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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Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish
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Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich

Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich

Chicken Shawarma Sandwich

Since returning from our summer vacation in Jordan and Dubai we’ve had a yen for the popular sandwich served everywhere in the Middle East, the ever popular Chicken Shawarma.

Shawarma is really meat, beef, chicken, veal, turkey, lamb, or a mixture of meats, grilled on a vertical spit; pretty much like how the Greeks prepare Gyros.  You see these spits almost on every corner around Amman.  This sandwich or plates are available from the corner snack shop to the food courts in the malls to even the high end restaurants around town.  They range in price from about $1 to $5 depending on where you buy it; but regardless of where you buy and how much you pay you’re almost sure to walk away with something delicious.

At home in Hawaii finding shawarma is nearly impossible, we have very few Greek restaurants and even fewer Middle Eastern ones.  I’m sure we’ve tried them all; some are adequate, but most we’ve found lacking.  The only way to get good Middle Eastern food is to make it at home.

So how was I supposed to make my favorite chicken shawarma?  I don’t own a vertical spit and wasn’t about to buy one; frankly I doubt I’d ever figure out how to use it.  Surely there was an easier way to make this yummy dish using equipment I already own, namely my stove.  I looked online and found several recipes that called for either oven roasting the chicken or frying it on the stove.   I didn’t care how it was cooked as long as it tasted good.  After experimenting with different spices I finally came up with a recipe that my husband says is almost exactly like the chicken shawarma we enjoyed in Amman.

Really the secret is in the marinade, that’s what makes the chicken tender and gives it that tangy spicy flavor.  I marinate the chicken over night, roast it in the oven, then make the sandwich on fresh pita with veggies and that oh so yummy garlic sauce.  The sauce is really a must for this sandwich, to learn how to make it click here.

Shawarma sandwiches are great for lunch, dinner, or snacks.  Really I can eat them all day long!  My grandsons love them too!

My recipe uses FULL FAT Greek Yogurt – I’ve tried it with the non-fat or low-fat yogurts, it doesn’t come out as tender.

Marinade Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken tenderloins – cut in half lengthwise
2 tbls. minced garlic
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp.  paprika
1 tsp. curry powder
1/4 cup FULL FAT Greek yogurt

Sandwich Ingredients:

Fresh Pita or French bread
Garlic Sauce
Tomato slices
Cucumber slices
Sour Pickles

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a ziplock bag.
Put chicken pieces in bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Place marinated chicken on parchment covered baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes – turning chicken half-way thru the cooking time.

When the chicken is cooked put your sandwich together.  You can either cut the pita in half to form pockets you stuff with the chicken and other sandwich fixings or you can place all the fixings on top of the whole pita then roll it up tortilla style.  When I roll it up I like to wrap the bottom half in parchment or wax paper to keep the sandwich together.  Of course if you’re packing them to take along then it’s easier to roll them and wrap them in paper.

Which ever way you put the sandwich together first spread some of the garlic sauce on the bread – then put in the chicken and veggies then drizzle the whole thing with more garlic sauce.

It’s really yummy!  Enjoy!

For my Beef Shawarma Recipe click here!

Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Ingredients
Marinade
Sandwich Fixings
Servings: Sandwiches
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a ziplock bag.
  2. Put chicken pieces in bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Place marinated chicken on parchment covered baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes - turning chicken half-way thru the cooking time.
Recipe Notes

When the chicken is cooked put your sandwich together. You can either cut the pita in half to form pockets you stuff with the chicken and other sandwich fixings or you can place all the fixings on top of the whole pita then roll it up tortilla style. When I roll it up I like to wrap the bottom half in parchment or wax paper to keep the sandwich together. Of course if you're packing them to take along then it's easier to roll them and wrap them in paper.

Which ever way you put the sandwich together first spread some of the garlic sauce on the bread - then put in the chicken and veggies then drizzle the whole thing with more garlic sauce.

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