This Vegetable Maqluba is a delicious, lightly spiced rice dish that makes a wonderful centrepiece for celebrations. Perfect for vegetarians but will also be loved by the carnivores in your family.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Table of contents
What is Maqluba?
Maqluba, which means upside down, is a layered rice dish originally from Palestine, but has long been enjoyed all over the Middle East. Also spelled Maqloubeh, it is usually made with chicken or lamb, but after hundreds of requests, here is my recipe for a vegetable maqluba. Or a vegan maqlubah, to be precise.
If you do a search for Maqluba, you’ll find my recipe from almost 10 years ago somewhere at the top of the search results, where it’s been since I first published it. That maqluba, made with minced lamb (beef can be used too), is one of the most popular recipes not just on LinsFood, but also with my clients and students.
And this is what it looks like.
Vegetable Maqluba Recipe
No matter what maqluba I’m making, I tend to follow the same blueprint as the lamb one above. I mean, why mess with perfection, right? I do, however, up the spices a little, to ensure that our vegetable maqluba has plenty of flavour.
We will be using the same vegetables, and we also add some chickpeas to the mix, for some protein and bulk. You can always skip the chickpeas (but don’t reduce the spices), and this vegan maqluba recipe will feed 4 people.
Just a note: those chickpeas are going to go rogue. Some of them will insist on running away from the pack, just put them back on the tower. Or, as suggested in the recipe, we add a teaspoon of cornflour to the mix. But I don’t actually bother.
As far as the vegetables are concerned, we’re doing something different today. But first, these are the vegetables we’ll be using:
- cauliflower – we’ll be roasting this first
- capsicum (bell pepper)
- courgette (zucchini)
- aubergine (eggplant)
Let’s use Marinated Vegetables
If you’ve been a longtime follower of LinsFood, you’ll know that I just love marinated vegetables or pre roasted/grilled vegetables. Just take a look at these, they all contain marinated vegetables:
When you use marinated vegetables in stews, rice or as pizza/pie topping, they just contribute so much more flavour than regular, fresh vegetables.
And that’s what we’ll be using in our vegetable maqluba today, to give it a deliciously deep flavour and aroma.
You can find these marinated vegetables in tubs or jars either at delis or in the antipasto aisle in supermarkets. You can also make your own, naturally, but for today’s vegan maqluba, we shall assume that we’re buying them. This is an eg of what I mean:
No Marinated Vegetables?
However, if you don’t fancy using marinated vegetables, or can’t find them, then by all means, use fresh. You could pre grill them if you like. Just lay them flat on a baking tin, drizzle a little olive oil, and roast for 15-20 minutes at 180C/350F.
The most important thing to think about when cooking maqluba is the flavouring. So remember to season every layer well. That’s with salt and pepper.
What if the tomatoes are stuck?
No big deal. Just scoop them out with a flat spatula and place them on top of your tower. This way, you’ll maintain a little of their shape.
Because they are so soft, they’ll fall apart if you pick them up with your fingers. Also, as you can see from the Lamb Maqluba recipe video, when I attempted to do that, they will be hot!
The same goes for any chickpeas that may be stuck. We do grease the saucepan all over, to lower the risk of this.
How to Serve this Vegan Maqluba?
Traditionally, maqluba doesn’t need any accompaniment apart from some yoghurt on the side. That’s how I always serve it, with a green salad on the side. Za’atar yoghurt would be perfect.
On top of that, I almost always have some Zhug on the side, for those people, like me, who absolutely must have some spice with their meals. Zhug is a green hot sauce from Yemen.
However, if you find that you do need a sauce or gravy to accompany it, as my kids do, then any Middle Eastern style stew will work. Even south Asian curries too. Below is a gallery of what you can serve our vegetable maqluba with (the Persian stew isn’t vegetarian, but I give you an option of how to make it so, on the post).
And now, shall we get our aprons on?
Some ideas to Serve with Vegetable Maqluba
♥ 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
Vegetable Maqluba Recipe (A Vegan Makloubeh)
- sieve for draining rice and marinated vegetables
- small saucepan
- Chopping board
- small frying pan
- ladle and spatula as needed
- saucepan for the maqluba 18cm wide, 10cm high (7" x 4")
- 250 g Basmati rice
- 100 g drained chickpeas from a can this is the drained weight
- 400 ml vegetable stock (2 stockpots or cubes + water)
- 1 Tbsp EV olive oil
- 1 tsp cornflour + 2 Tbsp water (cornstarch in the US)
- juice of half a lemon
- a little more oil for greasing
- ½ small cauliflower
- 1 jar marinated eggplants
- 1 jar marinated courgette (zucchini)
- 1 jar mixed marinated capsicums (bell peppers)
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 large onion
- 30 g pine nuts or flaked almonds
- 1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
Prep Work – Rice, Chickpeas and Stock
- Rinse and drain the rice and set aside.
- Drain the chickpeas and give them a quick rinse, drain and set aside.
- Place the stock in a small saucepan. Crush the saffron and drop into the stock. Heat this stock up on the smallest ring and on the lowest setting, while you get everything else going.
Prep Work – Vegetables
- Chop up the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.
Drain the marinated vegetables and slice any overly big pieces.
- Dice the onion (chop it up fairly finely).
- Slice the tomatoes into rings and set aside.
Let's fry the Onions and Chickpeas
- Heat the olive oil in the saucepan over medium heat.
Sauté the onions for 2 minutes.
Tip in the drained chickpeas, allspice, turmeric, salt and a few good twists of pepper. Stir and cook for 1 minute to let it heat up.
Mix the cornflour and water and drizzle this onto the chickpeas and stir well. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat. Take it off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and set aside.
Let's assemble and cook our Vegetable Maqluba
Grease your saucepan of choice all over. Then start with the layering the bottom with the sliced tomatoes. You'll get 2 layers. Season with salt and pepper, a small sprinkle will do.
Add the marinated vegetables and season with salt and pepper. No need to separate the different vegetables. Pack down with a potato masher.
Follow this with the cauliflower. Season and pack down.
Finally the rice, pack, flatten, season with salt and pepper.
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 up the packed rice and vegetables.
Place the pot on the stovetop, turn the heat on high for 2-3 minutes to bring everything up to simmering point although you'll probably only see the edges bubbling. When you start seeing the bubbles at the edges, move on to the next step.
Put the lid on, turn the heat right down and cook for 40 minutes. Then, take it off the hot hob and leave the maqluba 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. This will loosen the packed rice slightly. Now, gently ease the saucepan off the plate and you'll be left with a beautiful maqluba tower. You can see me doing this on the traditional maqluba recipe video at 12:15 minutes. Scoop up any stuck bits and place on the top of your tower and then scatter with the pine nuts and chopped 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 pretend that's what you were going for!
Want to know what saucepan I'm using?
- I get a lot of questions about this. So here is the link to Amazon for the saucepan that I'm using.