A Peak Inside My Middle Eastern Kitchen :: Maqluba

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In light of the times we are living in, I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring us all together over some warm food to welcome the new year. A virtual breaking of bread if you will. Below, you will find a staple of Middle Eastern dishes that are eaten across the area quite regularly, particularly in Jordan.

Maqluba

Maqluba literally translates to upside down. It is a Middle Eastern rice dish that is cooked with chicken, fried potatoes, fried eggplant, fried cauliflower, and an array of warm spices. It is called upside down because it is cooked all together in a pot and served by flipping it over onto a pot. You get extra points if yours stays standing.

INGREDIENTS:

  •  1medium eggplant (1 pound)

  • Salt

  • 3 ½pounds bone-in chicken pieces

  • 1 ½teaspoons ground black pepper

  • 1teaspoon ground cumin

  • 6cloves

  • 6green cardamom pods

  • 2 ½cups long-grain rice, rinsed well and drained (Basmati preferred)

  • Vegetable oil for frying

  • 2 medium potatoes, 1/2-inch slices

  • 1 medium-head cauliflower, in florets

  • 1teaspoon ground turmeric

  • ¾teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice

  • ¼teaspoon ground cloves

  • 2 Chicken cubes

STEPS

  1. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons. Season well with salt and let sit 30 minutes. Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the rice. Soak for 10 minutes, then drain well.
  2.  Place the chicken in a large pot and season well with salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground cumin, cloves, and cardamom pods. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 4 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, covered over high heat, then turn down to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Drain the chicken, keeping the broth and discarding the onion and spices.
  3. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Fry cauliflower, potatoes, and eggplant (make sure to pat down with paper towels) slices until golden. Drain on paper towels. Set to the side.
  4. Pour out the oil, keeping 2 1/2 tablespoons in the pan. Add the drained rice and cook, stirring, to dry it out, about 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, the turmeric, cinnamon, allspice, and ground cloves.
  5. Place the chicken back in the pot, skin side down. Place the fried vegetables on top, then rice. Pour in 4 cups of the chicken broth and add the 2 chicken cubes to it. Press down on the rice; add more broth or water if needed to bring the liquid barely to the level of the rice. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat, then turn it down to medium low. After 10 minutes, carefully stir just the rice to evenly combine the harder rice on top. Be careful not to stir down to the vegetables or chicken. Those should stay at the bottom. Place on low heat till the rice is completely cooked (about 30 minutes).
  6. When rice appears to be fully cooked, place a large serving dish on top of the pot. Then, protecting your hand, invert the pot onto the dish in one smooth motion. If there is liquid seeping out, spoon it out or soak it up with paper towels. Let the pot rest at least 5 minutes.
  7. Lift the pot up slowly and try to snap a picture before it topples. That way you can post it on social media and show your superior Middle Eastern cooking skills. Believe me, it is a right of passage. Enjoy! Or, as we say, Sahtain! ????

** In Middle Eastern cuisine, this is normally eaten alongside salad tossed in lemon, salt, and olive oil or plain yogurt.

Maqluba Middle Eastern rice dish

 

 

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Alia is a stay at home mom with one daughter, Hanna (2017) and a baby boy due in July (2019). She comes from a huge family on both sides, so loud dinners and get togethers are my thing! She is a native of Memphis and has a degree in Sociology and Women’s Studies from the University of Memphis. Go Tigers! She loves to go out to the occasional dinner and a movie, but quite frankly, is more of a homebody. Her guilty pleasure is getting in an episode of Judge Judy while eating some junk food in peace during nap time.