Maqlubeh (Palestinian Upside-Down Chicken & Rice)

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
  1. In a large bowl, combine the rice and 2 tablespoons of coarse salt. Add water to cover by 1 inch, then set aside.
  2. 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.)
  3. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
  4. Set the pot over medium and heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering.
  5. 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.
  6. Remove the pot from heat. Place 1 parchment round on the bottom, then turn to coat it with fat.
  7. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the parchment-lined pot, then sprinkle evenly with the almonds.
  8. Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer, then rinse under cool running water and drain again.
  9. Scatter 1 cup of the rice in a thin, even layer over the almonds.
  10. 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.
  11. 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).
  12. Shingle the eggplant slices over the chicken in an even layer. Sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup rice-cauliflower mixture.
  13. 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.
  14. Remove the pot from the heat, uncover and let stand for 15 minutes.
  15. 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.
  16. Gently shake the platter to create cracks in the top of the finished dish.

Rocket Soup (Shorbat Jarjir)

This soup was absolutely heavenly. It was a purée of all of my favorite greens with added silkiness from a single potato. Perfection!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Yasmin Khan, author of Zaitoun. I weighed all of the greens, added fresh lemon juice, and increased the garlic. I also incorporated my homemade turkey stock but vegetable stock could be easily substituted to make a vegetarian version. The original recipe recommends the use of spicier, mature arugula. I was upset that I didn’t make a double batch. Next time! 🙂

Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 medium russet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock
  • 7 ounces arugula (I used wild baby arugula)
  • 5 1/4 ounces fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)
  • 1 ounce cilantro sprigs (about 1/2 packed cup)
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • plain whole-milk Greek yogurt, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring often, just until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in turmeric, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and allspice; cook, stirring often, 2 minutes.
  4. Add potato and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook until potato is tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Reserve a handful of arugula for garnish. Add spinach, cilantro, and remaining arugula to pan. Bring to a simmer over medium, and cook 10 minutes.
  6. Working in batches, transfer soup to a blender. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée the soup.) Secure lid on blender, and remove center piece of lid to allow steam to escape. Place a clean kitchen towel over opening. Process until smooth.
  7. Incorporate the fresh lemon juice.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, and divide among 4 bowls.
  9. Top each serving with a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt, some of the reserved arugula, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Red Lentil & Butternut Squash Soup (Shorabit Jarjir)

I absolutely LOVE red lentil soup. I have tried many versions and enjoy each one just as much as the last. This version seemed perfect for autumn with the incorporation of butternut squash. The squash added a subtle sweetness and beautiful color.

I made this wonderful velvety soup in advance to serve for lunch on Thanksgiving Day. (I am sure it freezes well!) This recipe was adapted from Saveur. I doubled the original recipe and decreased the amount of olive oil and red pepper flakes. We ate it with green salad and naan. Perfect.

Yield: Serves 12

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chile flakes
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 2 lbs) peeled, seeded, cubed, and then finely chopped
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 cups organic chicken stock
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • finely chopped parsley, for garnish
  • paprika, for garnish
  • flatbread (naan) and lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Finely chop the garlic, carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor.
  2. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, carrots, celery, and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized, 12 to 14 minutes.
  3. While the base is cooking, finely chop the cubed butternut squash in a food processor.
  4. Stir the cumin, chile flakes, squash, salt, and pepper into the carrot-celery-onion mixture; cook until squash is soft, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add stock and lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, slightly covered, until lentils are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Let soup cool slightly, then, working in batches, purée soup until smooth. (I used an immersion blender.)
  7. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with parsley and paprika; serve with flatbread and lemon wedges on the side.

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Palestinian Chicken

As much as I love trying new recipes, we made a gold standard summer meal for friends the other night. Palestinian chicken with Israeli couscous– we make it at least once a summer.

The whole milk Greek yogurt based marinade really makes the entire dish. It’s moist, tangy, and very flavorful with the addition of many spices. I have made it in the past with plain whole milk yogurt and with low-fat Greek yogurt but I was not as pleased with the results  – whole milk Greek yogurt is perfect. Simple and tasty- the kids enjoyed it too.

This recipe was adapted from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen. I recommend doubling the recipe. 🙂

  • 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts OR 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  1. Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, and cloves in a non-reactive baking dish.  (I use glass.) Whisk to blend.
  2. Add the chicken breasts or thighs, coat each completely with marinade, and arrange in one layer.
  3. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator, 4 hours to overnight. (The longer the better.)
  4. Preheat the grill. When ready to cook, oil the grill grate. Remove the chicken from the baking dish and grill until cooked through.

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