries. 
  • Garlic Ginger Paste: You can use a food processor or mortar & pestle to get the paste of garlic and ginger and boost the aromatic nodes in the recipe. 
  • Carrots & Dry Grapes (currants): Fried carrots and dry grapes are the prime ingredients in the Afghani Pilaf. And you can’t live without this item for this recipe. 
  • Whole Spices: Dry Coriander, Cumin seeds, salt, and Red Chili powder. Plus, you also need some sugar for Afghani pulao.

Let’s Make This Afghan National Dish

  1. Roast The Chicken:First, I’m roasting a chicken in a pan. Add the oil to a pan and toss the chicken pieces in the heated oil. It could take you around 10–12 minutes to get the golden color of the chicken; keep the heat medium while frying. Or if you’re using meat, boil it in a pressure cooker. 
roast chicken in pan
  1. Sauté The Onions: I use another pan to make the gravy. Add some oil and sauté the onions until they turn light golden. During this process, keep the heat medium.
onions frying
  1. Add Garlic Ginger Paste: Now, add the garlic and ginger paste. I’ve also included one green chili in the paste to for spicy flavor. Stir it, and keep it on a medium flame for 3 minutes. 
garlic ginger paste
  1. Extract Some Onions For Garnishing: After 3 minutes, the onions have turned completely brown. At this state, extract some of the onions because, later on, we will use these onions for garnishing. 
  1. Adding Chicken: The onions are now ready to blend with the chicken. But before adding the chicken, toss the salt and a splash of water to cook the chicken further. Add the roasted chicken and stir for one minute. Keep the heat medium during this process.
adding chicken
  1. Add Masala: Then, add all the spices and sugar. I’m also adding tomatoes and potatoes at this stage. Add a splash of water to speed up the potatoes’ cooking time, and cover the lid for 8 – 10 minutes. 
include sugar
add spices
  1. Include The Rice: I rinsed the rice before roasting the chicken. But remember that you don’t need to rinse Sella rice for long. Only 10 to 15 minutes are enough to rinse them. Extract the moisture from the soaked rice and toss it into the gravy. At this stage, I’m adding four glasses of water. Now cook the rice for 8 minutes. 
  1. Steaming (Dum): This crucial step brings a sturdiness and subtle taste to the Afghan Pulao. I’m transferring the pan over a griddle (Tawa) for steaming. Turn the flame from medium to low and tightly cover the lid for 12 – 15 minutes. Finally, garnish with fried carrots and dry grapes.

My Pro Tips

  • Always use Sella rice for Afghan Pilaf. They have a firm texture, less stickiness, and a pleasant aroma. Never use basmati rice for this pilaf. 
  • Keeping the water balance is crucial. If you’re using one glass of Sella rice, add two glass of water. For two glasses of rice, use four glasses, and so on. The less water makes the rice more sticky and ruins the texture. 
  • Always use the roasted chicken or boiled meat in the gravy. Don’t directly toss the raw meat. Otherwise, cooking will take too long, and the gravy might shrink. 
  • I used the fried carrots and dry grapes for garnishing. Don’t garnish with raw carrots because they feel weird and crunchy in bites, and this thing sucks!
  • Do you want to boost the appeal of your final Kabuli pulao dish? I’ve taken out some large pieces of chicken before adding the rice to the pan, and after steaming, I put these chicken pieces over the recipe to elevate the appearance.
afghani pilaf


You can store Kabuli Pulao in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days. To reheat, just transfer the dish over the stovetop and stir it frequently to transfer heat to every grain of rice. 

Afghani Pulao or Kabuli Pulao is not a spicy pilaf like Biryani. However, if you’re a spicy lover, just increase the amount of red chili powder in it, or you can also use chili oil in gravy for extra heat. 

Sugar is a must-have item in Kabuli pilaf, making the taste sweet, savory, and umami. But if you dislike white sugar, Maple syrup, brown sugar, or any sweeter is a substitute. You can also use fewer cardamoms to enhance the aromatic nodes in this palaw. 

Steaming is the only way to remove extra moisture from the Pilaf. If you accidentally pour water, simply exceed the steaming time to remove extra moisture. 


Kabuli Pulao is a substantial dish, so you don’t need to serve any main dish with it. Instead, the Salads and Rita pair perfectly with this Afghani cuisine. Or you can simply use mint chutney for extra heat and spicy flavor. 

kabuli pulao

Afghani Pulao | Kabuli Pulao Recipe

Afghani Pulao or Kabuli Pulao is a hearty signature cuisine of Afghanistan, made with Sella rice, garnishing with carrots, raisins (dry grapes). And The juicy meat in this pilaf make a more flavorful dish.  
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 6


  • 0.7 kg chicken
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 2 Potatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • ½ tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 green chili 
  • 1 small bowl of dry Grapes (currants) 70 grams
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dry coriander 
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • Salt (Adjustable)
  • 1 tbsp red chili powder


  • First of all, we will roast the chicken. For this, add the oil and the chicken to a pan. Fry it until it turns brown. After that, in the same oil, fry the carrots for 2 minutes, and then try dry grapes for 30 seconds. 
  • Soak The Rice: 15 minutes is enough to soak the Sella rice in water.

Prepare The Gravy: 

  • Take a separate pan and heat the oil in it, then sauté onions until lightly golden over medium heat.
  • Add garlic, ginger paste, and a green chili for spice. Stir and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  • After 3 minutes, the onions have turned completely brown. At this stage, remove some of the onions for garnishing later.
  • Add the salt and a splash of water. Then I added the roasted chicken and stir for a minute over medium heat.
  • Next, toss in all the spices and sugar. Along with that, I'm throwing in tomatoes and potatoes. Add a splash of water to quicken potato cooking, then cover the lid for 8-10 minutes.
  • Now, add the rice to the gravy, but extract the moisture from it before adding rice. Here, I'm using four glasses of water for two glasses of rice. And let it simmer for 8 minutes. 
  • To steam, I place the pan on a griddle (Tawa), reduce the flame from medium to low, and tightly cover the lid for 12-15 minutes. Garnish with fried carrots and raisins to make kabuli pulao more appealing. 


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