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 (see Sabzi Challow – Spinach and Rice with Lamb). Some versions also contain minced lamb.
- 2½ cups basmati rice
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- 1½ tablespoons cumin seeds, or to taste
- ¾ tablespoon salt
- 1½ tablespoons ground cardamom
- 6 cups water
- Preheat the oven to 175°C
- About 30 minutes before you want to start cooking place the rice into a large bowl and fill with cold water. Scrub all of the grains of rice and carefully drain the water off. Repeat 3 times or until the cold water is clear. After the last rinse, fill the bowl over the level of the rice with the cold water and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
- In a large ovenproof deep pan with a tight fitting lid, add the water and sprinkle the water lightly with salt. Bring the water to a rolling boil, and then drain the water from the rice and add to the boiling water.
- Stir all the rice once and then let it come back to a boil or about 7 minutes or until the rice is soft when you bite on a piece.
- Drain the water from the rice in a strainer and in a separate glass, take ¼ of a cup of hot water and dissolve ¾ tablespoon of salt into the water.
- Add ¼ of vegetable oil to the hot water and salt and mix well. Add this mix to all of the rice in a back and forth motion until the top of the rice is covered.
- Next add the cardamom and cumin to the rice. With a wide flat spatula mix this into the rice by lifting a section and shaking the rice back into the pan. Repeat until the whole pan of rice is mixed and covered with oil (it will look slightly shiny) and the spices are dispersed throughout the rice.
- Pile the rice into a mound in the middle and with the back of the spatula, in a circle pattern make 5 "holes" for ventilation in the mound (four around the circle and one in the middle of it).
- Place the top on the pot and place in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes turn the oven off and leave for 20-30 more minutes to let the rice set up. When you go to serve the rice first separate it by taking a portion and shaking it back into the pan, repeat until all of the rice is separated.