Maqluba, meat, rice, fried vegetables and Yogurt!

Maqluba is a traditional Arab dish of chicken or meat (mostly lamb), mixed with fried vegetables and then cooked in layers with rice. When the dish is finished and ready to serve, it is turned out from the pot in which it was cooked onto a serving plate, resembling a large brown cake of rice. The potatoes, added on top of the pot, end up on the bottom. You can find Maqluba in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, as well as within Arab population centers in Israel.

And of course, as usual, there are many variations for this recipe. Palestinians like to use the rice and stuff it in the chicken. Others are trying to make it an artwork when they serve the Maqluba, others want to put the focus on the friend vegetables, while others will do it differently, bounded only by their creative fantasies of this dish.

For many Europeans, the combination of rice and chicken is a bit strange, but when you get used to it, it tastes wonderful.


  • 3 cups (720 g) rice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 lb (2 kg) chicken, divided into 6 pieces, or lamb cut into cubes
  • ½ cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
  • Herb mixture:
    • ½ teaspoon crushed saffron
    • pinch of ground cloves
    • ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom
    • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon of allspice
    • ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut in thick slices
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1-2 onions, peeled and cut in thick slices
  • 1 cauliflower, divided into florets
  • 1 teaspoon margarine or butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Maqluba up-side-down
    Maqluba up-side-down

  1. Soak the rice in cold water for an hour, rinse, and drain.
  2. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt.
  3. In a deep, heavy pot, heat 1,14 cup (60 ml) of the oil and brown the chicken or lamb pieces.
  4. Add 6 cups (1.5 liter) boiling water and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Toward the end of the cooking time, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and the saffron, pinch of ground cloves, at least ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon each of ground cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, and ground ginger.
  6. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, retaining the cooking water.
  7. In a separate pot, fry the vegetables separately in the remaining oil: first the potatoes, next the carrots, then the onion, and finally the cauliflower florets.
  8. Remove each vegetable with a slotted spoon onto a separate plate before frying the next.
  9. Grease a heavy cooking pot with the margarine or butter.
  10. Arrange the potatoes at the bottom, the carrots on the sides, and the cauliflower and onion on top.
  11. Put the chicken over the vegetables and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
  12. Spread the rice in an even layer and then pour over the water in which the meat cooked.
  13. Cover, and cook over high heat until the rice has entirely absorbed the water, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  14. Keeping the pot covered, reduce the heat to minimum and continue to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  15. To serve, place a large flat dish or tray over the top of the pot and invert with a quick movement.

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