Sunday, March 25, 2012

Maqluba (Upside Down)

Maqluba is a traditional Palestinian rice and chicken meal. It is called Maqluba, which literally translates to upside down, because after it is cooked, the pot is flipped upside down onto a large platter. While a little time consuming, Maqluba is a fairly simple meal to prepare and only uses ingredients found at your local supermarket.


  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 1 chicken (3 to 3 ½ lbs., cut)
  • 3 cups basmati rice (rinse and soak in hot water)
  • 1 chicken bullion cube
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 teaspoons salt (or more)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 dash garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • oil (for frying)
  • 3 ½ cups water, and or 3 ½ cups meat broth


  1. In large pan (or pressure cooker) sauté onion until soft, then add chicken pieces. Brown chicken slightly, and then add pepper, salt, garlic powder and chicken bullion. Add water to cover.
  2. If using a pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for approximately 10 minutes.
  3.  If not, boil the chicken in water, skimming froth as it appears. Then add spices and let meat simmer over moderate heat until tender.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, break the cauliflower into medium-sized flowerets. Sprinkle with salt, then fry in deep hot oil until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.
  5. Do the same with the potatoes (cut in slices).
  6. In a 5-quart dutch oven, assemble the ingredients in layers. Start by sprinkling a handful of rice in the bottom of the pan. Remove the chicken from the broth and place it in a layer in the pan. Sprinkle another handful of rice and add some salt. Then put a layer of the fried cauliflower and potatoes. Sprinkle the cinnamon over this layer. Cover with the rest of the rice and add salt.
  7. Add a pinch of turmeric to the broth and pour the broth over the layers. Then add hot water until the rice is completely covered.
  8. Let it all come to a fast boil. Then cover and reduce heat to low.
  9. Cook covered until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed (about 20 to 30 minutes). Remove from fire.
  10. Let cool for ¼ of an hour, then turn pot upside down in a large platter or a large plate.
  11. If desired, garnish with sautéed pine nuts.

Serving Suggestions:

Maqluba is commonly served with plain Greek yogurt or a simple Arabic salad that consists of diced tomato, cucumber, and lemon juice. I usually add some bell pepper and green onion to my salad.

Variations of the recipe:

It is common for people to substitute lamb instead of chicken. A common addition is to peel and fry slices of eggplant and add it to the layer of vegetables.


  1. I am not usually much of a cooker, but I do love to eat different international foods. Your Maqluba recipe sounds like it would be delicious, and I love the concept of flipping the pot upside down so that the contents at the bottom would actually be served on top, and vice versa. I would like to try this recipe at home, but I was wondering if I could get replacements for some of the ingredients? For example basmati rice, is that any different from regular rice that is found at grocery stores? Other than that, the recipe sounds great and I would love to try it one day.

  2. I can't say that I've ever eaten authentic Middle Eastern food, and I certainly haven't cooked it before… But this sounds really good. Seriously, I've already added everything to my grocery list for it.
    I have to second MotorBurn's comment about the basmati rice - I had no idea what it was or if another rice could be substituted, or if I could buy it at the local grocery store. I googled it and figured it out.
    I also really like that you've included the serving suggestions and variations for the dish.

  3. How many people does this recipe serve? I am planning to cook this for 15 wondering if I doulbe the recipie & use an 8 quart pot if that will work.

  4. I know I'm late to the party here, but in the interest of future readers the previous commenters are pretty ridiculous. Basmati rice is a very basic ingredient found in almost every country; I am American and Basmati is one of the most common types of rice here. Also there is no regular rice...