Challaw (Afghan rice)

Prep 15 mins (plus soaking rice)

Cook 30 mins

Serves 4-6

Difficulty 1

The rice grains in a perfect challaw are elongated and separate, and the dish traditionally accompanies wet curries such as sabzi. Soak the rice for 2–3 hours or longer before preparing challaw.

370g (2 cups) sella basmati rice, soaked for 2–3 hours
1 tsp bruised green cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
125ml (½ cup) sunflower oil
375ml (1½ cups) hot water

1. Bring 2 litres (8 cups) water to the boil in a large saucepan. Drain any excess water from the rice, rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, then add to the boiling water with 1 tablespoon salt. Boil the rice until parboiled and the grains seem to have doubled in length (5-6 minutes).

2. Drain the rice in a colander, discarding the water, and return the rice to the saucepan. Add the cumin, cardamom and 1 tablespoon salt, and mix gently to combine with a kafgeer or large, flat slotted spoon. Add the oil and hot water and stir gently to coat the rice grains.

3. Cover with a lid and cook over high heat until steam escapes from beneath the lid; this is a critical step in preparing the rice to avoid it overcooking and becoming gluggy (5-6 minutes). Once you see the steam, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 20 minutes.

4. Serve with your favourite sauce-based dish.



Extracted with permission from the book Parwana by Durkhanai Ayubi. Recipes by Farida Ayubi with assistance from Fatema Ayubi. Buy the book here.

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