Recipe: Maqlubah (Arabic for upside down)

2014-12-28 15:00

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Serves 4-6

Hanan Ahmed says this is the classic Palestinian Friday family meal.


500g Basmati rice, soaked in water for 15 minutes

2 tablespoons Palestinian spice mix (This spice is available in shops in Palestine, but can be recreated by combining equal quantities of cinnamon powder, turmeric,

sweet paprika, cumin, mild curry powder and coriander powder,

plus a generous pinch of salt and black pepper.)

.?1 large chicken, cut into pieces

.?1 litre water

.?1 onion

.?2 bay leaves

.?1 stick cinnamon

.?Pinch turmeric

.?1 cauliflower, broken into florets

.?1 pinch cumin powder

.?Olive oil

.?3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into 0.5cm rounds

.?1 large brinjal, sliced lengthways 0.5cm thick

.?½ a bulb of garlic, with each clove peeled and thinly sliced

.?2 medium tomatoes sliced 0.5cm thick

.?1 handful roughly chopped almonds, fried in olive oil


Drain the water off the rice and add the Palestinian spice mix. Stir and set aside.

Place the chicken pieces in a large pot. Cover with water. Add onion, bay leaves, cinnamon, a pinch of turmeric, and simmer for half an hour until the chicken is cooked and flavoursome stock has formed. Keep the cooked chicken and liquid, but discard the onion, cinnamon and bay leaves.

Boil the cauliflower for two minutes in water with a pinch of cumin. Drain and set aside.

Fry the potatoes in olive oil. Set aside. Fry the brinjal and the cauliflower in the same manner. Finally, fry the boiled chicken pieces. All fried items should be deep golden. Season with salt and pepper.

In another tall pot, layer tomato slices. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the soaked, drained, spiced rice evenly over the tomato. Add a few slivers of garlic. Repeat this process with consecutive layers of potato, brinjal, cauliflower and chicken.

Cover the chicken pieces with the remaining rice and pour the stock over the layers. The liquid must be about 1cm above the level of the final layer of rice – if your stock is too little, add additional liquid. Boil until the liquid has reduced by a third, then cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer until the rice is just cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and set the pot aside with the lid on for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove lid and put a large serving dish over the pot. Flip over the pot as if you were turning over a cake from its baking tin on to the dish. Wait for a minute and then pull the pot away. The contents of the pot should hold together like a layered cake.

Garnish with almonds.

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