Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, lies just a few hours from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. Imagine Silk Road traders creating the first dishes of Kabuli Pulao right here in north-western Pakistan.

Pulao can be created with any size grain of rice, which the chef always fries in oil while stirring in large amounts of dry spices. Usually, there will be a chunk of mutton or beef meat, sometimes an entire leg, at the heart of each massive batch.

Saffron gives the rice taste and color, but typically the spices are milder than biryani. Whole cloves of cardamom and golden sultana raisins give off a beautifully sweet aroma, and at larger restaurants it may include peanuts and even pistachios as a garnish.

One can recognize pulao on the streets in the absolutely huge stainless-steel cooking vessel, a unique, bell-like shape, often resting at a curious 45-degree angle. Kabuli Pulao is a perfect dish for lunch, walking around the lively street atmosphere of any of Pakistan’s large, bustling cities, especially common in and around Peshawar.