Makloubeh (upside down rice, veggies and chicken)
I love that with Makloubeh, you get it all. Veggies, rice, chicken. One pot. One dish. Gorgeous and super easy.
As i’ve mentioned a ton of times before, entertaining is totally my thing. I love having people over and feeding them until they can eat no more! I get this annoying attribute from my mama who got it from her mama. What can i say, it’s in my genes to stuff people with yummy food. So when i host, i look for meals that look visually appealing and pack a punch of flavor. That’s why i love Makloubeh when i have people over for dinner. It’s just so beautiful to serve. Can you just imagine it? layers of golden veggies, super fluffy basmati rice and tender chicken thighs that can be torn apart with a fork? It’s an amazing dish that i look forward to (whether i’m entertaining or not). Honestly, I make this meal pretty often even for just family dinners. You can obviously scale the quantities down because one pot of makloubeh can feed plenty, although it makes incredible leftovers. We eat it for 3 days in a row (no joke!) . For those of you that dont know, the word makloubeh in arabic translates to “flipped upside down” which is exactly what we do to this pot of rice, veggies and chicken. We layer, let cook and then carefully and gracefully flip it onto a large serving platter revealing all of the gorgeous layers.
I want to leave you all with a few tips because while this dish is super easy to put together, it takes a bit of practice and with these tips and tricks, you’ll be an expert in no time.
If you’re not afraid to fry, please go ahead and fry the eggplant and cauliflower instead of baking it. The traditional way to make this dish is to fry the veggies, but the modern version has been adapted to reduce the amount of fried foods we eat so we’ve just started baking them (STILL DELICIOUS) but it is way delicious-er to fry.
When you’re layering your veggies and rice, think of it as an art. You want to be consistent with your layers, careful in how you lay them and clean. After-all, once you flip the pot, your work will be revealed! Don’t be sloppy!
Do not add more liquid than you need. My recipe is quite precise however, some grains of basmati rice will require more (or less liquid). I highly recommend that you give this recipe a try with the quantity of liquid i’ve noted and adapt to the type of rice you use later on. However, you can taste the grain of rice once the liquid has evaporated to make sure that the rice is cooked. If it needs more, add a bit more liquid.
When you’re flipping the pot, hold the serving platter and the pot together closely. You want to flip them TOGETHER so that the pot lands perfectly in the center of the serving platter in one swift motion. This will ensure the layers remain in contact.
You will have leftover liquid from your stock that you won’t use for the makloubeh. What I do is save it in the fridge for another dish that needs some delicious stock!
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield: 8-10 adult servings
for the stock
1. 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2. 3 tsp all spice
3. 10 cups cold water
4. 3 cardamom pods
5. 2 bay leaves
6. 2 cinnamon sticks
7. Salt to taste
for the dish
1. 1 large eggplant
2. 1 head of cauliflower
3. olive oil for brushing on eggplant & cauliflower
4. 2 cups basmati rice
5. 1 tsp all spice
6. 2 tsp ground cumin
7. 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
8. 1/2 tsp ground chili powder
9. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
10. 2 tsp salt
11. 5 1/2 cups stock (from the stock you made- instructions in this recipe)
11. 2 large tomatoes, sliced into disks
for the topping
1. 1/4 cup slivered almonds
2. 1/4 cup raw cashews
3. 2 tbsp vegetable oil
4. 3 tbsp chopped parsley
1. Season the chicken thighs generously with salt & all spice.
2. Place the chicken thighs in a large stock pot with cold water, cardamom pods, bay leaves, and sticks of cinnamon. Bring your stock to a rolling boil and drop the temperature so you maintain a simmer for 30-45 minutes.
3. While the chicken stock is cooking, preheat an oven to 400 degrees.
4. Slice the eggplants into 1 inch round disks and chop the cauliflower into florets.
5. in 2 separate baking sheets, use one for the eggplant and one for the cauliflower. Lay the eggplant rounds flat on the baking sheet, dust with salt, let sit for 2 minutes and dab any water that appears on the surface of the eggplants.
6. Once you’ve dabbed access water from the eggplant, brush both the eggplants & the cauliflower with oil and place both trays into the oven for 25 minutes. Flipping halfway through. Remove the eggplant and cauliflower after baking for 25 minutes. They should have a golden brown color around the outsides. Do not worry about ensuring they are completely cooked through. They will be cooked again with the rice.
7. Rinse the rice and drain. Mix in the spices with the drained rice- salt, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, chili powder, cardamom. Mix to ensure no clumps of spices.
8. Begin layering the makloubeh in a deep pot. Begin by laying the tomatoes down at the bottom of the pot. With each layer that you do, you want to ensure that it’s evenly spread and covering the bottom so that when flipped upside down at the end, each layer is visible. Next, remove the chicken from the pot and place them evenly over the tomatoes. The next layer to lay is the eggplant. Place the eggplant slices over the tomatoes. The eggplants can slightly creep over the sides of the pot and do not need to be laid flat. After the eggplants lay the cauliflower as a layer. Follow the cauliflower with the spiced rice.
8. After laying the rice in an even and flat layer over the rest of the layered chicken & vegetables, measure 5 1/2 cups of stock (that you made) and pour carefully and gently over the rice, chicken and veggies. Do so carefully as not to disturb the layers you’ve built.
9. Season once more with a sprinkle of salt and cover the pot with the lid. Set the stove to low and let the rice and veggies cook for 35-40 minutes. Once the water has evaporated and rice is tender, turn the stove off, leave the lid on and allow the steam to finish cooking the veggies for an additional 10 minutes.
10. While the steam is finishing the makloubeh, shallow fry the nuts by heating a skillet on the stove and adding the oil. Place the nuts in the hot oil and stir constantly to ensure none of the nuts burn and that they maintain a golden color. Remove as soon as the golden color begins to darken. Be attentive at this step as they can burn very easily!
11. Once ready to serve the makloubeh, remove the lid and place a large tray or serving dish (PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT THE SERVING DISH OR PLATTER YOU USE WILL BE THE VEHICLE THAT THE FULL POT OF CHICKEN, VEGGIES AND RICE WILL BE FLIPPED INTO, SO IT MUST BE DEEP ENOUGH TO HOLD EVERYTHING TOGETHER AND LARGER THAN THE POT THEY WERE COOKED IN.) over the pot and using oven mitts, hold the serving platter and the pot together closely and using one quick motion, flip both over so that the pot of rice lands over the serving platter. Hold the pot over the platter (upside down) for approximately 1 minute and tap the bottom of the pot a few times to release anything that has stuck. Carefully pull up the pot revealing the beautiful layers of chicken, veggies and rice.
12. Top the makloubeh with the fried nuts & parsley. Serve with yogurt and enjoy!