Chicken Maqlooba

This is a very famous dish in the Arab world with many variations which include other meats like lamb or beef and different vegetables. “Maqlooba” means upside down or flipped. Once the dish is cooked, the entire pot is flipped onto a serving plate and the dish is served family style. A special seven-spice blend called Baharat can be found in most Middle Eastern grocery stores or sections, but we’ve included a recipe for that ingredient.\ Ingredients:

  • 2 medium size eggplants, peeled and sliced into thick rounds
  • Salt, for divided use
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder, plus extra as desired
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 kilogram chick, lamb or beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon baharat*
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup chopped, fresh parsley
  • Sliced almonds and pine nuts (optional garnish)

Preparation: Salt the sliced eggplant and let sit for two minutes. Rinse and leave to dry on paper towels. Place rice in a large mixing bowl and add two cups of warm water, two pinches of salt and 2 teaspoons turmeric powder. Stir and let sit for 30 minutes. While rice is soaking, fry the cauliflower and eggplant until lightly browned on all sides in a large sauce pan. Remove from pan and place in a colander to drain any juices. (Alternatively, these can be roasted in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning once during cooking time.) Add chicken (or other meat) to a large stock pot and fill with enough water to cover. Add onion, bay leaves, and baharat and cook over medium heat until the meat is cooked through, approximately 30 minutes. Remove the meat and season with salt. Pour broth into a large measuring cup or bowl for later use. In the large stock pot used to cook the meat, layer the cauliflower and eggplant pieces in desired pattern. Top with the meat and then garlic cloves. Drain the rice (discard soaking water) and spread it over the top to form the next layer. Add salt, extra turmeric, and cumin powder to the reserved broth then pour over the rice. The rice should be covered by about 2 cm of liquid. Cook over high heat for 7 minutes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the rice is fully cooked. Remove from heat and cool. While maqlooba is cooling, in a dry skillet over medium heat, toast almond slivers and pine nuts until fragrant and lightly brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Remove lid from maqlooba and press the mixture down with the back of a large spoon or spatula to compress the layers. Place a flat serving dish upside down on top of the pot. While holding the plate and the pot, carefully flip it over so that now the pot is resting upside down on top of the plate. Tap the pot on the bottom and carefully lift it straight up. Garnish with parsley and toasted nuts. Makes 4 to 6 servings. *Baharat is available in most Middle Eastern grocery stores or markets, but it’s easy to make. Combine ground black pepper, paprika, cumin, ground coriander, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon and ground cardamom. Tip: Add the cardamom last and a little bit at a time as the flavor is strong. Recipe submitted by Rania Bassam