Qaabuli Pallow

Qaabuli Pallow

by Christi Qazi / April 17, 2008

This dish is usually made for special occasions, such as weddings or family gatherings. This recipe uses lamb, but you can substitute chicken.


  • 200 ml – (7oz) vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 800 g (~2lbs) lamb leg or shoulder, on the bone, chopped into 6 cm (~3 inch) pieces
  • 1 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 liters (8 cups) water
  • 75 g (⅓ cup) white sugar
  • 2 tsp garam masala (made from ground cloves, bay leaves, cardamom and cinnamon)
  • 1½ tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1 kg (5.6 cups) long grain basmati rice, rinsed 3 times and soaked in cold water for 2 hours
  • 1 bag(~8oz )carrots, peeled and cut into long matchstick pieces (approx. 3 inches long)
  • 4-8 oz of sultanas raisins (or alternative type of small raisins), You can use more or less depending if you want more or less raisins on top of the dish.
  • 1/2 cup of  mixed slivered almonds and pistachios, to garnish (Optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Kitchen Bouquet Browning & Seasoning Sauce (to darken the rice and add a bit of richness in flavor) optional


Heat 50 ml of the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and cook the chopped onion for 6–8 minutes, or until golden. Add the lamb, garlic and 1 tbsp of salt and cook for 8–10 minutes, or until lamb is well browned on all sides, stir regularly and be careful not to burn the garlic. Remove the onions Add 1 cup of water, reduce heat to low and cook, skimming surface occasionally, for 1½ hours, or until lamb is tender. Remove lamb from pan and set aside. Reserve the stock, grind down the cooked onions and add them to the stock. This onion stock will color the rice later; sometimes this does not come out as dark as some people like so one option is to add the Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce, which will add color and flavor to the rice.

Stir half of the sugar in a hot saucepan, with a small amount of oil over medium heat. Cook, constantly stir the pan, for 5–6 minutes or until sugar has caramelized. Carefully add 250 ml (1 cup) of reserved stock, the remaining salt, 1 tsp of garam masala and a pinch of cardamom. Bring the mix to a boil, and then remove from heat and set aside.

Drain the soaked rice. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until almost cooked. Drain and return to pan. Pour over the caramelized sugar mixture, add a pinch of garam masala, salt and cardamom, and gently sift the rice until rice is evenly coated with mixture. Do NOT stir the rice as it will cause the rice to break and become mushy, set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a pan (you can use the same one you used to make the sugar, masala and stock) over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and remaining sugar, lower the heat to medium and stir for about 5 minutes, or until the carrots becomes lightly caramelized and glossy.  Remove the carrots and drain on several layers of paper towels to remove excess oil.  I like to use a set of tongs to cook and remove the carrots and raisins.  Next, add the raisins  to the pan and cook for another 1 minute, or until the begin to swell up. Immediately remove from heat, drain the raisins on another stack of paper towels to remove excess oil, in the pan and stir in another pinch of cardamom. Set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan until it gets hot – Do not make it smoke, be careful, not burn the oil, in order to avoid a fire. After about 1 minute remove from the heat and pour the oil over the rice. Using the end of a large spoon, make holes all over the rice to allow it to steam evenly. Top with spiced carrot and reserved lamb. Cover and seal pan with a tea towel, then a lid. Place over high heat and cook for 5 minutes, or until you hear a ticking sound. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave, covered, for 10 minutes.

Remove lamb and spiced carrots and mix rice well. To serve, cover base of a platter with a little rice, spoon over the lamb and then cover with remaining rice. Top with spiced carrots, then scatter with almonds and pistachios.

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