Every time we have Maqlouba, you can hear the hearts beating loudly with excitement just before serving. This layered rice pot is actually turned upside down out of the pot onto a serving platter and is supposed to keep its shape nicely. This definitely takes a lot of practice – or just plain luck 😀
The name Maqlouba (or Maqlooba) actually says a lot about this delicious rice dish with fried aubergines, cauliflower and tender chicken. In Arabic, the name means “upside down” or ” turned upside down”. And the name is actually what it says here.
Maqlouba: a delicacy layer by layer
If you’re in a hurry, you’d better look for another recipe. Maqlouba takes some time and is perfect for a cosy Sunday with the family. First you make a delicious chicken broth yourself. Meanwhile, aubergines and cauliflower are fried in hot oil until golden brown. And finally the basmati rice, wonderfully refined with all kinds of spices, has to be prepared for its appearance. I admit, these are some steps that have to be taken. Fortunately, however, it is all quite easy. Maqlouba is no witchcraft – at least not in the preparation.
Once you’ve got everything ready, you layer everything neatly on top of each other in the pot. And here’s why there can’t be any small portions of Maqlouba. The pot must be so full that you can easily tip it upside down after cooking. And all this without making a mess in the kitchen or throwing food in your loved ones’ faces (it all happened…).
Hey, don’t go running off again. I’m just exaggerating. Maqlouba is worth every effort. When you sit at the table and the dish is on your plate, no matter what, the taste rewards you and you float on the 7th aroma cloud. Before I made Maqlouba for the first time, I always wondered how the spices were best spread out so that everything could be spread everywhere. My mother has a great trick here: you mix the spices (cardamom, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, coriander seeds, turmeric) with the washed rice and the aroma fireworks will spread by themselves in the pot.
The critical moment
When you finish the rice pot, your heroic moment has come. Serving the maqlouba is always such an exciting thing, that it always happens in our kitchen with the whole family gathered around the table. The lid comes off the pot, the serving dish is placed directly on the lid and 3, 2, 1: Tilt! Before the pot is taken up, we all stare at each other in excitement. And no matter how it looks like then: It will taste fantastic.
Recipe for Maqlouba: Levantine layered rice pot
- Pot with 3 L capacity
For the chicken & broth
- 600 g Chicken thighs
- 2 tbsp Olive oil for frying
- 1,5 Liter Water
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 1 Onion
- 2 Bay leaves
- 3 Cloves
- 1 Star Anise
- 3 Grains Allspice
- 1 Pod Cardamom
For the vegetables
- 1 Aubergine (approx. 250 g)
- 1/2 Cauliflower (about 500 g)
- 1 beef tomato
- 1/2 Liter Frying oil
For the rice mixture
- 300 g Basmati rice
- 600 ml Chicken broth (you make it yourself in the recipe)
- 2 tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 Cloves ground
- 1,5 tsp Cardamom ground
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Cinnamon ground
- 1 tsp Coriander seeds ground
- 1 tsp Allspice ground
- 500 g Yoghurt
Chicken & Broth
- Wash the chicken and pat dry. Halve onion with skin.
- Heat olive oil in a large pot and fry the chicken thighs & onion halves for about 5 minutes on both sides.
- Add 1.5 litres of water to the chicken, add the spices and simmer for about 30 minutes with the lid closed, then save 600 ml of the broth.
- Separate the cauliflower into small florets. Cut aubergine into finger-thick slices.
- Lay out aubergine slices on kitchen paper, salt them on both sides and leave them for 5 minutes. Then dab the water off the cut surfaces.
- Heat the frying oil in a pot or deep fryer to approx. 180 °C and fry the cauliflower and aubergine for approx. 5 minutes until golden brown. Drain both afterwards on kitchen paper and salt lightly.
- Wash the basmati rice until the water is clear. To do this, place the rice in a bowl and cover with plenty of water, then drain the milky water. Repeat until the water is clear. Then pour off the water completely.
- Mix the wet rice properly with the spices.
- Cut the beef tomato into slices and cover the bottom of the pot with them.
- Now layer the deep-fried vegetables, the chicken and the rice one after the other in the pot and add 600 ml of the homemade chicken stock and let it boil up for about 3 minutes.
- Put the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to the lowest level. Let Maqlube cook for about 35 – 40 minutes with the lid closed.
- Let the finished maqlouba sit for about 10 minutes with the lid open and the stove turned off, then place a serving dish on the pot and quickly but carefully turn the pot with the serving dish upside down.
- Lift the pot carefully and serve the maqlouba on the serving dish. Serve with fresh yoghurt.