Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chalou (White Rice)

Challow is a traditional Afghan dish that consists of boiled rice that is mixed with a variety of seasonings and then baked. Challow can be served on its own or as a side dish. Traditionally, challow is served alongside lamb or chicken. Some versions also contain minced lamb.

  • 2 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cooking oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds, whole (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cardamom (finely ground)


  1. Begin rinsing the rice 1/2 hour before you are ready to start cooking it. Place the rice in a large fine sieve. Run under cold water, shaking the grains, until the water runs clear.
  2. Drain well and place in large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water over the level of the rice. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Add the water to a Dutch oven and sprinkle with a little of the salt. Bring the water to a boil. Drain the rice and add the additional water to the pot.
  5. Stir in the rice all at once and stir one time. Bring back to a boil and cook about 7 minutes, or until rice is soft to the bite. Drain and return to pot.
  6. In a small bowl, dissolve the remaining salt in hot water. Add the oil to the salt water and mix well. Add this mixture to the rice, using a back and forth motion, until the rice is covered.
  7. Add the cumin seeds and cardamom.
  8. Using a wide, flat wooden spoon, mix by lifting a section of the rice and shaking back into the pot. Repeat until the whole mixture is covered with oil and the spices have been well mixed throughout the rice.
  9. Bring the rice into a slight mound in the middle of the pot. With the spoon handle, make 4 holes around the outer edge of the mound, and one in the center. The rice needs these holes for ventilation.
  10. Place the tight fitting lid on the pot and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the rice sit inside the cooling oven for 20-30 minutes.
  11. Uncover and mix as you did previously, by shaking sections of the rice back into the pot until the grains are separated.


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