Traditional Palestinian Makloubeh recipe from scratch. Makloubeh is upside-down rice with tender lamb cubes & delicious eggplants. An absolutely delicious dish!
Makloubeh is literally translated as “upside-down” and it’s exactly what you’re looking for to have a tasty and warming dinner. It is fragrant Arabic dish, which has its origins in the Middle East generally and there are different variants of it throughout Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon. Usually, it’s made of meat (lamb or chicken), rice or potatoes and vegetables like cauliflower, chickpeas or eggplant. Accordingly, there are also different variants of spelling like magloubeh, maglouba, makloubeh and ma’aloubeh.
What is offered here is a traditional Palestinian variant with lamb, rice, and aubergine. The name of the dish refers to the serving which is the main thing about makloubeh, because it’s literally served upside down!
There are many traditional Arab foods that are very easy to make, they also require a lot of spices, meat, and rice (or other grain) sometimes pita bread, but makloubeh is definitely not one of them, mainly because all the ingredients are not served in one plate side by side.
Makloubeh is traditionally made for special occasions like Ramadan or family holidays. It is low in fat and rich in different spices that give the dish extraordinary taste, especially cinnamon in rice, which makes it really stand out!
It’s absolutely not a difficult recipe to try, though it requires a lot of time (might take a few hours!) but it’s absolutely worth the effort. Remember that presentation is the key. After you finish cooking, you up-end the pan, it’s supposed to look like a neat pile of rice, meat, and vegetables.
When cooking, make sure the dish is on a low heat, covered with a lid. But do not let it boil or bubble and do not stir because it will disturb the layers. To keep things in place when you serve the dish – place an upturned plate on the top. The plate must be larger than the mouth of the pan. Then very cautiously and neatly turn the pan upside down. If you have doubts you might need extra hands for help but it’s absolutely worth the effort.
- Lamb shoulder ( cubed)-1 kg / 2¼ lb
- Cinnamon sticks- 2
- Onions ( medium)- 4
- Olive oil- 4 tbsp
- Salt- to taste
- FOR RICE
- Basmati rice- 700 gm / 10 oz
- Vegetable oil- 500 ml
- Eggplants ( sliced , 3 cm thick)- 3 small
- Olive oil- 2 tbsp
- Ground cinnamon- 2 tsp
- Black pepper- 2 tsp
- Salt- 3 tsp , plus extra for seasoning
- Large tomatoes ( sliced)- 3
- FOR SERVING
- Parsley ( chopped)- 2 tbsp
- Toasted blanched split almonds- ¼ cup
- YOGURT SALAD
- Greek yogurt - ½ cup
- Cucumbers ( cubed)- 2 large
- Salt - to taste
- Heat 3-4 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add lamb cubes and fry over high heat until browned. Add in 4 onions, 2 cinnamon sticks & cover with water. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and cook for at least 1 hour until meat is tender.
- Once the lamb cubes are cooked, remove them from the broth and transfer onto a large plate. Set aside for a while. Remove the cinnamon sticks, the cooked onions from the broth.
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Sprinkle eggplants with salt & fry for 3 minutes per side. Drain on a kitchen towel. In a large bowl mix together rice, pepper, salt , olive oil and cinnamon. Arrange the sliced tomatoes on the bottom of a large saucepan.
- Spread a handful of rice over the tomatoes, then layer half the lamb cubes on top, finish with half the eggplants. Repeat these layers and finish with the layer of rice. Cover with the reserved meat broth to about 3 cm over the top. ( You might need to add some water if you don't have enough broth). Cook 30-40 minutes over the low heat WITHOUT STIRRING.
- Once the rice with lamb is cooked, allow to cool a little bit, then flip Makloubeh like a cake using a larger plate than the mouth of the pan.
- Sprinkle with the toasted almonds & chopped parsley.
- Serve with yogurt cucumber salad.