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Exquisite Afghani Parda Pulao Recipe: A Celebration of Flavors and Aromas

Afghani Parda Pulao is a sumptuous and aromatic rice dish that hails from Afghanistan. This dish is a celebration of flavors, combining tender marinated meat with fragrant long-grain rice and an array of aromatic spices. The unique aspect of this recipe lies in the “Parda” or “Veil,” which is a thin layer of dough that covers the pot during the cooking process, sealing in all the goodness and enhancing the flavors of the dish. The result is a visually stunning and mouthwatering meal that is perfect for special occasions or gatherings with family and friends. So, let’s dive into the delightful world of Afghan cuisine and learn how to prepare this exquisite Afghani Parda Pulao.


For the Marinated Meat:
– 500g boneless meat (chicken, lamb, or beef), cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1 cup plain yogurt
– 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
– 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
– 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 1 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1 teaspoon ground coriander
– 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
– 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
– Salt, to taste

For the Rice:
– 2 cups long-grain Basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes and drained
– 4 cups water
– 1 large onion, thinly sliced
– 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
– 1/4 cup raisins
– 1/4 cup slivered almonds
– 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
– 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– Salt, to taste

For the Parda (Dough Veil):
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– Water, as needed


1. Marinating the Meat:
– In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat, yogurt, vegetable oil, ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, red chili powder, and salt.
– Mix everything well until the meat is evenly coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight for maximum flavor.

2. Preparing the Parda (Dough Veil):
– In a separate bowl, add the all-purpose flour and gradually add water while kneading to form a smooth, elastic dough.
– Once the dough is ready, cover it with a damp cloth and set it aside.

3. Cooking the Rice:
– In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the soaked and drained rice along with some salt.
– Cook the rice until it is 70% cooked (still slightly firm). Drain the water and set the parboiled rice aside.

4. Layering the Pulao:
– In a heavy-bottomed, deep pot, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced onions and cook until they turn golden brown and crispy. Remove half of the onions and set them aside for garnish.
– In the same pot with the remaining onions, add the marinated meat along with its marinade. Cook on medium-high heat until the meat is tender and the liquid has evaporated, creating a thick, flavorful sauce.

5. Assembling the Parda Pulao:
– Preheat your oven to 180°C (356°F).
– Spread the cooked meat evenly at the bottom of the pot. Layer the partially cooked rice on top of the meat.
– Sprinkle the chopped mint, chopped coriander, raisins, slivered almonds, ground cardamom, and ground cinnamon over the rice.
– Roll out the prepared dough into a thin sheet and cover the pot, creating a seal.
– Place the pot in the preheated oven and cook for about 25-30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together and the rice to fully cook.

6. Serving:
– Once the Afghani Parda Pulao is done cooking, remove it from the oven and carefully remove the dough seal.
– Gently fluff the rice with a fork, mixing in the meat and the aromatic spices.
– Garnish the pulao with the reserved crispy onions.
– Serve hot, accompanied by yogurt raita or a fresh salad, and enjoy the delectable flavors of this Afghani delicacy.

Note: The Parda (Dough Veil) technique is traditional and gives the dish its unique character. However, if you find it challenging, you can also use a tight-fitting lid for the pot to achieve a similar effect.


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