Maqluba Recipe (Makloubeh), Palestinian Upside Down Rice

How to cook Maqluba, (also Makloubeh), a Palestinian upside down rice dish, simply served with some yoghurt on the side.
Best maqluba recipe, maqluba layers photography
Maqluba with lamb
Maqluba with minced lamb

Maqluba, means “upside down”. Looking at the picture, that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? It’s a delicious, comforting Palestinian rice dish, a one pot treasure that knows as many variations as there are cooks making it.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Maqluba Recipe

Maqluba is more a method than a recipe. As long as you know the principle behind the dish, i.e. the layering, the use of some sort of fat, allspice, rice and meat – or even just vegetables – you’re off to a delicious start.

I’ve made many variations of Maqlooba, including, all vegetarian (using olive oil/butter/ghee as the fat), meat/chicken and varying the spices by adding turmeric and/or sumac.

Maqluba is usually eaten with just a side of yoghurt and green salad. It is such a flavoursome dish that you don’t really need anything else.

Lamb Maqluba
Layers are always pretty

How to make Perfect Maqlooba

Start with a layer or two of tomatoes – not only does this prevent the bottom burning but those tomatoes are to die for at the end of cooking time. I’ve been known to really pile the tomatoes on for the second reason.

Season all the layers well with salt and pepper as you get them ready and one more time as you’re layering (for good measure), BUT, don’t overdo it with the salt!

In my original, old photo, and in the video, you see me making just one layer of everything. But in these new pictures, as you can see, I split the lamb up to create more layers. It just looks prettier that way, doesn’t it?

What Rice to use for Maqluba?

Basmati is best for cooking maqluba. Now, no matter what I’m cooking, I do not believe in soaking the rice first, preferring the texture of it without the soaking period.

You can either use a pot or a portable rice cooker. I’ll let you decide this for yourself. Whatever you are using, just follow the instructions in the recipe for this maqluba recipe.

The Meat

Lamb is the meat of choice in the Middle East. Quite often, the lamb used is chopped up, bite-sized pieces. But I’ve gone for mince lamb here, for no particular reason. You can used either.

You can even use chicken or turkey in maqluba; many of my readers who don’t eat red meat, have done that.

Or leave out the meat altogether, using just the same amount in vegetables, like in this Vegetable Maqluba.

Best maqluba recipe
Layers of flavour

The Vegetables in Maqluba

Traditionally, cauliflower, eggplants and capsicums (bell pepper) are the vegetables of choice. I like to add courgettes (zucchini) to the mix for even more variety. I find this limiting and prefer to use both as well as capsicum (bell peppers) and courgettes (zucchinis), the last 3 having a natural affinity with each other.

The vegetables for maqluba are also traditionally fried, before being layered. I prefer to roast them in the oven with a little oil, salt and pepper, not being a massive fan of fried food. Frying or roasting the vegetables give them flavour which transfers onto the final dish.

Feel free to cheat here and get ready roasted vegetables from your supermarket, if you fancy. I always have a bag of these in the freezer, they are so handy for when I’m feeling lazy.

The Stock for Maqluba

Many people are happy to add water to the cooking meat, remove the meat, then use the liquid as stock – I prefer to use additional homemade stock – or a good shop bought one if you’re not into making stock. Also, I find lamb stock overpowering and seldom make it or use it, preferring to use chicken stock across the board.

If you make your own stock, great, if not, use a good shop bought stockpot or cube, no artificial anything. We tend to have frozen homemade stock at home, but there are always some stockpots handy for when we run out, and because they are also very convenient. These are the stockpots that I use. I have them in the whole range.

One stockpot or stock cube is usually for 500ml (2 cups) of water. So for the amount of liquid in today’s maqluba recipe, 2 stock cubes or pots are perfect, as we have the meat and vegetables to flavour too.

The Saucepan

The saucepan/casserole dish. I believe a tightly packed pan will produce a tightly packed result, giving you a neat maqlooba “tower” that won’t fall apart. For the amount of ingredients here, you’ll need a dish that measures 20cm-22 cm (8″-9″) across ideally.

This is a question I get a lot. The saucepan I’m using in these latest pictures is a stone pot. And here is the link for the whole set.

And on that note, shall we get our aprons on?

More Middle Eastern Recipes

Just head on over to the Middle Eastern and North African page for delicious recipes like:

Images from LinsFoodies

Thank you to everyone who’s shared your photos with me on social media. Keep them coming!

♥ If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! 😉 Thank you! ♥

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

Best maqluba recipe, maqluba layers photography

Maqluba (or Makloubeh, Palestinian Upside Down Rice)

How to cook Maqluba, (also Makloubeh), a Palestinian upside down rice dish, simply served with some yoghurt on the side.
4.96 from 311 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Palestinian
Keyword: middle eastern, one pot, rice
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 6 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 21 minutes
Servings: 8 (6-8)
Calories: 530kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor

Equipment

  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • small saucepan for the stocl
  • large frying pan for the mince
  • saucepan for the maqluba measuring 20 – 22cm, about 10cm high (8-9" x 4")
  • baking sheet
  • ladles and spatula as needed

Ingredients

  • 500 g Basmati rice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 500 g minced lamb (or beef)
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 800 ml chicken stock hot, preferably simmering away when you need it

Vegetables

  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 courgette (zucchini)
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 4 tomatoes sliced in rings
  • 1 small cauliflower

To Serve

  • 30 g pine nuts
  • 1 handful fresh parsley chopped

Instructions

Prep Work – the rice and vegetables

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F, for the cauliflower.
  • Rinse and drain the rice and set aside.
  • Dice the onion (chop up fairly finely).
  • Chop up the eggplant, courgette and capsicum into rough cube shapes. Basically, quarter the eggplant and courgette lengthwise, then slice.
  • Slice the tomatoes into rounds and set aside.

Let's Roast the Cauliflower (you can skip the roasting and use it raw)

  • Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.
  • Arrange the cauliflower pieces on a baking sheet and drizzle 1 Tbsp of EV olive oil all over. Sprinkle a ¼ tsp of salt and some freshly ground black pepper and roast for about 20 at 180˚C/350˚F. Flip halfway through the cooking time.

Let's precook the minced lamb

  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  • Sauté the onions for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add meat, allspice, salt and some pepper, stir and brown the meat all over and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat. You want the final result to be a little on the dry side, but not too dry. A little moisture is good.

Let's assemble and cook our Maqluba

  • Grease your saucepan all over. Then start with layering the bottom with the sliced tomatoes. You'll get 2 layers. Season with salt and pepper, a small sprinkle will do.
  • Add half the meat, season with a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Then pack down with a potato masher.
    In my original recipe and video, I place all the meat first. But in these new pictures, you can see that I'm layering the meat along with the rice.
    So half the meat now, and half later.
  • Add all the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and pack down.
  • Then top with half the rice, season with salt and pepper and flatten.
  • Now we add the second half of the meat, season, and pack down.
  • And finally, the second half of the rice. Season with salt and pepper, and pack down.
  • Take a small saucer, place it face down on the rice (or use the back of a large spoon), and slowly pour all the stock in. This stops a gap/hole appearing in the rice as you're pouring the stock in. You also don't want to mess with the packed rice and stuff.
  • Place the pot on the stovetop, turn the heat on high for 3 minutes to bring everything up to simmering point although you'll probably only see the edges bubbling. When you see the bubbles at the edges, move on to the next step.
  • Put the lid on, turn the heat right down and cook for 45 minutes. After that time, if you think the rice isn't done, another 5-10 minutes should suffice.
    Take the saucepan off the hot hob and leave the rice to rest for 10 minutes before unveiling.
  • Take a large plate or serving platter, place it over the pot. Holding the plate tightly against the saucepan, give it a gentle shake. Then slowly, ease the saucepan off the plate.
    In the video, this happens at around 12:15 minutes.
    Top with the nuts and parsley.
  • If you packed the saucepan as mentioned, it shouldn't collapse. But if it does, no big deal, scatter with pine nuts and parsley and serve.

Know someone who needs a VEGAN MAQLUBA?

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 530kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 498mg | Potassium: 896mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 826IU | Vitamin C: 65mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 3mg

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Maqluba on YouTube

93 thoughts on “Maqluba Recipe (Makloubeh), Palestinian Upside Down Rice”

  1. 5 stars
    Hi! This has become one of my go-to dishes for parties, thanks so much for sharing! I make mine vegetarian, using lentils, which are a great meat substitute. I make a very spicy sofrito and add the lentils, and I always put potatoes on the bottom of the pot because they´re great burnt and crispy (like an Iranian potato tahdig). Thanks again!

    1. Hi Hannah, do you mean the leftovers or are you making it earlier?
      Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days, then slowly reheated on the stove, or even just in the microwave.

      If you are making this earlier, if it’s for the next day, then it’s best to keep it in the fridge, then reheat on the stove the next day on very low heat for 1 hour, with 2 Tbsp of water.

      If you are only making it to serve a few hours later, then just leave it on the stove, and re heat for 20 – 30 minutes on low heat.

      1. 5 stars
        Hi, I meant I was making it earlier. There wasn’t much leftovers anyway since it was very delicious. I am definitely making again! I like how everything was in one pot. My Mum, Dad and sisters all agreed it was great.
        Thanks Xx

  2. Hi there,

    May I know if i should base my cooking time on the cuts of meat I use? I’m just confused as 40 minutes seems really long for chicken breast boneless so wondering if the meat will be dry.

    1. Hi Karen, the cooking time is for the whole pot, and is the “normal” way of cooking rice in the Middle East and even in south Asia for biryanis and like. This is to allow all the flavours to work better. The chiken will be fine as there is plenty of moisture for it from the stock.

  3. 5 stars
    I had heard an interview on NPR about an author/chef who described this dish & how it always made her think of home. It sounded so amazing I googled it as soon as I got home & made it for dinner that night. It is SO good. The whole family loved it. The first time we just used the roasted cauliflower & chicken – but the 2nd time we did all the veggies (& chicken) and it was/is amazing. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. It’s a pleasure, Meagan, I’m so pleased to hear that. There is something so grand, yet comforting about this dish, no matter what you put in it!

  4. 5 stars
    I looked at so many recipes than settled for yours as it had the best explanations. Thanks it was one of the best rice dishes I’ve ever had. And being Indian, I’ve had a few! I served it with some raita and dal. Definitely making again, thank you.

  5. 4 stars
    I loved it, though I must admit 2 things.
    1. I checked out many other recipes and used all the spices, plus doubled spice…. I LOVE SPICE
    2. I thought it needed more spice…….cause I love it. So, I made 2c chicken broth with same spices and added 2t dissolved cornstarch to thicken. Used it as a serving sauce for leftovers.

    All that said, I will absolutely make this again

  6. 5 stars
    Hi Azlin
    This is a very lovely & delicious dish. Made this dish for dinner, so yummy!!!
    My kids & I love middle eastern cuisine, we eat at the restaurants mostly cos doubt I’d be able to cook middle eastern dishes at all. But today, am cooking it at home – this is a great achievement for me 🙂
    Your recipe is absolutely 5-star!

      1. Hi again, Azlin!

        Have browsed the dishes on your website. They look yummy!!! And yes, will keep you posted after I’ve cooked them 😉

        Thanks again!

    1. Hi Liz, sure, you can definitely use drumsticks. I would cook them for about 30 minutes before hand. Pick them out of the cooking pan, and any leftover liquid, add it to the stock for cooking the whole thing. Let me know how it goes.

  7. Made it and it tasted lovely, but the tower totally fell apart. Which is fine, but I’d like to try again. Any thoughts on what pot material is best? I used ceramic nonstick, wondering if that was the problem. Also, what do you use to grease the pan? Butter, olive oil, or is either fine? And thanks — this is so delicious.

    1. Hi Great, I’m pleased to hear you liked the recipe, even if it did fall apart. I think non stick works best for this, whatever the material. The key to ensuring that your tower doesn’t fall apart is to pack in your content. You also want a saucepan that’s not too big, so that your maqluba is about 1-2 incehs from the top, when filled.
      And yes, the grease doesn’t matter, but olive oil is in keeping with the recipe.

  8. Dorren Rodriguez

    Hey! I recently made the recipe and it turned out great! And the tower almost stood fine! Except for one thing. The rice cooked very unevenly. Some was slightly mushy and some was barely cooked. I did not soak the rice as you suggested. I used basmati rice. I peaked in the pot a couple times and each time the water soaked unevenly, so half was exposed with no water and half was submerged with water. I kept adding water but this kept happening. Did I pack it too tight? I was also wondering if my pot was too “tall” (too far away from the heat?) and not wide enough? Any ways to prevent this? I put the burner very low to simmer after boiling, did I put it too low? Also would it be possible to cook the rice separately and then add it in? Or would the tower not be too sturdy that way?

    1. Hi Dorren, I’m glad you like the recipe despite the rice not cooking well. I must confess to being a bit puzzled over the problem. If your pot was too tall and thin, that could cause the rice to cook unevenly, with the top layer being the last to cook.
      My guess would be that the stock didn’t get hot enough before you turned the heat down. That definitely would explain the unevenness of how the rice was submerged and uneven cooking.
      How much rice were you using and what size pot?
      As long as the water is simmering “properly”, you can turn the heat right down, and the rice would still cook. That’s how I cook rice on the stove, at its lowest setting.
      If you wanted to cook the rice separately, you can, but the rice won’t be as flavoursome.
      To do this, pack the saucepan with the cooked rice and sprinkle with a tablespoon of water.
      Then, place it on the stove on high for 2 minutes, then lowest setting for 15 minutes.
      Do this while the rice is still hot, straight after cooking. that way the rice is still hot and pliable enough to be packed.

      I hope that helps. Let me know if you try it again, and how it goes. Anymore questions, I’m always happy to help.

  9. How do I alter the beginning step to eliminate meat? Some of my family is vegetarian. Do you have a recipe for the side of chicken. Also, would this dish work with brown rice? Thanks.

    1. So I assume that you are going to use quite a bit more vegetables to make up for the meat, right? This is what I would do:
      1. Fry the onions, then add 1 type of vegetables, maybe like green and red bell peppers. Fry for just 2 minutes, season with a bit of salt.

      2. Then follow the rest of the recipe from “Ok now comes the fun bit”. But instead of the meat, after the tomatoes, follow with the onion and bell pepper mix.

      3. Then the other vegetables, and finally, the rice.

    1. Absolutely. You can either reheat in the microwave with a tablespoon of water, or on the stove. Naturally, the vegetables will be a little softer, but it’ll still be delicious.

  10. 5 stars
    Hi. 🙂

    I am Dody, and I would like to ask if calories are 100 grams or whole food?
    Thank you very much.

    Dody
    🙂

      1. 5 stars
        🙂
        Hi.
        Thank you very much. 🙂
        That is what I ate, so I had to fill in my calorie table.
        /I am on a diet… 🙂 /
        Unfortunately, I can’t cook :), but very delicious, that’s for sure.
        Thank you!
        🙂

  11. Looks great. Can’t wait to try it! When you season each layer is that with salt & pepper or with more allspice? Thanks in advance.

  12. I want to make it with Chicken. What kind of cut should I use for it? Thighs? Breast? Or drumsticks?
    I know I’m a bit late hahah but hope you see this

      1. Wow, thanks for the fast reply! I will definitely let you know, making it tomorrow!
        Another quick question (sorry) can the cauliflower be replaced with patatoes and would the cooking time change since it’s way starchier?
        Thanks for the help on my maqlooba journey 🙂

          1. Yes, you can definitely add potatoes. Cut them up into small cubes, and I would fry them for 2-3 minutes in just a little oil before adding them with the rest of the vegetables. We fry them not to cook them first but to give them a nice crispy edge which will enhance the final flavour. Keep the cooking time as in the recipe. With the potatoes being cut up in small cubes (1 inch, roughly), they won’t take too long to cook. Add 1/4 cup more of water or stock, roughly 60ml.

        1. I think just 1 medium sized one. Potatoes absorb flavours and moisture, if you add too many, your maqluba will end up being a bit bland. Also, it’starchy, you don’t really want it competing with the rice.

      2. Hi azlin I’m making this recipe with bone in chicken but I just noticed in the responses it needs to be boneless. I used small pieces. What adjustments do I need to make? Hopefully you can reply soon:/

        1. Hi there, you don’t need to make any adjustments to the recipe. Just as it is is fine. The reason we use boneless is so it’s easier to eat, that’s all.

  13. Linda Rybak

    Hi,
    Would like to know how to heat TGIF tomorrow? I cooked it and left it in the pot.
    Thanks,
    Linda

    1. Linda Rybak

      Meant to say
      How do I re- heat this tomorrow since I made it today and we r only eating it tomorrow? I left it in the pot.
      Thanks !

      1. Sprinkle about 3 Tbsp of water all over, heat it on medium heat for 5 minutes to allow the rice to heat up without burning. Then turn the heat right down and heat it for 15 minutes on this low heat.

  14. 5 stars
    This is a beautiful recipe thank you. I wonder if i have to feed a crowd like 2kg rice Will it still stand up When i turn it or should i make 2 pots.again thanks for all your great recipes they come out good every time.

    1. Hi Hanne, I’m so glad you like, thank you for your kind words. I think definitely divide the recipe into 2 pots.2 kg rice plus all the other ingredients also x 4 – you’re going to need a massive pot. Handling the pot will be the bigger problem as you flip it over. I hope that helps.

  15. 5 stars
    Outstanding! We’re able to get this delicious dish at a local restaurant, but after traveling to Israel and Palestine where the dish was presented so beautifully, I wanted to make it at home and for special occasions. I made it tonight and used only roasted vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, cauliflower, onions and garlic) and vegetable stock because my daughter is vegetarian. I also used freekeh instead of rice and added a bit of cinnamon with the allspice. Oh, my goodness! So very good—my family loved it! Thank you for sharing the recipe. It’s a keeper.

    1. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Bethann! I am in the same position, my kids have all gone vegetarian, and that’s exactly how I make it sometimes too. The freekeh is such a great idea. xx

  16. Azlin, love this recipe and we really enjoy your casual video. You are so fun to watch. Our family is really going to enjoy this recipe. Just pinned and shared. Wishing you a super weekend!

  17. I have a 2 1/2 deep cast iron skillet or a 5 in deep regular (no stick) pot. Which is better to use?

  18. Can I still use the same recipe and instructions if I use beef stew? Like pieces of meat instead of minced beef.

    1. Yes, you can. However, the cooking time will depend on the cut of beef. If you are using quick cooking beef, like for a stir fry, then just cook it for 5 minutes on high heat, and proceed with the recipe. However, if you are using stewing beef, then, you want to cook the beef for 1 whole hour, so it’s almost cooked, then proceed with the recipe. You have to add some water to the beef if you are cooking it for 1 hour. If you add about 2 cups of water, you can use the “stew” as the stock for the maqluba. I hope that makes sense. Any questions, just ask.

      1. Great! Thank you for your quick response! I had Magloubah for the first time last year when we went to Jordan. I want to recreate this wonderful dish for some friends!

  19. The very top bit of my rice is still raw is there a way to get it cooked withough adding more liquid?

    1. Yes, lower the heat right down, drizzle just 2 tablespoons of water (to create steam), then cover with a tight fitting lid (with no steam vent). Cook for another 15-20 minutes at this lowest setting. If your lid has a steam vent, cover the saucepan with foil first, then place the lid on the foil.

  20. Tasted a veggie version of this dish in Jerusalem just this month. The host served roasted chicken on the side with Jerusalem salad and yogurt.
    I Google for recipes and I found yours interesting. I will try this when I get to find an appropriate pot to use.
    Am not quite clear on the amount of stock to put.

    1. Thanks Ruby! I love serving it vegetarian and roast chicken on the side too! It’s a very traditional way of serving this, or with some kebabs.
      You use all the stock up, I’ll see if I can make that clearer.

  21. Love your recipe and had tried before. I am making it tomorrow for a big crowd all of middle eastern background, I hope it turns out good and impress them

    1. Hi Maria, thank you for your message! And I’m glad you love the recipe, I am sure it’ll be perfect for the party tomorrow! Have fun, let me know how it goes!

    1. 180 is ok, I say for about 45 minutes, until the rice is all done. 700ml stock, enough to cook the rice. I hope I’m not too late with this reply, just saw it!

  22. I love maqluba but hardly make it anymore. I love eggplant in mine but my kids aren’t too fond of it. I like mine with chicken. I am impressed with your tower! Looks perfect!

    Nazneen

    1. Thanks Nazneen! I’m lucky my kids love it too, but I find that it works so well for parties!

  23. Such a gorgeous presentation! I’ve never seen anything like it before. Just wondering …. why did u put a bowl on the rice while pouring the stock? For measurement? This is just perfect for entertaining! Sorry for not coming by as much; been really busy!

    1. Same here, Shirley! The saucer is there to stop the stream from making a hole in the rice, like when watering without a spray attachment!

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