Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole (Kabeli Palau)

Chicken with rice, all bound together with a quick sauce made with caramelized onions and warm spices, topped with a quick sauté of matchstick carrots, raisins, almonds and saffron. Sound, um, unusual? It's amazing.

Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole ♥, rotisserie chicken, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, great for feeding a crowd. Budget Friendly. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. High Protein.

Whole Food, Fresh & Flexible. Budget-Friendly. Weight Watchers Friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. High Protein. Great for Meal Prep & Feeding a Crowd.

Eat With Our Hands? Why Not?!

So what do you think, would you eat with your fingers? Just once, maybe, to try it, in the company of friends?

A couple weeks back, my book club met to talk about the book A Thousand Splendid Suns =by Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini. (You may know him from his first book, the amazing story called The Kite Runner). (FYI, both are affiliate links, see My Disclosure Promise)

"Come hungry," I told everyone the day before. "I'm cooking Afghan food."

"Will we eat with our fingers?" one friend asked with an email giggle. "Why not?!" I thought.

So when we sat down to what turned out to be a great meal and excellent party food, this Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole and an amazing eggplant and tomato layered casserole, Afghan Eggplant & Tomato Casserole, I suggested we give eating with our hands a try.

And call me surprised but only half my friends were willing to experiment with eating with our fingers. For those of us who did? It was weird and awkward. But y'know, what an easy thing to try. Why not?!

Afghan Eggplant & Tomato Casserole (Borani Banjan) ♥, an explosion of tastes and textures and temperatures. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly.

Afghan Chicken: Except with Beef!

Afghan Beef & Rice Casserole ♥, slow cooker shredded beef, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, great for feeding a crowd. Budget Friendly. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. High Protein.

When you have a freezer full of grass-fed, corn-finished beef raised by your neighbors in the country, it's just crazy to buy chicken and pork! That's why you'll find so many beef recipes here at Kitchen Parade. We loved-loved-loved this beef version of Afghan Chicken.

Since there's no beefy equivalent of rotisserie chicken to conveniently buy at the grocery store, instead I made some Slow Cooker Shredded Beef. The salsa added a little heat to the casserole, that was good too! Other than that, I followed the recipe just the same.


Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole ♥, rotisserie chicken, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, great for feeding a crowd.

Special Ingredients

"QUICK" CARAMELIZED ONIONS Oops, no time to make Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions? No problem! Just slice a pound of yellow onions and cook slowly on the stove, stirring often, with 1/2 tablespoon butter, 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon white wine, bourbon or dry sherry. Watch the onions carefully, they'll burn in a flash. Allow about 30 minutes of cooking time, that's why "Quick" is in quotes. The time is mostly unattended but do stay close!

GARAM MASALA What's this, you ask? It's a spice blend from India, there are many, many variations based on locale and personal taste. You can buy a commercial spice blend for garam masala but it's easy to make your own. This is the spice mix I used for this recipe. I make a triple batch to keep on hand but to make your own, just enough for this recipe, combine 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon each coriander and cardamom, 1/3 teaspoon each black pepper and cinnamon, 1/6 teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg. (FYI more DIY Spice Blends & Homemade Seasonings, made to order, mixed to taste.)

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If a creative recipe from the other side of the world inspires you, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...

Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole ♥, rotisserie chicken, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, great for feeding a crowd. Budget Friendly. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free. High Protein.


Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes 15 cups (freezes beautifully)
    RICE (see ALANNA's TIPS)
  • 3 or 6 cups water
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 8 or 16 ounces (225g or 450g) basmati rice
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 cup Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions or "Quick" Caramelized Onions, see above
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron, optional
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 large rotisserie chicken, meat "picked" from the bones, torn into bite-size pieces (or 2 – 3 pounds, that's 900-1350g, cooked chicken)
  • 1 12-ounce jar roasted red pepper, drained and chopped
  • Caramelized Onion Sauce
  • Cooked Rice
  • Additional chicken stock, if necessary
    TOPPING (don't skip this!)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 carrots, cut in matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
  • 1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds
  • Pinch saffron, optional
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Heat oven to 350F/180C.

RICE Bring the water (3 cups for 8 ounces of rice, 6 cups for 16) to a boil. Rinse the rice under running water in a strainer or colander two or three times. Add the salt and rice to the water, bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and let boil quite hard for 6 minutes until the rice is "almost cooked". Turn off the heat and let the rice rest, it will absorb the rest of the water, it's fine if there's a bit of unabsorbed water.

CARAMELIZED ONION SAUCE While the rice cooks, in a food processor (a mini food processor works fine), pulse the garlic cloves a few times to mince. Add the Caramelized Onions, tomato paste, garam masala, saffron and process until smooth. Add the chicken stock, process until smooth. Be aware, on its own, this sauce will taste very salty; don't worry, though, it's seasoning the entire casserole, salt is necessary!

CHICKEN In a large bowl, collect the meat. Stir in the roasted peppers, the Caramelized Onion Sauce, then the Cooked Rice. Transfer to an oven-safe baking dish.

BAKE Place the baking dish, uncovered, in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check it every 15 minutes, the edges should get a little crispy and crackly but if the casserole seems to be getting too dry, drizzle it with chicken stock to moisten. (A turkey baster simplifies this job, I filled one three or four times.)

TOPPING In a skillet, melt the butter until sizzly. Add the carrots and sauté until soft and beginning to turn color. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the water has cooked off. Set aside until ready to serve.

TO SERVE When the casserole is hot and bubbly throughout, remove from the oven. Spread the topping over top and serve hot.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Both times I made this, I made the casserole a few hours ahead of time and refrigerated the chicken-sauce-rice combination until it was time to go in the oven. The topping can also be made ahead of time, just keep it separate.

ALANNA's TIPS So right off, let me say that you may want to play with the proportions of chicken and rice, depending on how much meat the rotisserie chicken yields. Both times I made Afghan Chicken & Rice Casserole, I bought rotisserie chickens from Sam's Club. They are H-U-G-E, a real value for five bucks. That first chicken yielded almost two pounds of meat and I considered using less than the 16 ounces of rice (cooked) – that's a trick I use all the time, intentionally reversing the proportions of a starch (like rice or pasta) and vegetables/protein. So for the second casserole, I fully planned to cook only 8 ounces of rice. But then that second chicken yielded a full three pounds of meat! So I stuck with cooking the full 16 ounces of rice. My recommendation? Stick with 8 ounces of rice for a smaller chicken, the full 16 ounces for a larger chicken. Is rinsing the rice really necessary? Probably not but when I made the same casserole with beef, not chicken, I did and that version version was especially good. For rice, both times I used a Trader Joe's package of "Basmati Rice Medley" – it's got a little wild rice plus dehydrated carrot, leek. Honestly, I love the bit of added color! (You wouldn't want to rinse this rice, however.) With plain basmati rice, I'd be tempted to throw in some wild rice. Both times, I also thought about adding some other ingredients to the chicken and rice, chopped artichoke is a top candidate.
NUTRITION INFORMATION (assumes 3 pounds of chicken and 16 ounces of uncooked rice) Per Cup: 325 Calories; 6g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 80mg Cholesterol; 380mg Sodium; 33g Carb; 2g Fiber; 6g Sugar; 32g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 7 & PointsPlus 8 & SmartPoints 8 & Freestyle 5 & myWW green 7 & blue 5 & purple 5 & future WW points

NUTRITION BEST ESTIMATE (my estimate for 2 pounds of chicken and 8 ounces of uncooked rice, sorry, I didn't measure the yield for this but the calculation assumes a yield of 12 cups casserole, sorry, this is way looser than usual) Per Cup: 276 Calories; 6g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 68mg Cholesterol; 447mg Sodium; 27g Carb; 2g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 27g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 6 & PointsPlus 7 & SmartPoints 7 & Freestyle 4 & myWW green 6 & blue 4 & purple 4 & future WW points
Inspired by Global Table Adventure, a wonderful blog, still online but sadly no longer posting new recipes.

More Casserole Suppers

~ main dish recipes ~
Turkey Wild Rice Casserole ♥, my long-time go-to wild rice casserole, perfect with after-Thanksgiving leftover turkey.

Baked Orzo Casserole with Eggplant, Olives, Goat Cheese & More, another flavor-packed make-ahead summer casserole ♥ A Veggie Venture

Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar, another vegetarian supper ♥ A VeggieVenture. Hearty greens tucked between layers of whole-grain bread studded with butternut squash and cheddar cheese.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ rice recipes ~
~ chicken recipes ~
~ roasted bell pepper recipes ~
~ carrot recipes ~
~ raisin recipes ~
~ nut recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2015, 2019, 2020 & 2023

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Question: is the rice measured dry? How much water if you use less rice?
    Thanks. Looks delicious.

  2. Sunny ~ Thank you for noticing that! Even I was getting turned around on the rice business, even with good notes! And yes, the rice is measured dry. This is a great casserole -- we’re expecting a bunch of people coming in one Thursday night in June, this is what I plan to serve, I already know, that’s a minor miracle!


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna