I have a Maqlubeh (Maqluba) recipe collection. I have always wanted to make this beautiful, multi-layered, flavor-packed dish but was hesitant because it is a bit of a project. This streamlined version inspired me to finally try it. I even made it on a weeknight! (admittedly a little ambitious…)
This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Courtney Hill. I substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs for bone-in. I also used unsalted butter and chicken stock.
When presenting the finished dish, the platter is gently shaken to create cracks in the rice. The cracks reveal the aromas as well as the chicken and vegetables inside. I absolutely loved it- and drove my family crazy talking about it all evening. 😉 Although it could be served as a complete meal on its own, I served it with roasted asparagus and broccoli as well. It is classically served with a tomato, cucumber and yogurt salad. Fantastic.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
- 2 cups white Basmati rice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 6) or bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3), trimmed
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/3 cup raw slivered almonds
- 8 ounces cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 to 10 large garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 to 3/4 medium eggplant (about 8 to 12 ounces), sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 1 quart (4 cups) chicken stock
- In a large bowl, combine the rice and 2 tablespoons of coarse salt. Add water to cover by 1 inch, then set aside.
- Prepare a lidded pot that measures 9½ to 11 inches in diameter and 4 to 6 inches deep. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Cut 2 rounds of kitchen parchment the size of the pot. (I cut the rounds slightly oversized so that it had a little bit of a lip.)
- Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
- Set the pot over medium and heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering.
- Add the chicken “skin side” down and cook until browned, about 7 minutes for boneless or 10 minutes for bone-in. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Remove the pot from heat. Place 1 parchment round on the bottom, then turn to coat it with fat.
- Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the parchment-lined pot, then sprinkle evenly with the almonds.
- Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer, then rinse under cool running water and drain again.
- Scatter 1 cup of the rice in a thin, even layer over the almonds.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining rice with the cauliflower, garlic, melted butter, cumin, allspice, turmeric, nutmeg and 1 3/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup of this mixture, then distribute the remainder in an even layer in the pot.
- Place the chicken and accumulated juices (if using boneless, skinless chicken) in the pot, slightly nestling the pieces into the rice-cauliflower layer; discard any accumulated juices (if using bone-in chicken).
- Shingle the eggplant slices over the chicken in an even layer. Sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup rice-cauliflower mixture.
- Pour the stock into the pot (it will not fully cover the eggplant), then bring to a boil over medium-high. Set the second parchment round over the food, the cover the pot with the lid. Cook for 5 minutes, reduce to low and cook, undisturbed, for 35 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat, uncover and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Remove the parchment (and accumulated liquid on the top), then invert a serving platter onto the pot. Holding the platter against the pot, carefully invert the two together; leave the pot overturned on the platter and let rest for about 10 minutes. Slowly lift off the pot and, if needed, remove and discard the parchment.
- Gently shake the platter to create cracks in the top of the finished dish.