Thursday, March 02, 2006

Afghan Rice Pilaf with Chicken and Yogurt (Bor Pilau)


MEANING: No one advertises his own faults.

Afghanistan, (which literally means Land of the Afghan) is a mountainous land-locked country located in Central Asia. It has a long history and culture that goes back over 5000 years with many name changes. It has four major ethnic groups: Pashtoons, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks. There are also a lot of other smaller ethnic groups including Jews. The food is a little mix of Indian, Persian and Middle Eastern flare. You can see the Indian influence in this recipe but it does not have all of the spices.

medium/large onion, finely sliced
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken or lamb, cut into small chunks
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
8 ounces yogurt
Salt and red pepper
1 teaspoon ground cilantro/coriander seed
1 pound (2 1/2 cups) basmati rice
1/4 teaspoon saffron, soaked in about 1 tablespoon warm water
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Fry the sliced onion in the oil until soft and golden brown. Add the chicken or lamb pieces and fry until golden brown. Add the garlic and fry for a minute or two. Now add the yogurt, salt, red pepper and ground cilantro. Simmer over a medium heat until the meat is tender (about 40 minutes).

Meanwhile wash and soak the rice in plenty of water for about 30 minutes.
Bring 5 cups water to a boil in a large pan and add the rice. Bring back to a boil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then strain in a colander. Take one half of the rice and put in a large pan. Add the chicken and its juices. Add the remaining half of the rice and sprinkle the saffron and cardamom and a little more red pepper over it. Cover the pan with a tightly fitting lid and increase the heat for a minute or so to bring back the juices to a boil, then place the pan in a preheated oven at 300°F for about 45 minutes.

Serves: 4

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