Makloubeh is a traditional Palestinian dish that consists of meat, rice, and fried vegetables cooked in a pot. The dish is then flipped upside-down when served — hence the name makloubeh, which translates literally as “upside-down.” We often make this dish for important events, such as Eid, Ramadan, and family birthdays, as it is a labor of love. The cinnamon in the rice really makes this dish stand out. It’s absolutely worth the effort involved and a real showstopper. My whole family loves this dish — we make it in many different ways, but this version is the one I like the most. I personally like adding potatoes to it, but I have stuck to the way my mother makes it here. My niece Thalia absolutely adores it — she only eats it when my mother cooks it, as she says it makes her tummy happy.
Excerpted from the cookbook Palestine on a Plate, by Joudie Kalla,
- 2 1/4 Pounds lamb shoulder, cubed
- 2 onions, quartered
- 450 Milliliters vegetable oil
- 3 eggplants, peeled in stripes, leaving some skin intact, then sliced into 3-centimeter (1 1/4-inch) rings
- 750 Grams Egyptian rice (or pudding or basmati rice)
- 3 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 Teaspoons black pepper
- 3 Teaspoons sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- 150 Grams whole almonds, skinned, blanched, and toasted
- 150 Grams thick Greek yogurt, to serve
Put the lamb and onions in a saucepan, cover with water without stirring, and then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, covered with a lid. Remove any scum that appears on the surface and keep doing this until no more scum appears. Once the meat is cooked, remove it from the water but keep the water in the pan.
Heat the vegetable oil in a separate pan and shallow fry the eggplant for 3 minutes on each side, then drain on kitchen paper and season with salt.
Tip the rice into a bowl, adding the cinnamon, pepper, salt, and olive oil, and mix well.
Arrange the tomatoes in the base of a deep pan. Scatter a handful of rice over the tomatoes and layer half the lamb on top, followed by half the eggplant, then top with rice. Repeat these layers, finishing with a layer of rice.
Cover with the reserved lamb cooking water to about 3 centimeters (1 1/4 inches) over the top (add a little more water if you don't have enough) and cover with a lid. Simmer over a medium-low heat for 30–40 minutes without stirring at all — once cooked, you want to be able to tip the dish out in one piece, like a cake.
Leave to cool slightly, then place an upturned plate larger than the mouth of your pan on top and carefully turn everything over to flip the makloubeh onto the plate. Sprinkle with the parsley and toasted nuts and serve with yogurt.