Makloubeh (Maqluba) – Literally ‘upside down.’ Chicken and vegetables cooked in rice
We eat reasonably traditional foods in this house. Mainly because my husband (the eldest son) loves old recipes with rice, stuffed vegetables, and tahini and yoghurt sauces.
When I first made Makloubeh a couple of years ago, I didn’t think much of it. My husband told me just today that it was actually really, really unpleasant – nothing like real Makloubeh – and he was only being polite when he chowed down on it. I found that recipe online, and thus feel the need to provide another, proper, recipe as taught by my mother in law.
It’s cheap, filling, and totally delicious. (Other than the deep fried vegetables, it’s pretty healthy too!)
So here’s the recipe for all those who may be interested in cooking an old fashioned Jordanian dish, whose ingredients are staples anywhere.
It’s a heavy meal, and reasonably oily, so you simply have to have it with Arabic salad and yoghurt. The idea of mixing up rice and yoghurt and salad on the same spoon was odd to me at first, but trust me, it’s frigging delicious.
Jordanian Makloubeh Recipe
Notes: You’ll need the water you cooked the chicken in, and the same bowl you made your rice in, so don’t wash these up until the very end.
This is for a family of 6. I’d advise cutting this in half for a western-sized family, although it’s just as good cold later.
Use chicken on the bone – i.e. thighs etc., as it makes the stock as well. You might want to use ½ or a whole chicken and cut it accordingly.
Serve with salad and plain/Greek yoghurt.
lt1 piece of chicken per person
Rice – 1 US cup per person (we use about 1000g uncooked Egyptian rice for 6 people but we have loads left over)
3-4 peeled potatoes
3-4 peeled carrots
1 large aubergine
1 medium cauliflower
2 chicken stock cubes
Plenty of vegetable oil
4-5 cardamom pods
3 tbsp salt
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 ground ginger
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp & 1 tbsp salt
3 tbsp 7 Spice (Lebanese – not Chinese!)
1inch cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
- Put chicken pieces in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add about an inch of a cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom and a tbsp salt. Put it on to boil.
- Slice all vegetables thickly and place in separate bowls. If your potatoes are large, cut them in half. Cauliflower florets should be a bit bigger than bite size. Half your once aubergine vertically and then slice into wedges.
- Pour 3-4 inches of vegetable oil into a pan. Turn heat on high.
While your oil is heating up, fill a bowl half way with the rice. Cover with boiling water and give it a quick stir. Set aside.
- Now you’re going to fry the vegetables until golden brown. First start with the potatoes, then cauliflower, aubergine, and carrots.
- While you’re waiting for the carrots to finish, remove the chicken from its water and turn the heat off. Retain the water. This will give the chicken a minute to dry off. When all your veg is cooked, fry the chicken in the same oil on both sides until golden brown.
- Add 2 stock cubes to the chicken stock.
- Your rice should have absorbed most of the water by now. Wash it until the water runs clear.
- Next, mix 2 tbsp salt, cinnamon, cumin and pepper into the rice, and sprinkle a little on the bottom of a large saucepan to protect the chicken from burning. It’s a good idea at this point to put the chicken stock back on the heat and bring to the boil again.
- Now you’re going to create the makloubeh layers. On top of your sprinkled rice, place the chicken, then potatoes, cauliflower, aubergine, and finally carrots. They won’t make perfect layers, but it’s the thought that counts. Pour the remaining rice on top. Turn the heat on high.
- Pour the chicken stock into the same bowl you used for the rice. Fill it right up to the top – this way you have a perfect 2:1 ratio of water and rice. It also means you don’t waste any spices lurking in the rice bowl.
- Pour the water over your rice and vegetables and chicken. It should cover everything without the need for extra water. We add 2-3 tbsp of the oil used for deep frying, for extra flavour and to soften the rice, but that’s up to you.
Once it’s boiling put the lid on and turn the heat down to maintain a steady boil. Cook for roughly 20-30 mins, but do a taste taste on the rice to be sure.
- Remove from the heat and leave for five or ten minutes while you set the table. Finally, turn the saucepan upside down on a (very) large serving dish and tap the base several times so the contents spread across the dish. Garnish with coriander or parsley if you please.
There’s no right or wrong way to make this, but it’s slightly different to the way I make salads in England, so this is a general guide. The taste is quite sharp and cuts through the oily rice.
1 green pepper
bunch of parsley / coriander
optional – Carrots, onions, lettuce
1-2 spoons lemon juice (or lemon salt if you have it)
1 crushed garlic clove
Chop all the greens into really small cubes and mix everything together.
I really, really, hope that this recipe finds someone who wants to make it – and if you do, I would love to hear how you got along. I’ve never written out a recipe before, and would appreciate feedback. Enjoy! 🙂