This Mediterranean classic rice dish is full of aromatic spices, vegetables and succulent meat. The unique specialty is that it's cooked upside down. Maqloobah meaning upside down in Arabic is what sets this dish aside from all others.
Here's my take on a Palestinian classic which my son absolutely loves.
You start by frying up rounds of potatoes, roasting a few bell peppers and slicing rounds of tomatoes and placing them aside.
Then you sauté onions and garlic in a pan and add your choice of meat. This dish can be made with chicken, beef, lamb or even ground meat. I'm using ground lamb because that's what I have on hand for today.
Now you want to brown up your meat adding your spices and cook it until the liquid dries out. Then place it aside and layer your tomatoes in the bottom of a deep large pot.
Next add your meat and pat down really well with a spatula to make an even "cake like" layer. Next layer on your fried, salted potatoes, followed by a layer of your roasted peppers.
**Traditionally eggplant and cauliflower is added to the dish but any veggies can be added to your liking.
You will want to soak your rice for atleast 30 mins then drain and mix in your spices. Now you will want to pat your rice ontop of your veggies then place a small bowl or plate over top. (This helps distribute the broth evenly).
For the broth you want to boil water separately and add tomato paste, salt and pepper. For extra flavor you can use chicken broth or add a chicken boullion cube.
Now bring it to a simmer and then put heat on low and cover. Cook on low heat for 45 mins then turn heat off and let sit for another 10 to 15 mins. Finally on a larger plate or tray than your pot flip carefully and gently lift up your pot to reveal the rice.
Your upside down rice or Maqloobah is ready! Top with some fried nuts, chopped parsley and pomegranates for tartness and enjoy!
Want to make this ahead of time for a crowd? Just layer all the veggies and meat and set aside. An hour before you want to serve it, just add rice and broth and cook through. Fry your nuts and have your garnishes ready in advance too!
Spices for meat:
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp all spice
5 pepper corn
2 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
1/2 tsp cumin
2 to 3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper
Grind fresh and add to oil with:
1 tsp garlic/ginger paste
1/2 lg white onion sliced
1 tsp tomato paste
Once onion is translucent add:
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 lemon juiced
1 tsp vinegar
-Cook just until browned. Strain, keeping liquid and meat and set both liquid and meat aside.
-In a pan fry two white potatoes sliced in oil, seasoning with salt and set aside.
-Turn heat off, drizzle with a little oil and add slices of one large tomato at bottom.
-Then add drained, browned ground lamb and pat down to flatten using spatula.
-Now add slices of fried potato evenly and pat down well.
-Now add an even layer of roasted red bell peppers or veggies of choice, flatten with spatula.
-Presoak 2.5 cups of rice
-Mix presoaked/ drained rice with 1 tsp all spice.
-Add on top of roasted veggies and flatten well with a spatula.
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup pine nuts
Drained, reserved meat liquid
1/2 chicken cube (optional)
3 cups water or chicken stock
-Bring stock to boil, also boil extra water in tea kettle
-Place a small bowl upside down over the very well flattened layers of meat, veggies and rice.
-Slowly pour over the stock on the upside down bowl to avoid making a hole in rice.
-Add more boiling water from kettle if needed.
-Add enough liquid to cover above the rice by the first line of your finger.
-Bring the rice to a simmer, once you see small bubbles put heat on lowest setting, cover and let cook for 45 minutes.
-Turn stove off after 45 minutes and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
-After 15 minutes, place plate over top and carefully flip over.
-Garnish with fried nuts, chopped parsley and pomegranates, serving along side Zaatar/garlic yogurt.
Enjoy it with a cool cucumber salad, hummus and side of delicious warm bread!