This is the fourth blog post in our “A Taste of LATRO” series.
LATRO continues to celebrate the diversity of our team members, and one of the core values that drives us is the ability to thrive in a multi-cultural global marketplace. When LATRO was birthed more than a decade ago, we had only two employees in the US. Today, we have over 40 employees across eight countries and growing. This blog series will give you a glimpse into our diversity, which we see as one of our most valuable strengths as a company.
Given we are all still confined to our homes to varying degrees because of the COVID-19 pandemic and most likely in need of some cooking inspiration, our Lead Analyst, Meghan Hardy-James, has come to our rescue again – inviting us (and you!) to continue along with her as she is introduced to yet another of her colleague’s unique dishes. This #atasteoflatro journey highlights our team members’ global backgrounds and traditional dishes. So, as you did before, grab an apron and keep enjoying!
Our next recipe is from Mohammad Zarif, LATRO’s Revenue Assurance Services Manager. His Afghanistan dish Qabili Pulao is a very traditional and tasty dish. Come join Meghan in Zarif’s kitchen!
Mohammad Zarif – Afghanistan
Zarif joined LATRO at the end of 2019 as our Revenue Assurance Services Manager. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and if you are lucky enough to meet Zarif, you will quickly see how he truly represents the Afghan culture – one marked by memorable friendliness and hospitality.
In Afghanistan, relationships are formed over a single meal or even a cup of tea. “Aab o Namak shudim,” or “the right of salt,” is an important concept for Zarif’s family and Afghans. It places great responsibility on guests to be faithful and honest with their host. This idea originates from a story about thieves who broke into a man’s house to steal jewelry and valuables. Before the thieves left the house, the group leader saw a white gem-like item. Thinking it was a gem, he put the item up to his lips and instead discovered it was a block of salt. As a result, the leader told the other thieves to return all the items they were planning to steal because he had now eaten in the house and had to honor the host.
Qabili Pulao – This dish of rice and meat is best prepared by Zarif’s wife. When Zarif was at university, he and his friends would visit a local restaurant, Uzbek Palaw,(https://www.facebook.com/uzbekpalawafg/) to eat their famous Qabili. It was quite common around exam times for Zarif and his friends to eat the dish at Uzbek Palaw and then go mountain climbing together. Qabili is best served in the cold winter months. لذت ببرید!
½ c plus 2 tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil, divided
5 tsp. salt
1 cup chicken broth
3 large carrots, peeled
1 cup black raisins
½ cup slivered almonds
3 tbsp. sugar
¾ cup water
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground black pepper
12 cups water
2 tbsp. browning sauce such at Kitchen Bouquet (optional)*
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Immerse rice in a bowl of water and drain in a colander.
3. Repeat this step 3 times. Wash and dry the chicken. Set aside.
4. Chop the onions in a food processor using the pulse button. Don’t puree the onions. You can do this by hand if you prefer.
5. Choose a sauté pan that is at least a couple inches deep and large enough to fit all the chicken.
6. Pour ½ cup of the oil in the pan and sauté the onions over high heat, stirring quickly, until brown. (5-10 minutes)
7. Add the chicken to the pan and sprinkle with 3 tsp. of the salt. Cook the chicken over medium-high heat for 6 minutes, turning from time to time so all sides turn golden brown. The onion will start to caramelize and turn into a thick sauce.
8. Add 1/4 cup of the chicken broth, and continue stirring to keep the chicken from burning. Once the liquid has been absorbed, add another 1/4 cup of chicken broth, bring it to a boil, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and simmer for 10 minutes. The sauce should turn a dark brown. If your sauce does not take on a dark color you can add the Kitchen Bouquet to give it color.
9. While the chicken is cooking, cut the carrots into long thick matchsticks, about 4 inches long and 1/8-inch thick. Make sure that they are not too thin. In a large frying pan, add ¾ cups of water and bring to a boil, add the carrots and cook until tender and a deep orange hue, 5 to 7 minutes.
10. Keep a close eye on this to make sure you do not overcook them. Once the carrots are done, drain any leftover liquid out of the pan. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil, raisins, almonds and sugar to the carrots. Stir quickly over medium-high heat and keep stirring for about 3 minutes. The raisins will look plump; the carrots will take on a nice sweet flavor. Remove from heat and package the carrots into a sealed aluminum foil pouch about the size of a small paperback novel.
11. Remove the chicken pieces from the broth and set aside. Stir the cumin, cardamom and black pepper into the broth. Continue to cook on low for 5 minutes to allow it to thicken.
12. Meanwhile, measure 12 cups of water and the remaining 2 tsp. of salt into a large Dutch oven or pot with a fitted lid. Bring it to a boil. Add the rice to the water and boil until it is al dente (nearly cooked, though still slightly crunchy). This will take just a few minutes depending on the rice you use. You will have to taste it to check for doneness. Do not overcook it.
13. Immediately strain the rice through a colander. Put the rice back into the cooking pot and add the sauce from the chicken. Mix well. Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the rice. Set the aluminum package of carrots on top of the rice. This will keep the carrots warm and deepen the flavors without mixing with the rice yet.
14. Bake the rice for 15 minutes in 500 degrees then drop the temperature down to 250 degrees. Cook for another 20 minutes.
15. Arrange the chicken pieces on a large platter, cover with the rice. Sprinkle the carrots, raisins, and almonds on the rice. Serve with a simple salata. Serves 6-8.
Meghan is a Product Manager at LATRO, based out of the UAE Office. Previously, she was LATRO’s Lead Analyst and helped our clients detect and locate illegal SIM Box operations. She is now combining her extensive experience with her passion for building innovative solutions and bringing new products to market. Meghan enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with friends and family.