Maqluba is the popular upside down Palatenian and Jordanian rice dish prepared with delicate layers of vegetables, meat, and rice. In the Middle eastern region, people call it maqlooba or maqlubeh. The exciting and fun part of this dish is the flipping pot idea to show the upside down all the layers of veggies and meat with rice. Every time I make this dish, my family becomes a part to help me just to flip the pot.
About This Recipe
Maqluba, Maaluba, Magluba, Makloubeh, or Maqlooba whatever you call it, and however you make it gives you the yum bites of rice with tender meat and fried veggies. Basically, maqluba is the Palestinian term that means upside down which is the specialty of this dish. It’s a traditional style maqluba recipe that is famous in the Arabian region. It’s a national dish of Palestine but people from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Jordan have their own style of making maqluba the common part is the layering and upside down execution that makes it super tempting to eat.
The Cooking Process
The cooking process of Maqluba comprises so many steps but the end result will give you the taste of this hard work. I was used to making traditional style of maqluba at home but my flavor change a bit after trying maqluba in different restaurants in middle eastern region. In Dubai, I have tried this dish in an Iraqi restaurant and it was superb in taste but the look was different as compared to Syrian, Lebanese, and Jordanian maqluba. Last year, I have tried huge pot maqluba in a food exhibition prepared by Syrian chefs and it was awesome not only in taste but also the presentation and look of all the layers was beautifully crafted.
Many people think, there are many pots required to make this recipe. To be very honest, I just used 2 pots to make it so there was no mess in my kitchen. First stir fried all the vegetables in a big pot and then in same pot prepared chicken with stock. I used the second pot just to align all the layers of veggies, meat, and rice so it can beautifully flip out in upside down position.
I am comfortable in titanium nonstick pots as nothing sticks on the base and flipping is much easier and more convenient. The size of pot is also very important to take out rice in a perfect upside down position. If the pot is big then flipping may break the rice formation so it’s recommended to use the pot that is according to your rice size. The shape of maqluba after upside down all depends upon the size, length, and width of your pot. Stacking layers in a narrow or tall pot will give you a tall look of Maqluba. In the same way, the wider and small pot will execute the parabola form. So you can play with the shape of Maqluba (upside down) by adapting the pot according to the quantity of rice.
Traditionally the vegetable layer of maqluba is prepared with the stir fried eggplant, potato, onion, cauliflower, and capsicum. I also used slices of tomatoes as it tastes so good with rice. If you want to add more variations in veggies then carrots and zucchini could be a great idea.
In the same way, People used to deep fried vegetables, and some rely on stir frying. I have seen people roast the vegetables in the oven so it depends upon your choice of how to do you want to stack the veggies with rice.
Long grain basmati rice is best for Maqluba. These are soft, fluffy, and expand more than twice after cooking. The aroma of basmati rice in Maqluba with chicken and veggies is awesome. Alternatively, try with Jasmine rice which is also good and could be a substitute for basmati. I have tried Maqluba with Egyptian rice which is medium grain rice but it makes a good taste. Rice quality is very important for the taste and presentation so it needs to be soft and perfectly cooked without getting mushy.
I prepared this Maqluba recipe with chicken pieces preferably taken with bones as it makes tasty stock. The same recipe can be tried with mutton/lamb only the cooking time will increase as the lamb take a long time to get tender as compared to chicken. If you are making this dish for the party then take big pieces of chicken as it will cook in a big pot. I have prepared this recipe in a small pot for my family so taken small/medium pieces as it goes well with layering. Big pieces may disturb the formation of rice while layering so it’s good to use medium size with golden chicken pieces. For this recipe, never use chicken with skin!
Maqluba ingredients are mainly based on rice, meat, and vegetables, cooked with special maqluba spice powder that I prepared at home by combining different spices in one place. It's so simple and easy to make maqluba in this way.
Chicken (With bones): Took chicken pieces without skin and with bones to make thick stock to cook rice.
Basmati Rice: Aromatic and long grain basmati is the key to making the best maqluba presentation and taste.
Veggies: Used capsicum, potatoes, eggplant, onion, and tomatoes in this recipe. Cauliflower can also be used.
Maqluba Spice: Combine coriander, turmeric, red chili powder, curry powder, and salt to make spice powder. Also used cinnamon sticks, cloves, green cardamom, and bay leaves.
Tomato Paste: Added thick concentrated tomato paste that will add meaty taste and nuance.
Oil: Used for stir-frying and cooking chicken.
Used almonds for garnish.
The combination of chicken and veggies cooked with special maqluba spices and basmati rice makes a perfect taste. The upside down presentation especially in big pots makes a super engaging and tempting to try...
How to Make
Preparing maqluba recipe seems like a lengthy process but it’s not. It’s easy if the process has been distributed in steps. First, start with cutting vegetables and stir fry them individually in one pot. Seasoning of Maqluba masala while stir frying adds a good taste to veggies.
Step 01: Soak The Rice
Wash Basmati Rice and soak for 30 minutes.
Step 02: Prepare Maqluba Spice Powder
In a bowl, add red chili powder, coriander powder, curry powder, turmeric powder and salt. Mix it well.
Step 03: Prepare Stir Fried Vegetables
Cut all the vegetables in uniform slices. I took eggplants, potatoes, capsicum, onion, and tomatoes. Stir fry all vegetables. Sprinkle Maqluba spice powder during frying as it will add taste to veggies.
Step 04: Cooking Chicken
In a pan, add oil and heat it up. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, and green cardamom and let it pop for few seconds. Add chicken and cook on high heat until the chicken changes color and shows a roasted effect. Now add maqluba spice powder and cook on high heat to kill the spice rawness. Now add tomato paste and give it a good mix. Add water. Cover the lid and cook the chicken on low medium heat for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take out tender chicken from the pan and strain the stock.
Step 05: Stir Fry Soaked Rice
In a pan, add oil and stir soaked rice for 2 minutes on medium heat.
Step 06: Layering
In a maqluba pot, add oil to make the base greasy. First, make a layer of eggplant, then potatoes, onion, capsicum, and tomatoes. Place chicken pieces over the vegetable layer. Now add rice and spread evenly on all sides. Pour the chicken stock. Cover the pan with Aluminum foil and cook the rice for about 20 to 25 minutes. Initially cook rice on medium heat then turn the heat to low to cook rice on steam.
Step 07: Flip The Pot
Place the maqluba platter at the top of maqluba pot and carefully flip the pot to take out maqluba rice in upside-down position. This step is a little tricky but full of fun!
Step 08: Garnish
I used almonds to garnish the maqluba. Raisins and parsley can also be used to make tempting garnishing.
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- Carefully select the pot to get the perfect upside down position of maqluba without sticking at the bottom and breaking the rice formation while flipping.
- Monitor the quantity of maqluba stock to cook rice. If it’s more then rice requirement then the rice will be mushy in look. If it’s less then rice will remain raw and grainy.
- Don’t use big chicken pieces if you are preparing on small scale.
- Use chicken without skin and with bones.
- Don’t soak rice for long time. 30 minutes will be enough for basmati rice.
- Avoid frying the veggies for a long time otherwise, it will get soggy and will not look good while stacking.
- Use long grain basmati rice.
Maqluba is the complete meal! So you don’t need many things to add in serving. Simply the yogurt and veg salad will add value to this dish. I like Fattoush and Tabbouleh with Dakous.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Maqluba rice are undercooked?
If the proportion of rice and stock is not balanced then the rice will be undercooked or overcooked. In an undercooked situation, there is less stock to cook rice. To perfectly cook the rice, make sure to soak the rice properly and add 1.5 cups of stock in 1 cup of dried rice to perfect cook the rice.
Why Maqluba rice get mushy?
This is also the reason for imbalanced stock and rice. Here the stock is sufficient to cook the rice. Temperature management to cook the rice is also very important. If the rice is initially cooked at on high temperature then the rice grain expands so rapidly and when it 60% cooked turn the heat to low so it makes steam and the rest of the rice will cook on steam.
How to Flip Maqluba pot?
It's simple to flip the pot by placing maqluba platter at the top of the pot. Make sure the size of maqluba platter is greater than the size of pot. Flipping can hurt as the rice is full of steam so take this step in complete vigilance.
Why veg layer stick at pan bottom?
Overcooking can cause this reason. Use the nonstick pan and don't overcook. If veggies stick on pan bottom and set it with hand and leave the stick part if it's burnt. Monitor the timing and heat to avoid this situation.
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Maqluba Recipe [Maqlubeh]
- Maqluba Pot Use any deep pot to make maqluba layers and cook rice
- 500 g Chicken with bones
- 2.5 cups Basmati Rice
- 2 tbsp Oil 2
- 8 slices Capsicum
- 15 slices Potatoes
- 15 slices Onion
- 10 slices Eggplant
- 6 slices Tomatoes
- Maqluba Spice Ingredients:
- 3 inches Cinnamon Sticks
- 5 Green Cardamom
- 5 Cloves
- 1 tsp Red Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Coriander Powder
- ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 tsp Curry Powder
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
- Almonds For Garnish
- Soak basmati rice for 30 minutes.
- Prepare Maqluba spice powder:
- In a bowl, add red chili powder, coriander powder, curry powder, turmeric powder and salt. Give it a good mix to combine all ingredients.
- Wash and cut vegetables slices.
- Cut all the vegetables in uniform slices. I took eggplants, potatoes, capsicum, onion, and tomatoes.
- Stir fry all vegetables. Sprinkle Maqluba spice powder during frying as it will add taste to veggies.
- In a pan, pour oil and heat it up.
- Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, and green cardamom and let it pop for few seconds.
- Add chicken and cook on high heat until the chicken start changes the color and shows a roasted effect.
- Now add maqluba spice powder and cook on high heat to kill the spice rawness.
- Add tomato paste and give it a good mix.
- Add water to cook the chicken and make the thick and consisten chicken stock.
- Cover the lid and cook the chicken on low medium heat for about 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, take out tender chicken pieces from the pan. If you want, you can strain the stock.
- In a pan, add oil and stir soaked rice for 2 minutes on medium heat. This step is optional but will add nutty taste in rice.
- In a maqluba pot, add oil to make the base greasy. First, make a layer of eggplant, then potatoes, onion, capsicum, and tomatoes. Place chicken pieces over the vegetable layer. Now add rice and spread evenly on all sides. Pour the chicken stock. Cover the pan with Aluminum foil and cook the rice for about 20 to 25 minutes. Initially cook rice on medium heat then turn the heat to low to cook rice on steam.
- Place the maqluba platter at the top of maqluba pot and carefully flip the pot to take out maqluba rice in upside-down position. This step is a little tricky but full of fun!
- I used almonds to garnish the maqluba. Raisins and parsley can also be used to make tempting garnishing.
- The selection of pot to make the perfect shape of maqluba is important. Take any deep and wide and tall pot accordingly to the size of ingredients.
- The same recipe can be prepare with lamb or mutton. Only the cooking time to tender meat will increase.
- Carefully check the maqluba stock to cook rice. If the water is more then rice will get mushy. If water is less then rice will show an undercooked texture.
- You can cook maqluba meat in instant pot or in same way fry the veggies in air fryer. Here I prepare this recipe on stovetop.
- Small chicken pieces will be good for small scale maqluba preparation. If you are making for restaurants then big pot and big chicken pieces will be good.
- Never use chicken with skin.
- Chicken with bones makes a thick, consistent and saturated stock.
- Don’t soak rice for a long time. 30 minutes will be enough for basmati rice. Avoid frying the veggies for a long time otherwise, they will get soggy and will not look good while stacking. Use long grain basmati rice.