Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish

Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish

Macluba

Maqluba is a Levantine dish popular in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.  The name literally means “upside down” because the meat, vegetables, and rice are stacked in a handleless pot to cook, then flipped over and placed on a large tray for serving.

These days Maqluba is described as a one pot dish, which I suppose it could be; assuming you don’t count the pot you stew the meat in, and the pan you fry the veggies in.  Not to mention the bowl you soak the rice in, and if you’re adding vermicelli and pine nuts the pan you brown the pasta and nuts in.

Maqluba is very similar to Paella which is also a one pot dish composed of meat or seafood, veggies, and rice.  Considering that many parts of Spain was under Moorish rule for a total of about 800 years it would be fair to say that Paella is the Spanish version of Maqluba or vice versa.

It is honestly the only Arabic dish I can claim to have mastered.  After years of making Maqluba I’ve finally gotten it right every single time.  It’s really not that difficult to make, it’s just tedious due to all the steps in the recipe and the time it takes to make it.  If you count the time it takes to soak the rice this dish takes all day to make, at the very least about 3  hours.  But it is truly worth the time and effort.

Maqluba is typically made with stewed meat, either lamb, beef, or chicken; fried vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, or eggplant; and rice.  All the ingredients are stacked in that order into a large deep pot preferably without handles.  Of course you can omit the meat and make a vegetarian dish.

There are “enhancements” you can add to make the dish fancier.  Some folks like to mix vermicelli and even garbanzo beans in the rice before cooking, then sprinkle it with pine nuts before serving.  And of course in our family I slip tomato wedges between the meat before cooking, and some of us like to top the cooked dish with corn kernels and plain yogurt.  In short I suppose each family has it’s own version on how to cook and eat Maqluba.  But one thing is certain, it’s delicious!

Here’s how we make it at our house, but first here’s a quick tip.  When making Maqluba use a deeper pot with no handles (a maqluba pot is the best, but hard to find in the US, you may find one at a middle eastern grocery store) and a lid, or a pot with removable handles or handles that aren’t too close to the pot lip.  This will make flipping it over easier as handles can block the tray you flip it on to from laying flat on top of the pot.  The pot has to be deep enough to layer the ingredients and still have enough space for the rice to expand as it cooks.

Maqcluba

Ingrdients:

4-5 Cups Long Grain Rice

1 Tbs. Turmeric Powder

1/8 Cup Olive Oil

8-10 pieces of meat (lamb, beef, or bone in chicken thighs)

1 Large Onion, cut in chunks

1 Tbs. Garlic, crushed

1 Tbs. + 1 Tsp. Ground Cumin

1 Tsp. + 1 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Box Stock (beef or chicken depending on the meat you use)

1 Large Cauliflower, cut into chunks

1 Large Eggplant, cut into rounds

3 Potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds

Oil for frying

Cooking spray

2 Tomatoes cut in wedges

6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled

Vermicelli (Optional)

1 Can Garbanzo Beans, drained (Optional)

1/2 Cup Pine Nuts (Optional)

Butter (Optional)

1 Can Corn Kernels (Optional)

1 Cup Fresh Plain Greek Yogurt (Optional)

Directions:

Place rice in a big bowl and cover with water.

Add Turmeric to water and stir until it is evenly distributed and water turns yellow.  Set aside for at least 2 hours. Check periodically as the rice will absorb the water.  If all the water is absorbed add more and stir.

Heat olive oil in a stock pot.

Saute onions in hot oil until it starts to turn translucent.

Add crushed garlic and cook another minute, stir to keep from burning.

Add meat, 1 Tbs. Cumin, 1 Tsp. Nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook until meat starts to brown.

Add stock and then add water to completely cover the meat.

Let simmer until meat is tender and fully cooked.  About 2 hours.  Set aside when done.

Meanwhile place about 1″ oil in frying pan.

Fry your veggies until cooked and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.

If using Vermicelli and/or Pine Nuts:  Melt about 1 tbs. butter in a small frying pan.  Add vermicelli and cook until it starts to turn brown, stir constantly to keep from burning.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Repeat this procedure with Pine Nuts.

When ready to stack meat in the pot:

Spray bottom and sides of pot with cooking spray.

Drain rice then stir in vermicelli noodles and/or garbanzo beans if using.

Starting with the meat, remove meat from pot it was cooked it, reserve the broth do not discard.

Arrange meat at the bottom of the pot.

Slip garlic cloves and tomato wedges between the meat.

Sprinkle meat with 1 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. nutmeg.

Arrange veggies on top of meat.

Pour rice mixture over the veggies and smooth out to make the top flat.

Gently pour reserved broth over the rice.  Fill until the broth just covers the rice, if you don’t have enough broth add water.

Cover with lid and simmer over medium heat until rice is cooked.  Check every 10 minutes or so to make sure the liquid has not all evaporated before the rice is cooked.  If you need to add more liquid, either broth or water.  This takes about 30 minutes.

If the rice is cooked and you still have liquid remove lid and raise the heat for about 5 minutes so that the rest of the liquid evaporates.  Be careful not to burn the bottom.  Or you can carefully drain extra liquid before flipping.

When rice is cooked and there is no more liquid remove pot from lid.  Let rest about 5 minutes.

Flip over onto a large tray.

Garnish with cooked Pine Nuts on the meat if desired.

Serve with bowls of corn kernels and plain yogurt.

 

 

Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish
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Tandoori Salmon

Tandoori Salmon

In an effort to eat less meat, we like to have a few fish alternatives in our arsenal to satisfy our cravings for their meat counterparts. Instead of hitting up Seamless for your tandoori chicken, why not try a salmon stand-in?! This version comes together in very little time, and it packs a ton of flavor. The pickled red onions might seem like a superfluous add-on, but trust us, they’re SO worth it.

 

Made it? Let us know how it went in the comment section below!

YIELDS: 6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME: 0 HOURS 20 MINS

COOK TIME: 0 HOURS 25 MINS

TOTAL TIME: 0 HOURS 45 MINS

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE QUICK PICKLED ONIONS
1 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. water
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
FOR THE SALMON
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch ground cloves
1 1/4 c. plain low-fat yogurt
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, sliced, plus wedges for serving
1 (2 1/4-lb.) skin-on salmon fillet
Cilantro sprigs, for serving

DIRECTIONS

1. Make quick pickled onions: Stir together vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave until hot and sugar and salt dissolve, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in onions and let sit.

2. Preheat oven to 400°. In a medium bowl, stir garlic, ginger, paprika, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and cloves into yogurt. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Place lemon slices on bottom of 9”-x-13” baking dish and arrange salmon on top. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Spread yogurt mixture in an even layer over top of salmon.

4. Roast salmon until cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn oven to broil and broil until golden if desired, about 3 minutes.

Serve salmon with cilantro, pickled onions, and lemon wedges.


Tandoori Salmon
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Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas is a favorite Spanish Tapa.  Tapas of course are small portions of Spanish food that’s usually served with cocktails at bars or as appetizers.  Or several types of Tapas can be cobbled together to make a meal.  I love Tapas!  It’s a great way to sample different types of Spanish food in one sitting.

Patatas Bravas is one of my favorites.  It’s a simple dish of fried or baked potato wedges or cubes in a spicy sauce.  I always order it when we’re in Barcelona or any other Spanish town or city.  But traveling may prove to be difficult this year and we won’t be going on our usual Med Cruise or other European vacations.  That’s why I’ve been making some of our favorite foods at home.  After all eating local foods is a big part of traveling!

Lately I’ve been on a Spanish food kick and Patatas Bravas has been on top of my to make list.  Everyone in my house loves it that it’s now become a family favorite.  I serve it as an appetizer and as a side dish, either way it’s delicious!

Most places serve it with a mayonnaise based Garlic Aioli, but I like it without.  You can make a simple Aioli by mixing together mayo, garlic powder, and lemon juice.  Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh chopped chives.

Patatas Bravas

Ingredients:

6-8 Yukon Gold Potatoes – peeled and cut into wedges

2 Tbs. Olive Oil

1 Tsp. Minced Garlic

2 Tbs. Smoked Paprika

2 Tsp. Chili Powder

2 Tsp. Ground Cumin

1/2 Tsp. Salt

1/4 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper flakes

Directions:

Place potato wedges in a large pot and cover with water.

Bring water to boil and reduce heat.

Cook uncovered for about 8-10 minutes or until just tender. (you don’t want them too soft, they will fall apart)

Drain and pat potatoes dry with paper towel.

Place in bowl.

Toss potatoes in Olive Oil and Garlic until evenly coated.

In a small bowl combine the rest of the spices and sprinkle over potatoes.

Toss potatoes in spice mix until evenly coated.

Place potatoes on a baking sheet, spread out in a single layer.

Bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until crispy.  Stir potatoes about half way thru baking time.

Serve warm with or with out Aioli.

Patatas Bravas
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Carne Asada Marinade

Carne Asada Marinade

As many of you know I absolutely love Mexican food and am always on the lookout for restaurants that serve authentic Mexican cuisine.  That’s not easy to find where I live in Hawaii.  Although a few places have popped up that meet our family’s expectations most of the time I end up making our favorite Mexican dishes at home.

A family favorite is Carne Asada, typical for a family of carnivores I guess.  In restaurants it’s sometimes used as the filling for burritos and enchiladas, or a topping for nachos; and it mostly appears on the mean as steak.

Since it’s a favorite of ours I always make it and use it to fill tacos, burritos, and my all time favorites Chimichangas and Flautas which are really just fried versions of burritos and taquitos.

I use flank or skirt steak to make my Carne Asada, and in a pinch flap meat works well too.  Those cuts of meat aren’t the most tender but marinating it overnight makes it not only tender but tasty as well.  I usually make a big batch of Carne Asada and freeze some to use later.  I pan fry the meat and freeze half.  It heats up really well.

You can also grill the Flank Steak instead of pan frying it, but to grill it don’t cut up the meat before marination.  Marinate the whole slab, grill it, then cut it up to fill your tacos, burritos, or whatever.

So here’s the recipe!

Carne Asada

Marinade Ingredients:

2 Tbs. Soy Sauce

3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice

2 Tbs. Olive Oil

2 Tbs. Minced Garlic

1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro roughly chopped

2 Tsp. Chili Powder

1 Tsp. Ground Cumin

1 Tsp. Ground Oregano

2 Lbs. Flank or Skirt Steak – cut into 1/2″ strips or if you are grilling don’t cut it up marinate the whole slab

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients except the meat in a bowl.

Place meat in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade over it.

Close bag and knead the meat to distribute the marinade evenly.

Refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to cook it heat 1 Tbs. Olive Oil in skillet.

Place the meat into hot oil and pan fry to desired doneness.

Discard the marinade.

When meat is cooked use it to make nachos or fill your tortillas, taco shells or bowls, depending on what you are making.

Serve with garnishes such as pico de gallo, sour cream, shredded cheese, guacamole, fresh diced tomatos, lettuce, salsa, etc.


Carne Asada Marinade
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Best-Ever Spanish Rice

Best-Ever Spanish Rice

Tomato sauce, red bell pepper, and the perfect combo of spices elevate ordinary white rice to a restaurant-worthy side. (It pair perfectly with our chicken fajitas!) Don’t skip toasting the rice! It adds a ton of flavor.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped

2 c. long grain white rice

2 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1 c. tomato sauce

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp. freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and pepper and cook until softened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, tomato puree, lemon juice, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, and cumin. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

2. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until all liquid is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and let rest for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove lid and fluff rice with a fork. Top with cilantro and serve immediately.

 

 

Best-Ever Spanish Rice
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Best-Ever Spanish Rice
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