Maqluba (Upside Down Lamb & Rice)


Out of all of the many recipes I make, I love Maqluba the most for its simplicity and flavor.

Maqluba means ‘upside down’ being a one pot dish that when done is flipped over on a big plate.

This classic Middle Eastern recipe can be spelt in a variety of ways: Maqluba, Maklouba or Maqlooba.

It is a total comfort food to me that brings with it many memories of being a kid.

I guarantee you’ll love this maqluba recipe as much as I do.

What is Maqluba?


Maqluba is a traditional Syrian, Iraqi, Palestinian, and Jordanian dish.

The dish consists of meat, rice, and fried (or baked) vegetables placed in a pot.

After cooking, this pot is flipped upside down and served, turning the contents over giving it a layered appearance.

It is many centuries old and is often theorized to have been invented in the 13th century.

The types of vegetables most often included in this rice dish are cauliflower and eggplant.

Other vegetables added are usually based on what the cook has in the home at the time, which can be things like potatoes or carrots.

The meats that are commonly used in Maklouba are chicken or lamb; eggplant paired with lamb, and cauliflower with chicken.

To garnish Maklouba, it is best to add toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds along with chopped fresh parsley.

Great side dishes to include with this recipe are a simple salad or a yogurt based sauce.

The simple salad I mentioned is usually a Jerusalem Salad, something without leaves.

As far as the yogurt sauce goes, this could be anything from plain yogurt, to a cucumber, mint and yogurt sauce. 

Whatever sides you make should be appropriately large because this recipe is made for feasts.

It is the perfect dish when you have lots of mouths to feed, because you can always add to the recipe.

It is a dish that you can make on relatively short order, and it is definitely a crowd pleaser.

How to Make Maqluba


I begin by slicing the eggplant in rounds.

Traditionally the eggplant is fried, but as you may know eggplant loves sucking up liquid, and when fried becomes utterly greasy.

Very tasty, but very greasy.

What I like to do instead is pour some olive oil in a large pan and then dip each side of the eggplant round just so it soaks up a bit of oil.

You can also use a pastry brush if you prefer for even less oil absorption.

It’s up to your individual taste.

You can also use paper towels to remove any additional oil on the eggplant if desired.


Bake these in the oven for around 20 minutes or until brown.

Lay the lamb chops out on a tray and season with salt and pepper.

Place these in the oven and roast until brown, set aside.

In a bowl, mix the rice with the spice mix and a teaspoon of salt until well combined.


Once you have all these components, it’s time to construct your dish!

First, layer the lamb chops at the bottom of a large pot, place the eggplant slices as the next layer.

Next, pour your rice over the vegetables into the pot.

I like to use short grain rice, but people do use basmati rice as well as other long grain varieties.

Add a heatproof plate on top of the rice to keep the ingredients from floating.

Finally, add the cups of water (or chicken broth) – it’s best to use hot water to give you a headstart!

Sometimes people add bay leaves to the water and remove them later.

Cook over a medium high heat and bring to a boil, until you get a consistent boil.

Then lower the temperature to a simmer and cover the pot, leaving a small gap for steam to escape.

Remove the plate after about 10 minutes.

After around 30 minutes, your dish should be cooked!

To test, make sure all the water has cooked off and the rice is fluffy and tender.

How to Serve It

Now comes the fun part!

Get a large plate and place it over the top of your pot.

In one swift motion, using oven mitts, hold the pot handles against the platter and flip your pot so it is now upside down.

Let the pot settle for a minute, then with careful dexterity, gently lift your pot to reveal your wonder!

There are a couple of variations with this dish, one is made with lamb and eggplant, and the other with chicken and cauliflower.

You can also make a vegetarian version by using canned chickpeas as a substitute for the meat if you want.

I prefer the lamb and eggplant version, it feels and tastes so much more a substantial meal.

This can be a show stopping dish when it comes time to serve it, so make sure your guests watch.

I prefer the lamb and eggplant version, it feels and tastes so much more a substantial meal.

This can be a show stopping dish when it comes time to serve it, so make sure your guests watch.

As you lift the pot off the food to unveil your masterpiece to your guests you always feel a bit of magic!

Enjoy the substantial flavors, and little bit of drama this food provides!

Tips for Making

  • Greasing the pot and using a circular piece of parchment paper will ensure easier removal once flipped upside down.
  • Make sure the eggplant is cooked through properly and browned. This will act as a seal between the rice and the meat.
  • Use a heavy bottom pot with low set handles. So when you come to flipping, a plate will fit flat against the pot top and not be obstructed by the handles.
  • When flipping, be confident! Make sure you have a good grip on both the plate and pot handles before attempting. Do a quick, controlled flip and place down gently.
  • After flipping, you should hear the contents of your dish drop onto the plate. If it doesn’t, knock on the bottom of the pot to loosen it.

Maqluba Recipe

Out of all of the many recipes I make, I love Maqluba the most for its simplicity and flavor.
Leave a rating!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: Eggplant, Lamb, One Pot
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 509kcal
Author: Chef Tariq


  • 1 Eggplant sliced
  • 10 Lamb Chops
  • 2 cups Short Grain Rice
  • 1 tbsp Seven Spices
  • tsp Salt a little extra for chops
  • ½ tsp Black Pepper a little extra for chops
  • 5 cups Water hot
  • ¼ cup Pine Nuts optional
  • Olive oil


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Slice the eggplant into 2cm thick pieces.
  • On a baking tray, put a generous glug of olive oil. Take a slice of eggplant and dip it in the oil, then turning over and dipping again until well covered. Place on the baking tray and repeat for all eggplant slices. Use more olive oil if needed. Bake in the oven until brown.
  • On another baking tray, place the lamb chops. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until brown.
  • In a bowl, add the rice, seven spices, salt and pepper. Mix together. 
  • Grab a deep pot and cut out a circular piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom. Spray the bottom of the bottom with oil and place in your parchment paper.
  • Add in your cooked lamb chops, followed by your cooked eggplant slices and then pour over your uncooked rice mixture.
  • Add 5 cups of hot water.
  • Bring to a boil, half cover with the lid and reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 20 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Remove the lid.
  • Find a large flat plate and place it on top of the pot. Holding onto the plate and pot handles, quickly lift and flip upside down. 
  • Lift the pot up to reveal your Maklouba and remove the parchment paper.
  • Sprinkle pine nuts over and enjoy!



Calories: 509kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 691mg | Potassium: 735mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 13IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 6mg

Have you made this recipe? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.


Similar Posts


  1. Easy to prepare.The outcome was fragrant and delicious and successful! My husband said, “I’ll bet no other family on this street is eating this well tonight!” I served it with Bulgarian Tarator. Some of the rice drifted to the bottom under the parchment and got scorched and stuck to the pan. It took longer for the rice to finish cooking. When I flipped the pan the chops were not on top but more underneath a rice layer. Suggestions for making it turn out looking more like yours?

    1. Hello Bev!

      Thank you so much for your message, and thank you for letting me know how your maqluba turned out. I am delighted to know that you enjoyed the meal! At the end of the day looks are only ‘skin deep’ so as long as it tasted good that is definitely a win. Drifting rice can always be an issue with this dish, and boiling times can be determined by several factors. However, your description of how it went tells me a couple of things. One is temperature, it’s important not to cook at too high of a heat and this can vary from stove to stove. The other thing is not to vigorously boil the ingredients. As soon as the water comes to a boil turn down to a simmer to avoid dislodging things. Once your maqluba is constructed and before you add the water put a heatproof plate on top of the ingredients and then add the water/broth. Once on the heat and the water has decided to the level of the rice, take out the plate so that the rice cooks through properly. If the rice seems a little underdone at the end, simply add some boiling water to the pot and cover while cooking on a low heat. I hope this helps. If you have anymore questions please let me know and I will help walk you through the process.
      Best regards,
      Chef Tariq

      1. Thank you for your helpful suggestions, Chef Tariq, particularly about getting the rice on top to cook thoroughly. The very low range on my gas burners is temperamental and hard to calibrate. I have to turn the knob to lower than “Lo” to avoid overcooking the bottom whenever I make plain rice. That’s a balancing act between keeping the flame low and keeping it from extinguishing! I’m motivated to try it again employing your suggestions for better results..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating