Maqluba, also spelled as Maqlouba or Maqloubeh or Maqlooba, is a traditional Middle Eastern dish that originates from the Levant region, which includes countries like Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The name "maqluba" translates to "upside down" in Arabic, which describes the cooking technique used to create this dish.
Maqluba is essentially a one-pot dish made by layering ingredients such as rice, vegetables (often eggplant, cauliflower, and potatoes), and meat (chicken, lamb, or sometimes beef) in a pot. The layers are then cooked together until the ingredients are tender and fully cooked. After cooking, the pot is flipped over onto a serving platter, revealing the beautiful layers with the rice on top and the meat and vegetables underneath. This presentation is what gives the dish its name, as the pot is turned "upside down" during serving.
The dish is seasoned with a blend of spices, such as cumin, coriander, and turmeric, which gives it a flavorful and aromatic taste. It's a hearty and comforting dish that's often enjoyed during special occasions and gatherings, as it's not only delicious but also visually impressive when served.
Maqluba is a versatile dish, and variations of it can be found across different countries and regions. The choice of vegetables, meat, and spices can vary based on local preferences and ingredients. It's a dish that reflects the rich culinary heritage of the Middle East and continues to be cherished by many for its taste and cultural significance.
Crafting the delectable Chicken Maqluba is a process that unfolds in three essential steps, each contributing to the dish's irresistible flavors.
First step starts by marinating succulent chicken thighs with a harmonious blend of oil, crushed coriander, paprika, salt, pepper, and cumin. This initial step infuses the meat with layers of taste that will later come to life.
The second steps involve the careful orchestration of the chicken's cooking process. In a pot, sauté chopped onions before introducing the marinated chicken. To this delightful mix, add the fragrant touch of bay leaves, cardamom pods, turmeric, and a cinnamon stick. A gentle pour of water creates a simmering symphony that melds the ingredients together.
The third and final act culminates in the assembly of the dish. Sliced eggplants and potatoes, previously fried to golden perfection, form a foundation in a wide pot. Atop this canvas, layers of marinated chicken and washed basmati rice take their place. The ensemble is brought to life with the addition of the chicken stock, transforming the ingredients into a harmonious masterpiece. As the final notes of this culinary performance, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and toasted almonds grace the dish, delivering both visual allure and an extra layer of flavor. The result is a Chicken Maqluba that stands as a testament to the art of blending tastes, textures, and traditions.
The complete step by step recipe is below + in the video.
In this recipe I use 2 types of vegetables:
Although I used only eggplants and potatoes, Maqluba is a versatile dish that can be prepared with various vegetables based on your preferences and availability. While the traditional vegetables used in Maqluba include eggplants, potatoes, and sometimes cauliflower, you can experiment with different options to suit your taste. Here are some vegetables that work well in Maqluba:
Remember to adjust the cooking times for each vegetable based on their texture and water content. The key is to choose a combination of vegetables that you enjoy and that complement the overall flavors of the dish.
Various types of meat can be used to make Maqluba, depending on your preferences and dietary restrictions. Traditionally, bone-in and skin-on cuts of meat are often used to enhance the flavor of the dish. Here are some common meat options for making Maqluba:
It's important to adjust the cooking times based on the type of meat and cut you choose. Bone-in cuts generally require longer cooking to become tender and impart their flavor to the dish. Additionally, consider the overall flavor profile you want to achieve and choose a meat that complements the spices and vegetables used in the Maqluba.
For Maqluba, it's best to use a long-grain rice variety that is known for its ability to remain separate and fluffy when cooked. The goal is to have rice grains that hold their shape and don't turn mushy, as this helps maintain the distinct layers of the dish. Basmati rice is the most commonly used and highly recommended rice for making Maqluba due to its characteristics:
When preparing Maqluba, be sure to rinse the rice thoroughly before using it to remove excess starch, which can cause the rice to become sticky. Additionally, adjust the amount of water you use to cook the rice based on the brand and variety you have, as different rice brands may require slightly different water-to-rice ratios.
Ultimately, using high-quality basmati rice will contribute to the success of your Maqluba dish by ensuring that the rice layers remain distinct and delicious.
Spices play a crucial role in giving Maqluba its distinct and flavorful taste. Here are some common spices used to season Maqluba:
Remember that the key to a well-balanced Maqluba is finding the right combination of spices that suits your taste preferences. Adjust the quantities based on your personal preferences for flavor intensity. The spices should work harmoniously to create a rich and aromatic dish that embodies the essence of Middle Eastern cuisine.
To create the best Maqluba, follow these tips to ensure a flavorful, visually appealing, and perfectly cooked dish:
Remember that cooking is a creative process, and the more you practice making Maqluba, the better you'll become at achieving the perfect balance of flavors, textures, and presentation.
For the chicken:
For the vegetables: