This is one of my absolute favorite dishes, and I have never understood why I have not seen it on a menu at an Afghan restaurant. Kecheri Quroot can be likened to risotto in that it is a rich dish made with short grained rice. The first time I asked my mom for a recipe for kecheri quroot she laughed out loud, and said no one asks how to make kecheri quroot it’s so basic, anyone can cook shola. Initially I got a little huffy feeling like she was laughing at me, but what my mom meant is that kecheri quroot falls under the category of shola for Afghan food. Shola is a soft mushy short grained rice that basically is cooked in the starch of its water, and becomes very sticky from absorbing the starchy water. Since Afghan rice is known for its individual grains, shola is the opposite as it is sticky and soft. But there is an art to perfecting shola as well, because the trick is to cook shola and allow it to absorb water/broth many times to perfect and get it nice and sticky. Kecheri quroot is a type of shola that comprises of two dishes and one “sauce”.
The first part is a yellow shola made of short grained rice and mung beans.
1 and ½ cups of short grained rice
1 and ½ cups of mung beans (if pre-soaked then add with rice at the same time)
1 cup of Oil (may need more)
½ large onion finely minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ clove of fresh garlic
1-) Heat your oil in a pot, add the minced onion and garlic. Fry until the onions have a light caramel color. Also preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2-) Add one teaspoon of turmeric and let that fry for a few minutes so your oil turns a nice orange color
3-) If you did not pre-soak the lentils then add the lentils and let them cook for 15 minutes before adding the rice. If your lentils are pre-soaked then add lentils, rice, and 2 cups of water. Add about a teaspoon of salt as well, if needed add more you can taste and make adjustments.
4-) Cover the pot with a lid and turn the temperature to low letting the rice and lentils cook. After about 10 minutes, check the rice and lentils. If the water has been absorbed, add about another cup or half cup of boiled water. You continue to do this until the rice and lentils have cooked and absorbed most of the water. This cooking process of slowly cooking the rice allowing it to absorb more water is what gives the dish a creamy flavor.
5-) Once the rice and lentils are fully cooked there should be some water in the pot. If most of the water has been absorbed then add 1 cup of boiled water. Cover the pot with foil, and put in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Kufta (Small Meatballs in a tart tomato sauce)
1 Ib Ground Beef
1 large onion finely minced
1/2 can Tomato Paste
1 can Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Ginger
1-) For the meatballs mix ground beef, ½ of the minced onion, 3 tablespoons black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ginger. Roll into tiny meatballs.
2-) Place ½ of the minced onion and ½ clove minced garlic into a sauce pan with some oil. Fry until the onions are a light brown color.
3-) Add one and a half cups of water and let this come to a boil.
4-) Add meatballs gently, you can coat the meatballs with a little water so they are smooth.
5-) Let the meatballs cook with lid on for about 20 minutes.
6-) Add ½ can tomatoes pasta and 1 can tomato sauce. Let the sauce simmer for another 15 minutes, then put on low and let it cook until oil comes to the top and you have a thick sauce.
The third part is quroot which is made from dried chakkah (strained yogurt). That may sound confusing on its own. Quroot is found ready made in Afghan shops or sent to Afghans in the diaspora from overseas. To prepare it you take the quroot, defrost it and mix it yogurt to get a runny sauce. I am honestly not a big fan of quroot, so you can always use chakkah (strained yogurt) mixed with a little garlic, salt and mint instead.
To serve the Kecheri Quroot, you take out a big serving platter. Put the rice on the platter leaving a hole in the middle. Place your bowl of chakkah in the middle. Then put the kufta kurma all over the kecheri quroot. The dish is heavy, but delicious. The rice is thick and rich, and the chakkah makes the dish creamy but also lightens it with the tart yogurt flavor. The first time I heard the recipe for kecheri quroot I was surprised I kept asking my mom what makes the rice so creamy and soft, and I kept thinking there must be some heavy ingredients, but she said it was in the simple preparation of cooking the rice over and over again in its own starchy water and allowing it to fully absorb the flavors of the broth.