Thursday, March 3, 2011

Recipe: What's for dinner tonight? How about Palestinian?

Never order food in excess of your body weight. – Erma Bombeck

Nazareth in Palestine. Photo: gnuckx, Flickr ccl
A one pot wonder here from the Middle East. This recipe has become a favorite. It's extremely easy to make and serves quite a few. The tastes are familiar yet exotic, especially with the fried cauliflower. 

Maqloobeh is a famous Palestinian dish. A Middle Eastern "home cooking" recipe, each village or town has their own unique version. Maqloobeh in Arabic means "invert or upside down" because the dish is inverted onto a serving tray before being brought to the table. 

A common version uses lamb and eggplant, but chicken and cauliflower is used equally. It can also be made vegetarian with the substitution of eggplant for the meat. Its usually a dish served on special occasions.

Photo: lexmccall, Flickr ccl
If you've never had fried cauliflower you HAVE to try it. There's absolutely no comparison between it and our bland steamed or boiled version. Absolutely none.

You need a fairly large flat saucepan or other covered stovetop pot to pull this off because the chicken needs to be spread in an even layer on the bottom of the pan. This is a great cold day recipe. If you want to make your own spice blend (baharat), the recipe follows.

This recipe is posted on, by baraahnz. Fantastic thing to share. To view the original recipe go to

I've changed the recipe to decrease the cooking time and amount this recipe makes. It doesn't hurt it at all.

Maqloobeh  ("Upside Down")
Prep 30 mins  | Cook: about 1 hour  | Serves 4 easily

Photo:, showing boneless chicken and pinenuts
4 chicken thighs and legs, cut apart (or substitute eggplant for vegetarian)
1 onion
2 tsp baharat (mixed spice available a specialty stores or make your own) or curry powder
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cups water
2 cups cauliflower
2 cups medium-grain uncooked rice (I use basmati, works very well)
1 cooked canned whole chickpeas
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon
natural plain yogurt for serving

Rinse the rice and drain in a colander.

Heat the oil in a large flat saucepan that has a cover. Salt and fry the chicken pieces until browned. They do not have to be cooked through but should be about 3/4 done. Remove and set aside. 

Add the cauliflower to the pan and cook until browned. Remove and reserve.

Fry the onion until golden. Sprinkle with the spices and stir. Add the chicken pieces back in the pot, then  arrange the cauliflower around and among them. Add the chickpeas and do the same. 

Pour the drained rice over the mixture and add in the water.

Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium low heat and cook for 20 minutes. At the end of the time the water will all be absorbed, the rice will be done and your kitchen will smell amazing.

To serve take a large platter, place it on top of the cooking pot and invert the contents onto the plate. The cooked chicken, rice and all will spill out in a very beautiful Middle Eastern pile of steaming goodness.


Baharat Spice Blend
Making Baharat is simplicity itself. Just measure and mix. This recipe is also from (posted by Aaliyah's&Aaron's mum). View original at

I've quartered the original recipe. It makes quite a bit for people who don't use this spice blend often, although I'm sure uses could be found…

1 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp paprika


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