Although I have attempted to cook Kabuli pulau at home on several occasions, it never is the same as when the Afghans make it at their restaurants. When I get the craving, there is one place that I have learned never disappoints, and that is Afghanistan Kabob House on 9th Avenue in New York City. Located near Times Square, it is easy to walk to, so you should give this Afghan restaurant a try, since it is hard to find Afghan food in other parts of the country.
The first wave of Afghans came over when their country was at war with the former Soviet Union, and I think this family was no exception. This restaurant has been a staple in the area for years. In fact, when I was eating yesterday, I overheard someone describing how he used to come to Afghan Kabob House all the time with his family when he lived in the area years ago. And like me, the food kept him coming back when he was in the neighborhood.
Interestingly enough, I looked at the back of the menu for the first time in all the times I have eaten here. The owner of Afghanistan Kabob House is deeply rooted in New York City as a whole, as you can see from the notes he has received from politicians.
Kabuli pulau is the national dish of Afghanistan. It is similar to Indian biryani, but it does not have the Indian spices. Instead, it is a has a subtle sweetness that is not overpowering to the taste buds. This is because raisins are in the middle of those carrots you see at the top of the rice. Another interesting twist is that pine nuts are sprinkled at the top. Now that I have also had Nepalese biryani, I know that it is made the same way as that but without Indian spices.
Although the chef at Afghan Kabob House serves it with a salad and a side of fresh, Afghan bread, I could be happy with just a plate full of Kabuli pulau. It really is one of my favorite foods on earth.