Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish

Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish


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.



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)


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.



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Black bottom pie

Black bottom pie

Serves 8


This recipe for Southern pie by Felicity Cloake owes its name to its rich, dark cocoa base and chocolate custard, topped with a rum mousse and a cloud of whipped cream. Pure indulgence, Dixie style.


  • Oreo biscuits 24, (just shy of 2 packets)
  • unsalted butter 55g, melted
  • whole milk 500ml
  • eggs 4, separated
  • golden caster sugar 225g
  • cornflour 4 tsp
  • fine salt 1/4 tsp


  • dark chocolate 75g, finely chopped, plus a little extra to top
  • leaf gelatine 6 sheets
  • golden or dark rum 1 tbsp
  • vanilla extract 1 tsp
  • ground nutmeg 1/8 tsp
  • double cream 250ml
  • icing sugar 2 tbsp


  • STEP 1

    Whizz the Oreos to crumbs in a food processor, then add the melted butter and briefly whizz again. Press into a 23cm springform cake tin, cover and chill.

  • STEP 2

    Gently bring the milk to a boil in a heavy-based saucepan. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and half the caster sugar together in a large, heatproof bowl until paler in colour, then whisk in the cornflour and salt. Whisk as you pour the hot milk onto the yolks, then return to the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Take off the heat and pour half into a bowl, while this is cooling soak the gelatine in cold water until pliable. Squeeze the water out of 2 of the leaves. Stir the chocolate and these gelatine leaves into the pan with the custard mixture until they have melted, then pour onto the base. Chill.

  • STEP 3

    Stir the rum, vanilla, nutmeg and remaining 4 gelatine leaves into the warm, reserved custard mixture and leave to cool completely.

  • STEP 4

    Beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then add the remaining caster sugar and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Fold this into the cooled custard, then spoon on top of the chocolate custard and chill until set – about 4 hours. Whip the cream and icing sugar to soft peaks, spoon on top of the pie, then shave a little chocolate over the top to serve.



Nutritional Information

Kcals643    Fat38.1g    Saturates22g     Carbs63g    Sugars52.2g    Fibre2.4g    Protein9.5g    Salt0.8g

Black bottom pie
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Mummy Hand Pies

Mummy Hand Pies

This easy, Halloween-inspired recipe can be made ahead and served later as a scary-good party dessert.

Level: Easy
Total: 55 min
Active: 25 min
Yield: 6 hand pies


1/4 cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Kosher salt


2 refrigerated pie crusts, thawed if frozen

All-purpose flour, for dusting

1 large egg

12 raisins

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, optional


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.


  • Add the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a pinch of salt to a medium bowl and stir to combine.


  • Roll out 1 pie crust on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin to form a rectangle about 9 inches by 12 inches. Square off the crust with a knife, reserving the scraps for decorating. Cut the pie crust into 6 equal rectangles, each about 3 inches by 6 inches. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.


  • Roll out the other pie crust to the same thickness as the first. Cut into thin strips about 1/4 inch wide and 7 inches long. Repeat with the reserved dough scraps. Transfer the strips to a parchment-lined baking sheet.


  • Add 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling to the center of each rectangular crust. Use the back of a spoon to spread out the filling, leaving about a 1/2-inch border around the edges. 


  • Lightly beat the egg with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to brush the edges of the pies with the egg wash. Layer the strips of dough, varying the angle of each strip to create a “mummy” look. Seal the edges with a fork and use a paring knife to trim the overhang. Lightly brush the tops of the hand pies with the egg wash. Add 2 raisins to each hand pie for the eyes. ‘


  • Bake, rotating the pan halfway through for even color, until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a baking rack slightly, about 5 minutes. 


  • Serve as is or decorate with a simple icing. Combine the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl with 1/2 teaspoon water. Stir until smooth and glossy. Transfer the icing to a resealable plastic bag and snip off the corner. Pipe the icing onto the hand pies using the stripes of pie crust as a guide. Serve.

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Lebanese 7 Spices Mix

LebaneseI’ve heard it said many times that Lebanese cooking is the best cuisine the Middle Eastern countries have to offer.  Lebanese restaurants are the go to places when one has a yen for Arabic or Middle Eastern food.  This seems to be one of the few things that Arabs from around the world can mostly agree on.

I must confess that in my experience this is usually true.  Lebanese cooking is definitely top notch and any where we travel we look for a Lebanese restaurant.  Among my favorites are Al Halabi in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates and Wafi Gourmet in both the Dubai Mall and Wafi Mall; Reem Al Bawadi in Amman; and Mandaloun not far from the Spanish Steps in Rome.

But what makes Lebanese cuisine so great?  I’m not exactly sure, but I believe that one of its secrets are the spices they use.  Their Lebanese 7 Spices Mix in my opinion is the key to their delicious entrees.

Lebanese 7 Spices Mix contains many of the spices found in cuisine in and around that region.  It has cumin and coriander for sure and 6 other spices making it actually an 8 spices mix.  Why it’s called 7 Spices is beyond me unless the ground black pepper isn’t counted as a spice.

lebaneseAnyway whatever you call it seasoning grilled meats and stews with this Lebanese 7 Spices Mix makes for a delicious meal!  I like to keep a jar on hand and use it in marinades and of course for one of the family’s favorite dishes Mesaf or Fatiyeh, a dish of stewed meat in yogurt sauce.

You can mix up  a batch of Lebanese 7 Spices Mix to add to your stews too.  Just be sure you store it in an airtight container.  I use pint sized mason jars to store all my spice mixes.

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Lebanese 7 Spices Mix
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Lebanese 7 Spices Mix
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  1. Combine all ingredients into a small bowl and stir until well blended.
  2. Transfer to an airtight container for storage.
Recipe Notes

To use in rubs or marinades stir 2 Tbs. Mix into 1 Tbs. Olive Oil and rub into meats.  Or add the same proportion of mix to oil and combine with 1 Tbs. Vinegar to make marinade.

When using in stews or other dishes 1 Tbs. of mix is for each serving.

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Homemade Shawarma Spice Mix

Homemade Shawarma Spice Mix

Shawarma is a typical Middle Eastern street food that’s sold on street corner kiosks, fast food joints, and restaurants in Middle Eastern countries and beyond.

It’s sort of similar to the Greek Gyro but is seasoned with different spices and allowed to marinate for at least a few hours.  It’s usually cooked very much like the Turkish Doner Kebab which is a cone of mixed meats (beef, lamb, and chicken) cooked on a vertical spit.  Typically it’s served as a Shawarma Sandwich which is pita bread stuffed with shaved meat, tahini sauce, and fresh and pickled veggies.  It can also be served as a plate with rice, salad, hummus, and pita bread.

Today most Middle Eastern restaurants and fast food places serve specific shawarma meats such as beef or chicken shawarma in a sandwich or as a plate.  Needless to say both are very popular in our family!

But the real secret to Shawarma isn’t the meat or the way it’s cooked.  The secret lies in the spices used.  You can make shawarma in your oven, grill, and even in your Instant Pot.  In fact I always make it in my Instant Pot!  I’m working on an article to share how to make Beef Shawarma in an Instant Pot; but before I can make any type of shawarma using any method I have to season the meat!

I’m actually a big believer in spice rubs.  I make all sorts of rubs for different things such as my Basic BBQ Chicken Rub. I mean sauces are great for adding flavor to meat after it’s cooked, but what really gives meat great flavor are rubs and marinades.  So if you want to make homemade shawarma that tastes like you ordered it from a Middle Eastern restaurant you’ll need this Shawarma Spice Mix.

I usually mix up a large batch; large meaning enough mix to fill a  quart sized Mason Jar.  I store my Shawarma Spice Mix in a sealed jar in my pantry, it stays fresh for about 3 months, assuming you don’t use it all before then!  The spice mix can be used for beef or chicken shawarma and can even be added to other recipes when you’re wanting to add a touch of exotic flavorings.

To use the mix as a marinade for shawarma I use a teaspoon of mix per pound of meat.  Combine the mix with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, and a pinch of salt then massage it on to the meat.  Place the meat in a ziplock bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours but no longer than 24 hours.

So scroll down for the Shawarma Spice Mix recipe!

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Shawarma Spice Mix
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Shawarma Spice Mix
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  1. Mix all spices together in a large bowl
  2. Transfer spice mix to a mason jar
  3. Place jar lid on tightly and store in a cool dry place
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