The group that put this together included three cookbook authors, a Turkish cooking teacher, an internationally-focused blogger and women expert in the cuisines of their homelands in the Middle East.
This dish intrigued me because I thought it was made with short-grained pasta. The pasta turned out to be exceptionally long-grained aahu barah basmati rice. Mixed in were cubes of lamb and a sweetened mixture of fried carrot strands, raisins, slivered almonds and pistachios.
Called qabeli, or kabuli, pulao, this is the national dish of Afghanistan, mandatory for special occasions. Several of us whipped out notebooks and wrote down the recipe, because we'd never tasted anything like it.
The picnic took place at El Dorado Park in Long Beach. The weather was cool and breezy following days of rain. We warmed up with Turkish tea served in Turkish glasses and mugs. The water had been heated on a small portable stove.
If this had been a food festival, we would have been sorry when it was over. But we are cooking friends, in touch regularly, and we're planning to do it again.