Gala Parwien Sana is married into our family. She’s originally from Afghanistan and she’s a marvellous cook. Her rice is legendary. This rice is sweet, spicy and seductive. It tastes great with or without meat.
In countries like Pakistan, Iran, India and Afghanistan, it’s all about the rice – the quality of a cook’s rice is the ultimate proof of his or her mastery of the kitchen. But no Afghan dish is complete without lamb meat. This stew is subtle tasting and accompanies the delicious and fragrant rice perfectly.
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2½ lbs boneless lamb shoulder
2 small onions
2 tablespoons advieh (see recipe below)
1 large carrot
1¹/³ cups large yellow raisins
(available at Middle Eastern grocers)
2 tbsp dried chopped orange peel,
or 1 tablespoon ground (see note)
2¾ cups basmati rice, washed and drained
¹/³ cup butter
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp dried edible rose petals
(available at baking-supply shops and online)
Mix the cinnamon with the cardamom, cumin and rose petals. Sprinkle over the finished dish and serve the remaining advieh separately.
Chop the meat into bite-size pieces and mince the onions. Heat a good amount of olive oil in a Dutch oven and brown all the meat all over, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pot. Add the onions, the advieh and some salt and cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Add enough water to almost cover the meat. Cover with a lid and stew for 1½ to 2 hours over low heat, until very tender.
Peel and grate the carrot. Steep the raisins and the orange peels in water to cover until they’re nicely swollen from absorbed water. Drain well.
In a large pan, bring ample water to a boil and add some salt. Add the rice and simmer for about 5 minutes, until al dente, and thoroughly drain in a large strainer. Combine the rice with the carrot, raisins, orange peel and butter in the strainer. Then ladle everything back into the pan (don’t scoop it all in at once or the rice will not be fluffy). Using the handle end of a wooden spoon, punch a few steam holes all the way through until you hit the bottom. Wrap the lid of your rice pan in a clean towel. Put the lid on the pot and allow the rice to gently steam for another 20 minutes over very low heat. Leave the rice covered until you’re ready to serve it. Serve Gala’s rice with the lamb stew.
NOTE: If you can’t find dried orange peels, thinly slice the zest of 2 oranges. Briefly cook the strips in boiling water, then rinse them immediately with cold water. The peels will taste a little bitter. If the bitterness is not to your taste, repeat the cooking process twice more with clean water. You can add the blanched peels directly