Maha Sarsour’s Maqluba from the New York Times
Maqluba is a Palestinian dish whose name means “upside-down” in Arabic. It is a chicken and rice dish that is simmered with boiled chicken, vermicelli noodles, fried vegetables and lots of warm spices – then flipped out, upside-down, onto a plate for serving. The recipe has been around since at least the 13th century.
Our colleague Sarah, who spent the spring semester in Amman, Jordan, will be helping us out with the preparation of this Middle Eastern dish. Read through the instructions before starting – it sounds intimidating, but it’s really pretty straightforward! (I found it easiest to prep all the parts – boil the chicken, clean the rice, fry the veg, then fry the noodles and rice – have everything ready, then assemble and start cooking the final pot about 40 minutes before you want to serve it. All the individual pieces will take about an hour to an hour and a half, and it’s ok if the ingredients are at room temp when you start the final process.)
Make sure you read the entire recipe before you start so you understand the process. But don’t be scared – it’s all easy!
3½ # Bone-in Chicken Pieces (Leave the skin on as well for best flavor.)
1½ teasp Ground Black Pepper
1 teasp Cumin
6 Whole Cloves
6 Whole Green Cardamom Pods
3 Bay Leaves
1 Small Onion, cut in wedges
1 # Eggplant
2½ C Long Grain Rice
1 liter Vegetable or Olive Oil (Olive oil will give the best flavor, but you’ll use a lot.)
5-8 Medium Carrots, peeled and cut into 2”-3” pieces
1-2 Medium Potato, cut into ½” slices
1 head Cauliflower, cut into florets
¾ C Vermicelli Noodles, broken into small pieces (spaghetti works too!)
1 teasp Turmeric
¾ teasp Cinnamon
½ teasp Allspice
¼ teasp Ground Cloves
3 cloves Garlic, grated
¼ C Pine Nuts
Yogurt (optional) for serving
The day (or at least a few hours) before you are going to cook the Maqluba, place the chicken in a large pot (a 5qt Dutch oven is ideal, but heavy for flipping) and season well with salt, 1 teaspoon of the ground black pepper, ground cumin, cloves, cardamom pods and bay leaves. Cover and refrigerate.
Cut the eggplant into ½” thick half moons. Season with salt and let sit 30 minutes.
Rinse the rice well and drain, then pour 3 cups of boiling water over it and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain well. Set aside.
To the chicken, add the onion wedges, 1 tablespoon of salt and 4½ C water.
Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
Drain the chicken into a bowl so you can save the broth, but discard the onion and spices.
Heat ½” oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
Add the carrots, turning occasionally until browned. Drain on paper towels, and lightly salt.
Repeat with the potatoes.
Repeat with the cauliflower.
Press the eggplant dry using paper towels, and fry that as well. (Don’t salt the eggplant.)
Pour out the oil except for about 2½ tablespoons, and toss in the vermicelli, cooking until brown. Add the drained rice and cook, stirring, to dry it out a bit..
Add 1 tablespoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon,allspice, ground cloves, and garlic, and cook until fragrant – stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.
Place the chicken back in the pot or Dutch oven, skin-side down. This is the bottom layer.
On top of the chicken, layer the vegetables.
Pour the rice/vermicelli on top and press down.
Pour in 4 cups of the reserved chicken broth. Add more broth or water as needed to just reach the same level as the rice.
Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir just the rice, then cover and continue cooking.
Repeat the stirring of the rice after another 10 minutes.
At the end of another 10 minutes (30 minutes total) the rice should be cooked and the broth absorbed. (There may be a little broth left, so be extra careful when you flip it. Wear an apron!)
Place a large plate over the top of the pot and carefully but quickly invert the dish. This can be difficult as the pot will be fairly heavy. Make sure you have a good grasp in both the plate and the handles.
Do not remove the pot. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet and gently brown the pine nuts, then drain.
Lift off the pot to reveal your Maqluba!
Scatter the pine nuts over the top.
Serve with yogurt and a simple salad of cucumbers and tomatoes.