Maqlubeh is an upside-down chicken and rice dish, a Palestinian tradition made for everything from weddings to Friday gatherings. It can be cooked with cauliflower or no cauliflower, eggplant or no eggplant, or even a mix of both cauliflower and eggplant, plus potatoes, so you have layered flavours in one pot.
Various spices at different stages give the maqlubeh an added depth of flavours – the uncooked rice is mixed with all spice and cinnamon, and so are the raw slices of onions, plus the different layers are spiced at every stage.
You can use a whole chicken, or shredded chicken for convenience of quick weekday lunches. You can choose to fry the vegetables or just roast them in the oven for a healthier twist. Whatever the case, this is comfort and tradition in one pot.
Prep time 30 mins
Cooking time 45 mins
1/2 cup olive oil and sunflower oil mixed
2 onions, cut into thick rings
Seven spices (allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, ground cloves, cumin, ground coriander, and white pepper) and salt to taste
3 tsp ghee
2 chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces and sauteed with onions for about 5 minutes
1 cups American long-grain white rice and 4 cups Egyptian short-grain rice (mixed together)
1 garlic clove
1 capsicum, sliced into rings and shallow-fried
1 green chilli, whole
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 potatoes, cut into rings and deep fried
½ cup tomatoes, cooked
2 eggplants, sliced and deep-fried in oil
2 cups cauliflower, in florets and deep fried
1/4 cup lemon juice
¾ cup chicken stock
1. To a deep saucepan, add oil.
2. Add some some salt, cinnamon, black pepper and 7-spice to the onion rings.
3. Mix well.
4. Once oil is hot, add the onions to the saucepan. Tip in any remaining spice mixture left behind in the bowl to add to the intensity of flavours!
5. Add some ghee and stir-fry until aromatic, then turn the heat to high until onions are cooked.
6. Add a clove of garlic.
7. Add the capsicum slices and mix well.
8. Add one green chilli.
9. Add some oil, salt, cinnamon, black pepper and 7-spice to the rice.
10. Add some mashed garlic and chilli. Mix the rice well.
11. Check to see if the onions are cooked
12. Add tomato slices and leave for 1-2 minutes until cooked.
13. Add a handful of rice at this stage.
14. Layer the slices of potatoes on top.
15. Lower the heat, shake the saucepan on the gas to cover evenly, then add the cooked tomatoes.
16. Layer with the chicken fried with onions.
17. Layer with fried eggplants. Add some salt, cinnamon and black pepper.
18. Add the cauliflower pieces in the centre, then some more salt and cinnamon.
19. Tip over all the rice. Gently shake the saucepan to ensure the rice moves down. Use your hands and smooth the rice on top.
20. Add some slices of tomato in a circle at the edges of the pan.
21. Add some fresh lemon juice on top, followed by chicken stock until the liquid is 1cm above the rice.
22. Leave to cook for about 45 minutes in total, checking at a gap of 10 minutes to stir just the rice to ensure even cooking.
23. You can choose to serve the maqlubeh as is. If turning upside down, set to the side for 15-20 minutes covered, before turning. Scatter pine nuts over and serve hot with some cucumber yogurt.