LONDON: Makloubeh is a traditional Palestinian dish that consists of meat, rice and fried vegetables placed in a pot, which 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 love 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.
1kg (2¼lb) lamb shoulder, cubed
2 onions, quartered
450ml (15ﬂ oz) vegetable oil
3 aubergines, peeled in stripes, leaving some skin intact, then sliced into 3cm (1¼ inch) rings
750g (1lb 10 oz) 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
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
150g (5½oz) whole skinned, blanched and toasted almonds
150g (5½oz) thick Greek yogurt, to serve
1. 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 one 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.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a separate pan and shallow fry the aubergine for 3 minutes on each side, then drain on kitchen paper and season with salt.
3. Tip the rice into a bowl, adding the cinnamon, pepper, salt and olive oil and mix well.
4. 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 aubergine, then top with rice. Repeat these layers, finishing with a layer of rice.
5. Cover with the reserved lamb cooking water to about 3cm (1¼ inch) 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.
6. 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.