I love Maqluba, the name literally translates as ‘upside down’ since it is a one pot dish that when done is flipped over on a big plate.
It 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.
When I was growing up, my aunt Huda lived in Jabal Elwebdieh, one of the seven hills Amman is built on.
Her apartment building was on a steep street, up a steep driveway that led to a steep set of stairs.
I was always amazed that the flat itself was level given all the angles leading up to it!
She made the best maklouba, with just the right mix of eggplant, meat and rice.
On my plate I’d top it with yogurt and salad as is traditionally done, enjoying every last bite.
What is Maqluba?
Maqluba is traditional Syrian, Iraqi, Palestinian, and Jordanian dish.
The dish consists of meat, rice, and fried vegetables placed in a pot.
Maqluba is flipped upside down when served in reference to its name which translates to “upside-down”.
The dish is many centuries old and is often theorized to have been discovered in the 13th century.
The types vegetables often included in Maklouba are cauliflower and eggplant.
Other vegetables added are usually based on what the cook has in the home at that time which can be things potatoes or carrots.
The meats that are commonly in Maklouba are chicken or lamb.
To garnish Maklouba, it is best to add pine nuts and chopped fresh parsley.
Whatever side you make it should be decently large because this recipe is made for feasts.
How to Make Maqluba
To start with, lay the lamb chops out on a tray and season with salt and pepper.
Place these in the oven and roast until brown.
Slice the eggplant and brush with olive oil.
Again, bake these in the oven until brown.
In a bowl, mix the rice with the spices and the salt until well combined.
Once you have all these components, it’s time to construct your Maqluba!
First, layer the lamb chops at the bottom of a large pot.
Place the eggplant as the next layer.
Next, pour your rice mixture into the pot.
Finally, add 5 cups of water – it’s best to use hot water!
Cook over a medium high heat until you get a consistent boil.
Then lower the temperature to a simmer and cover the pot, leaving a generous gap for steam to escape.
After around 30 minutes, your Maqluba should be cooked!
To test, make sure all the water has cooked off and the rice is fluffy and tender.
How to Serve Maqluba
Now comes the fun part!
Get a large serving platter 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.
With careful dexterity, gently lift your pot to reveal your Maqluba!
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 substantial.
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 is pour some olive oil in the 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 even less oil absorption.
It’s up to your individual taste.
This can be a show stopping dish when it comes time to serve it.
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!
- 1 Eggplant
- 10 Lamb Chops
- 2 cups Short Grain Rice
- 1 tbsp Seven Spices
- 2 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Black Pepper
- 5 cups Hot Water
- ¼ cup Pine Nuts
- Olive oil
Equipment I Used:
- Preheat the oven to 390°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!