Scroll down for YouTube video, above the recipe.
Maqlooba, or 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. Chicken or meat; cauliflower or eggplant; tomatoes or no tomatoes, there many combinations to this, even before you start thinking outside the “traditional” box.
Maqluba is, like Pad Thai, 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.
Maqlooba is usually eaten with just a side of yoghurt salad – yoghurt, cucumbers, tiny amount of onion/spring onion, mint, tiny amount of chilli.
Before we look at the ingredients, you might be interested in another favourite rice dish:
Yemeni Chicken Mandi Recipe
How to make Perfect Maqluba (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 as you get them ready and one more time as you’re layering (for good measure), of course, don’t overdo it with the salt!
Basmati is best for this. 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. I’ll let you decide this for yourself. Ok?
As mentioned, it’s your choice, I’ve gone for minced beef here, but you can use lamb, chicken or turkey. Or leave out the meat altogether, using just the same amount in vegetables. You can also use sliced meat, instead of mince.
Traditionally, it’s either cauliflower or eggplants. 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 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.
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 beef stock overpowering and seldom make 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 ones I use.
One stockpot or stock cube is usually for 500ml (2 cups) of water. So for the amount of liquid here, 2 stock cubes or pots are perfect, as we have the meat and vegetables to flavour too.
I prefer to coarsely grind some black peppercorns for this, allowing the pepper to shine through, yet blend in, instead of getting lost.
The saucepan/casserole dish. I believe a tightly packed pan will produce a tightly packed result, giving you a neat “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.
And if you fancy more Middle Eastern recipes, just head on over to the Middle Eastern page for recipes like:
Maqlooba (Maqluba) Recipe on YouTube
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How to cook Maqlooba, (also Maqluba, Maqlouba), a Palestinian upside down rice dish, simply served with some yoghurt on the side.
- 500g (2 1/2 cups) Basmati rice
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 500g (1.1 lb) minced beef
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp salt
- coarsely crushed black pepper
- 750ml (3 cups) chicken stock, hot, preferably simmering away when you need it
- 1 small cauliflower, chopped/sliced to bitesize pieces & roasted or grilled (see below)
- about 4 handfuls of eggplant, courgettes & capsicum, cut to about the same size as cauliflower
- 2 tomatoes, round sliced
- pine nuts and chopped fresh parsley to serve
- Rinse and drain the rice and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in the saucepan over medium heat.
- Sauté the onions for about 3-4 minutes.
- Add meat, allspice, salt and quarter – half tsp pepper, stir and brown the meat all over and cook for about 10 minutes on medium high heat. We are also trying to lose as much of the liquid from the beef as possible, to avoid a soggy result afterwards.
Ok, here comes the fun bit!
- I do all this on the table, then transfer the pot to the stovetop. Grease your saucepan of choice and start with the layer/s of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the meat. Pack it in, flatten, season.
- Add the vegetables, pack it in, season.
- Finally the rice, pack, flatten, season.
- Take a small saucer, place it face down on the rice (or use the back of a large spoon), and pour all the stock in. This stops a gap/hole appearing in the rice as you’re pouring the stock in (you know, like when watering plants?).
- Place the pot on the stovetop, turn the heat on high for about 3 minutes to bring everything up to simmering point although you’ll probably only see the edges bubbling.
- Put the lid on, turn the heat right down and cook for about 45 minutes. After that time, if you think the rice isn’t done, another 5-10 minutes should suffice.
- Take a large plate or serving platter, place it over the pot, take a deep breath, turn it upside down, inverting the rice onto the platter. This is just like doing the Spanish Tortilla.
- 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 with some yoghurt.
- If you do have a tower, as I expect you to, scatter with pine nuts and parsley & serve.
- Arrange the cauliflower pieces (lightly coated with olive oil & seasoned) on a baking sheet, roast for about 20-30 minutes at 180˚C/350˚F.
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Medium
- Cuisine: Palestinian
Keywords: rice recipes, palestinian food, one pot recipes