Maklouba is a delicious Egyptian dish made from chicken cooked with whole wheat pastry and stuffed with vegetables. It’s one of the most popular dishes in the diet of the people of Egypt, and it’s very easy to make at home.
There are few ways to enjoy Lebanese food, and the best way is the traditional way by making maklouba. It is a traditional food in Lebanese cuisine, and it is always served during holidays and special occasions. You can make it with meat, fish, using vegetables you can find in your garden or you can even switch it with chicken and vegetables as a healthy meal.
Maklouba is a Tunisian tagine-like dish made with chicken and vegetables stewed in a sauce topped off with a garnish of crushed almonds, fried onions, parsley, and olive oil. This easy chicken maklouba recipe is easy to make, and can be served as a main course, side dish, or as a first course for a party.
Jordan, like many of its Levantine neighbors, is renowned for its dips and small, delicious meals known as mezze. Meals begin with a dizzying variety of alternatives, scattered on the table in bowls and cleaned up with fresh pita or saj breads. Mouttabal to tabouli, hummus, labne yoghurt, and a range of other rich and creamy appetizers, each having its own unique flavor yet effortlessly blending into a crescendo of flavors one after the other.
Starting each meal with a sensory assault sounded extravagant at first, but it soon became the standard, allowing the more complex, show-worthy main dishes — like maklouba — to take center stage.
The completed project!
Maglouba is a Jordanian word that may also be written magloubeh, maglouba, maqluba, makloubeh, and ma’aloubeh. Its roots are in the Middle East in general, not only Jordan. This dish was taught to me by a Jordanian cook, although there are variations in Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere.
Maklouba seems to have originated in a medieval Arabic cooking book, but the meal is now popular across the Middle East.
In Olives, Lemons & Za’atar: The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking, chef and author Rawia Bishara refers to the dish – spelled makloobeh there – as “the impressive Palestinian lamb dish meant to serve a crowd.”
Makloubeh is referred to be a popular dish in Jordan, Syria, and the Levant in all guidebooks, although there is no literature on its origin.
“Makloubeh is a wonderful rice dish prevalent across the Middle East,” says John Gregory-Smith in his May 2019 cookbook Saffron in the Souks: Vibrant dishes from the heart of Lebanon.
The dish’s origin is simply described as “Middle East,” according to Wikipedia, who also adds that it dates back centuries and may be found in the Kitab al-Tabikh, a compilation of 13th century recipes.
One thing is certain: the dish, which may or may not be from Baghdad, is a popular meal in the Middle East today.
The term maklouba, which means “upside down” in Arabic, refers to the dish’s primary features: roasted veggies, seasoned rice, and a meat of choice are served upside down after gently turning the pot over.
Maklouba is pre-cooked in parts, as seen in the recipe below. Vegetables come first, followed by rice and a blend of typical Middle Eastern flavors. After being carefully piled into a pot and cooked over the fire, the whole thing is turned upside down on a platter to show the patterns of meat and vegetables underneath. The rice, which is accustomed to being served on its own dish, is demoted to second place. Rice, I’m sorry! The combination of chicken, eggplant, and cauliflower is just too delicious to pass up.
It’s not a difficult meal to prepare, but it does take some time. However, presentation is crucial: you want a tidy mound of veggies and meat to look at as you up-end the pot as you serve the meal.
It’s also important not to spill everything out when you turn the pot over; let’s just say the first time I attempted this at home, the first iteration ended up on the floor.
Ingredients in the recipe’s spices
It’s been fascinating to test out various maklouba recipes, creating a tapestry of colors and textures that is only apparent when I turn the dish over. I’ve tried it by first cooking the onions with turmeric to turn them golden before adding the rice. Another variation added eggplant skin curls to give the finished product a purple hue. There’s a lot of space for imagination here!
Maklouba Recipe Made Simple
- 1 onion
- 2 eggplants (medium size)
- 1 floret of cauliflower, sliced into tiny pieces
- 1 kg diced or chopped into pieces meat (chicken, lamb, or beef)
- 2 cups uncooked rice
- garlic cloves (four)
- turmeric powder, 2 tsp
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Baharat (“seven spices”) Note: Most Middle Eastern stores have this, but if they don’t, you can create your own. Black pepper, paprika, cumin, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom are all ground spices in the 7 spice mixture. If you’re preparing your own, go easy on the cardamom – it’s very potent!
- bay leaves (two)
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 200 milliliters of vegetable oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- Sliced almonds and pine nuts are optional.
PART 1: Getting Started:
- The eggplant should be peeled and sliced into thick horizontal slices, then marinated in salt for 2 minutes. Drain the eggplant slices on paper towels after washing them in water to remove the salt.
- Soak 2 cups rice in warm water for 30 minutes with two pinches of salt and 2 tablespoons turmeric powder. (Note: After 30 minutes, drain the rice and set it for Part 2 below.) Please strain after 30 minutes if the time does not line up).
- Cook the cauliflower florets and eggplant slices till brown in a large pot with vegetable oil. Drain any extra oil from the fried veggies in a colander fitted with paper towels. Note: For a healthy option, spray the florets and eggplant slices with olive oil and roast until golden brown at 400F/200C.
- Heat the almond pieces and pine nuts in the same pan until they are golden brown. Save it for a later date.
- Fill a big saucepan halfway with water and add the meat. Cook until the meat is done, about 30 minutes, by adding an onion cut into quarters, bay leaves, and the 7 spice combination.
- Remove the meat and season it with salt, reserving the liquid in a dish for later.
PART 2: It’s time to start making your maklouba:
- Layer the cauliflower florets and eggplant in the bottom of the big pot (the one you used to cook the chicken) in a preferred arrangement, then add the chicken pieces as a third layer.
- Place the garlic cloves on top of the chicken, followed by the strained, uncooked rice.
- Season the chicken stock with salt, turmeric powder, and cumin powder, and then pour it over the chicken-veggie mound you’ve just created. Make sure the sauce just comes halfway up the rice (2cm over the rice is ideal).
- Cook for 7 minutes on high heat, then cover and cook for another 40-45 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes once the water has completely evaporated (and the rice is thoroughly cooked).
- Transfer the pot to a serving dish and remove it gently and carefully, leaving your masterpiece in its wake.
- Serve with fresh parsley and fried nuts as a garnish.
Looking for more delicious Middle Eastern recipes?
These cookbooks come highly recommended by me:
- Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food
- Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by powerhouse duo Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
- Olives, Lemons & Za’atar: The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking, by Rawia Bishara
- Eden Grinshpan’s Eating Out Loud: Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day
- Yasmin Khan’s Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen
- Adeena Sussman’s Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen
- Bavel: Modern Recipes Inspired by the Middle East, by Ori Menashe, Genevieve Gergis, & Lesley Suter
- Falastin: A Cookbook, by Sami Tamimi & Tara Wigley
Please send pictures to jodi-at-legalnomads.com if anybody tries this at home. – I’m looking forward to seeing what interesting upside-down delicacies you come up with! -Jodi
Have a taste for the exotic but don’t fancy heading to the Middle East? Try this Maklouba recipe: Ingredients: Chicken (4 pieces) 1 tsp. Olive oil 4 cloves garlic 1 tomato 1 small onion 1 green pepper 2 cups diced tomatoes 1/2 cup rice 1 tsp. salt Fresh ground black pepper Method: Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the cubed chicken. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, until browned. Set aside. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, rice to the tomato. Stir well to combine. Add the chicken back to the pan. Cook on medium heat for 3 minutes. Read more about makloubeh cauliflower with rice recipe and let us know what you think.