Vegetable Maqluba Recipe (A Vegan Makloubeh)

Vegetable Maqluba recipe (vegan maqluba), an easy to follow recipe for the showstopping Palestinian upside down rice dish.
Vegetable Maqluba
Vegetable Maqluba on black plate
Vegetable Maqluba

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

Vegetable Maqluba on a black plate
those chickpeas are going to go rogue on you and go all over the place!

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.

Maqluba with lamb
Maqluba with Lamb

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:

Marinated Courgettes

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.

Vegetarian Maqluba
Vegetarian Maqluba

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

Lin xx

Vegetable Maqluba

Vegetable Maqluba Recipe (A Vegan Makloubeh)

Vegetable Maqluba recipe (vegan maqluba), an easy to follow recipe for the showstopping Palestinian upside down rice dish.
5 from 21 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Palestinian
Keyword: middle eastern, one pot, rice
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 46 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 6 minutes
Servings: 6 (4-6)
Calories: 317kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


  • sieve for draining rice and marinated vegetables
  • small saucepan
  • Knife
  • 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

Dry Spices

  • pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp salt
  • coarsely crushed black pepper

To Serve

  • 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!
    Vegetable Maqluba

Want to know what saucepan I'm using?


Calories: 317kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 487mg | Potassium: 705mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1252IU | Vitamin C: 64mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
Made it? Upload your photosMention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!

14 thoughts on “Vegetable Maqluba Recipe (A Vegan Makloubeh)”

  1. Irene Raymond

    I’d love to make this recipe, but it won’t print off. I wonder what’s happening? I’ve been able to print a few other Makloubeh recipes from other sources a few minutes ago, so I know it’s not my computer. This recipe looks GOOD!

    1. Hi Irene, just tried it on my end, and it printed off fine. Don’t know what the issue is.
      Perhaps you could just copy and paste it onto word or Keep, then print, if it’s still not working.

  2. 5 stars
    I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a recipe so much. An absolute delight, from start to finish. Initially, I made it exactly as written using marinated vegetables, and it was fabulous. Since then, I’ve played around with mixing in fresh vegetables and it is still just a fun recipe to make and a showstopper at the table. Simply a perfect recipe that even diehard carnivores will love!

    1. Hi Candy, that is so wonderful to hear, that you loved the recipe as well as all the different ways you’ve made it. Thank you for dropping me a comment to let me know. x

  3. This looks so interesting and delicious, but I’m wondering, is there a non-vegetarian version of this dish?
    This is my first time on your site. But I can see it is going to quickly become a favorite. I love the multi-cultural aspect.


    I can’t find marinated veggies in store. So, how much eggplant, zucchini & bell pepper? I need measured recipes. Why basmati rice instead of brown rice (or other rice)? What can I substitute for saffron? Step 7: “turn the heat down”. Medium or medium low?

    1. Hi Suzanne, let’s take your questions one at a time.
      1. 1 medium eggplant, 1 medium zucchini, 2 bell peppers, preferably different colours for a prettier look.
      2. Basmati rice is always the best choice when cooking any Middle Eastern or Indian dishes. It has a better flavour and holds its shape better, then say cheaper long grain rice or Jasmine rice. Brown rice is not traditional (and this is a traditional recipe) but if you prefer it for health reasons, by all means.
      3. Instructions say “turn the heat right down” – right down indicates all the way down.
      I hope that helps.

  5. 5 stars
    Maqluba looks delicious and filling. It is something I would love to try, its a new dish for me. Liked how the veggies and chickpeas are marinated and used here Azlin.

  6. 5 stars
    Za’atar yogurt will do with this delicious looking Vegetable Maqluba. So different from the normal veggie dishes I prepare. A meal on its own with all the veggies and chickpeas. Getting the tower onto the plate I guess requires loads of patience.

  7. 5 stars
    Ha ha! Scatter the pine nuts and pretend that is what you are doing. … an excellent tip especially for me. I get all upset and anxious when the tower breaks.
    Love the yum vegetarian maqluba. While it will mean some pre-preparations for me I want to make this yum rice. Absolutely delicious!

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