Maqluba Recipe: A Special Middle Eastern Dish!
By Amal Adnan
Who doesn’t LOVE a homemade, ethnic meal? The aroma of rich, savory spices, the oh, so tender meat and fried vegetables assorted throughout the sandy-colored rice?
Maqluba (which literally translates to “Upside down”) is popular in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey! It’s altered between different countries, cultures and family preferences.
A quick Maqluba search will tell you there is no one way to make it. Some prefer to use lamb, some prefer chicken and others opt for a no-meat, vegetarian Maqluba.
It can be served layered perfectly intact like a cake. Or mixed up to display the colors and flavors (as shown). That’s the best part of this cuisine: There are no rules.
You, your family or your guests may also appreciate a cold side serving of plain yogurt, fresh salad or citrus tabbouli and even hot sauce to add a piquant touch to the savory spices.
A scrumptious garnish to sprinkle on top could be some of the usual Middle Eastern toppings which include freshly-chopped parsley and whole or sliced, fried almonds. It goes perfectly with the rice. (Or with anything, really.)
- A 4-5 lb Whole chicken (larger if you’re serving a larger crowd)
- A bundle of Cauliflower (more/less as desired)
- 4-5 Clean and peeled Russet Potatoes
- 3-4 Clean and peeled Carrots
- 1 Tbs Adobo all seasoning for rice & 1 Tbs for chicken
- 1 Tbs Black pepper for rice & 1 Tbs for chicken
- 1 Tbs Cinnamon for rice & 1 Tbs for chicken
- 1 Tbs 7spices for rice & 1 Tbs for chicken
- 1 Tbs Garlic powder for rice & 1 Tbs for chicken
- 1 small onion (or half)
- 2-3 cups of Basmati Rice (as needed)
- 2-3 Tbs Butter, vegetable oil OR “Ghazal Butter” (الغزال سمنة)
- 1 Tbs Sazon Spice– (Make it yourself with equal parts of: salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, dried ground coriander seed, cumin, oregano and ground annatto seeds) or use 1 ready-made pack
- 1 Tbs Cumin for rice & 1 Tbs for chicken
- 1 Tbs Fresh minced garlic
- A handful of Freshly-chopped parsley and handful of sliced & fried almonds (sprinkled on top for serving)
- Sides: Fresh plain Yogurt; Salad, fattoush or tabbouli, and some hot sauce for anyone who loves an extra kick!
(1) Soak the Rice; Prepare & Fry Vegetables:
- Desired amt of rice cups (I usually make 2-3 for my family of 3!)
- Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes
- Cut up the vegetables that you want to use: Cauliflower, potatoes, carrots. (You can also use eggplant, tomatoes, or other veggies)
- Deep fry vegetables in Canola Oil
- Use napkins when removing to absorb oil (Or be fancy and use an oil absorbing sheet )
- Cover and set aside for later.
(2) Season & Mix Rice:
- Drain and add spices: Adobo all seasoning, Black pepper, Cinnamon, 7spices, Garlic powder, Sazon, Cumin.
- Mix well.
- Set aside.
*(Other spices you can add are: All Spice, Coriander, Chicken Broth Spice, Turmeric – Salt isn’t usually necessary because some of these spices already include salt.)
(3) Chicken Time!
- Cut up whole chicken and remove skin.
- Clean chicken pieces with vinegar, water & flour. (I prefer to do this although many people will say it is completely unnecessary! To each their own)
- Cut up ½ or less of an onion
- Put butter or vegetable oil (Crisco) or (الغزال سمنة) and add onions until fragrant and caramelized in large pot.
- Add the chicken pieces to the pot.
- Add: Adobo all seasoning, Black pepper, Cinnamon, 7spices, Garlic powder, Sawzon, Cumin and minced garlic. Leave until spices are fragrant; then fill the pot with water so that the chicken is submerged in water.
- Let it cook until chicken is done (approx 1 hour).
- KEEP the water (the chicken broth) that you used to cook chicken in. Drain and set aside into another bowl.
* You can also remove the onions if you prefer no onions in the final dish.
- Add the fried vegetables to the pot first; It’s best if they are on the bottom layer, with chicken over it.
- Then, add the uncooked rice. Add chicken broth. Make sure the chicken broth is covering the rice, add a little bit more water if needed.
- Cook on high until it boils. Then simmer covered until all water is gone; approx 30 minutes.
- Make sure your rice is thoroughly cooked before flipping!
- Cover with a serving tray and flip your pot upside down. Make sure to use oven mitts! You can choose to keep the Maqluba perfectly intact (in the shape of the pot it was cooked in-probably the more “proper” way) or you can flatten to better display all the ingredients.
(5) Complete & serve:
- Chop your fresh (and washed) parsley off the stems.
- Lightly fry your sliced almonds in a pan; Remove from oil at a light-brown color (they will continue to darken once removed from oil and burnt almonds are never tasty). If you are using whole almonds, remember to boil first and remove skin before frying.
- Sprinkle your parsley and almonds evenly all over your tray (or as a topping for your cake-like Maqluba!) for an extra crunch in every bite.
- Serve with yogurt, salad, hot sauce on the side.
Are you salivating yet? We hope you enjoyed this recipe! If you decide to make this, share your feedback in the comments below or tag us in your photo on social media! We adore our followers and their photos. We would love to read how you customized it to make it yours.