When I come to think of the national dish of Palestine, I think of musakhan (layered dish of bread, onion and sumac topped with chicken and pine nut). But many others would think of maqluba.
Maqluba (means upside down in Arabic) is a very popular dish among Palestinians and Jordanians alike, they get really excited when it’s served on the table. It’s basically a layered pot of meat, vegetables and rice. Cooked all together and then flipped over a serving big flat platter, making this beautiful cake-like form.
Maqluba has a couple of variations in ingredients ; some make it with chicken and cauliflower, some prefer it with lamb and eggplant, while some others make it with cauliflower and eggplant, and add other vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, and green peppers. Vegetables can be deep fried or just slightly sautéed. It can be with or without meat.
- half cup vegetable oil, divided
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- half kilo lamb, cut in medium-size chops
- salt to taste
- 1.5 teaspoon allspice
- half teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 3 cardamom, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 kilo eggplant, peeled and sliced
- 3 tomatoes, sliced
- 1.5 cup rice, thoroughly washed
Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saucepan, add onions and lamb chops and stir over a medium heat for couple of minutes. Season with salt, black pepper, allspices, cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaf. Add 4 cups of water, cover the pot and let simmer until cooked (cooking time varies from an hour to two and half, depending on meat type).
Meanwhile, heat the rest of vegetable oil in large frying pan. Add eggplant slices and sauté both sides until golden brown. Place them on paper towel to absorb oil and set side.
In a big pot, add a small pinch of rice (to avoid burning of the meat). Arrange lamb chops, tomato slices, eggplant slices in layers. Pour lamb stock, and then add rice. Add a small pinch of salt (optional). Bring the pot to a boil over a medium heat. Then cover it and turn the heat down to low and let simmer until rice is cooked (from 20 to 30 minutes).
Leave the pot to cool for 15 to 20 minutes, and then carefully flip it up-side down over a serving platter. Serve hot with fresh yogurt or Arabic salad.