Main Dishes Recipe Index

Maqloubeh: Palestinian Upside-Down Rice Dish

Eid Sa’eed, everyone! Today marks the end of the month-long fasting during Ramadan, and in true Arab style, what’s a celebration without amazing food? Today I bring to you a family favorite and regional specialty: Maqloubeh.
Maqloubeh means “upside down” in Arabic; true to it’s name, this dish is inverted once cooked then left to rest a few moments to take shape of the pan. It’s a magic moment, a moment of truth, if you will… I remember peeking around my mom’s side as she flipped it over and lifted the pan, garnishing it all with golden brown pine nuts and almonds. I reveled in that moment of suspense, despite knowing that hers would turn out just right, as it always had.
Maqloubeh is a humble, distinctly Palestinian dish of layered meat, rice and vegetables all spiced with the signature baharat, which includes cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg. My favorite combination is chicken and eggplant, but it’s also common to use carrots, cauliflower or lamb. it can very easily be made vegetarian by substituting the meat for an additional round of veggies (ie eggplant and carrot). I suspect that historically, many families omitted the meat at times when it was not readily or affordably available.
In this adaptation I used cauliflower because we had a fresh one on hand. Using cauliflower – over eggplant, let’s say – alters the presentation slightly. The cauliflower creates a dotted presentation, whereas eggplant (since it’s smooth and can be placed in a sheet-like layer above the chicken) results a more perfectly layered, almost terrine-like, presentation once the pot is inverted. So, if you’re cooking for guests and going for presentation, eggplant is a great choice.
Eid Sa’eed to all who celebrate, and bon appetit to those who don’t but love the food anyway. Round out your Eid table with this maqloubeh and other traditional Middle Eastern recipes from this month’s Ramadan feature: 
    – Marinated olives
Many more Arabic favorites under the “Middle Eastern” tag as well, and many more to come.


500g / 1lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 fresh cauliflower, cut in medium-sized florets (or, 1 large eggplant, sliced thinly legthwise)
2 cups rice (basmati or long grain white are best), rinsed
Generous sprinkling of spices: garlic powder, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves (or the first three + pre-mixed Arabic baharat)
2 1/2 or 2 3/4 cups chicken stock or water. Either way, season with a pinch more of above spices.
Pine nuts and slivered almonds, toasted or browned in olive oil
Canola oil, for sauteeing
Optional: pinch of saffron or turmeric, for color

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Season generously with garlic, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves on both sides. Heat enough canola oil to slick the bottom of a large pot, and place the chicken in the pot to brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and set aside.
If using cauliflower: add the cauliflower to the same pot and allow to brown and absorb the flavors from the seasoned chicken, cooking about halfway through. If using eggplant: rub each side of the thin eggplant slices with olive oil and broil in the oven until golden and just tender. Set aside.
Place the chicken back into the pot, spreading it out to create an even layer. Create a second layer out of the cauliflower or eggplant to cover the chicken. Evenly spread the rice over the vegetable layer and top with the chicken stock and pinch of saffron or turmeric. Taste for seasoning and add a drop more canola oil.
Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is done, about 20-25 minutes.Remove from the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes. Invert the pan onto a serving dish, then let sit another 10 minutes to hold its shape. Gently remove the pan and garnish with the browned pine nuts and almonds.

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  • Reply Ethan Deutsch 05/09/2017 at 11:33 am

    Since you’re a writer, I want you to know that for vegetarians you would be substituting the vegetable for the meat, not the meat for the vegetable.

  • Reply Le freekeh, tu ne sais pas ce que c'est? - Solivr - Made in Palestine 10/03/2017 at 10:30 am

    […] sert d’accompagnement pour une multitude de plats moyen-orientaux. Notamment le très connu Maqloubeh, le plat servi […]

  • Reply Jonathan 15/06/2016 at 10:24 am

    Hi! I made this recipe at home, I wanted to try something I’ve never had before and it turned out great. I’m not Arab so the only ‘Arab’ food I know is Shawarma basically. Here’s how it turned out:

  • Reply Israa Issa 28/04/2016 at 3:56 am

    OMG! that’s a very typical Palestinian Dish! I swear this is the best food on earth. Though you made me home sick. I will cook it tomorrow for my colleagues, we are having an international day at my university, no one knows any thing about Arab food, they will definitely love it:)

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  • Reply Recipes inspired by Mom: A birthday tribute | Wandering Spice 06/02/2014 at 9:52 pm

    […] so many more. Her sweet potatoes, her favorite apple and walnut cake from 1960s Kuwait, her maqloubeh (upside-down rice). And undoubtedly, many more to come. Happy birthday and thanks, […]

  • Reply Sayadiyeh: Arabic Fish and Saffron Rice with Tahini and Nuts | Wandering Spice 10/11/2013 at 11:08 pm

    […] maqloubeh, sayadiyeh is traditionally prepared by frying chunks of firm white fish and onions, then layering […]

  • Reply whitecardigan1 01/03/2012 at 5:32 pm

    The recipe sounds very interesting..very fit for the festival!..

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  • Reply Anonymous 26/09/2011 at 3:33 pm

    Yasmeen the food looks yummy , you make me cook it.
    Maha Karjawally

  • Reply Ambara 17/09/2011 at 7:56 pm

    Yasmeen, this is so lovely, the blog is awesome and inspiring, and this dish reminds me of my mom “allah yirhamha” that was her specialty and my favourite too.
    All the best.
    Abeer Karjawally.

  • Reply Junia 08/09/2011 at 2:32 am

    the upside down rice looks fantastic! thanks for participating in our #ricelove bloghop. unfortunately, the bloghop is only for recipe posts made in the month of september. we would love for you to submit another recipe rice post anytime this month! hope to see you link up :).

  • Reply Elizabeth of QueensNotebook 06/09/2011 at 4:24 pm

    That is some delicious rice delight! It was fun cooking along with you on this #ricelove event!

  • Reply Baker Street 06/09/2011 at 4:57 am

    Eid Mubarak Yasmeen! I’m sure that dish was super delicious! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing it for the blog hop.

  • Reply Spicie Foodie 03/09/2011 at 8:31 pm

    Happy Eid Yasmeen. My friend recently told me about this holiday and all the celebrations and food that go with it. What a delicious dish to celebrate with but perfect for any occasion. Thank you for your recent comment on my blog.

  • Reply Heavenly Housewife 03/09/2011 at 12:35 pm

    What a beautiful and elegant dish! I’d love to make this for my husband!
    *kisses* HH

  • Reply Yasmeen 02/09/2011 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks you guys! Such lovely feedback.

    @Hannah, thanks for coming back! I’ll look into the phone thing, as I also don’t use an iphone.

    @Cassandra, yes I have a baharat mix, will share soon!

    @Sue, you rock. Just visited your blog and your maqloubeh looks great. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply Sue/the view from great island 02/09/2011 at 12:07 pm

    Yasmeen, I blogged about trying this dish, thought you’d want to know…it was delicious!

  • Reply Nuha 01/09/2011 at 5:10 pm

    eid saeed habibti! you’re right, this is one of my favorite dishes 🙂 I’m more of a cauliflower and carrots girl…alaa likes it with, wait for it, chick peas…i thought he was mistaken when he told me , but apparently in nablus they put chickpeas in everything?

  • Reply penny aka jeroxie 01/09/2011 at 12:30 pm

    Oh wow! I want to try cooking this. And Eid Sa’eed! Hope I said it right?

  • Reply msihua 01/09/2011 at 9:57 am

    Eid Mubarak! Such an amazing dish!! Enjoy yourself 🙂

  • Reply Lau@Corridor Kitchen 01/09/2011 at 8:06 am


  • Reply sarah nicole 31/08/2011 at 11:58 pm

    You blog always makes me hungry! I would love to try this with veggies.



  • Reply Hannah 31/08/2011 at 1:16 pm

    I actually read this on my phone at work this morning but my non-iphone phone wouldn’t let me comment! I’m glad I came back, though, because this truly is a magnificent dish and I know my parents would absolutely love it. I’ll have to make it for them next time I go to their place to steal their internet 😉

  • Reply Srivalli 31/08/2011 at 11:45 am

    The recipe sounds very interesting..very fit for the festival!..

  • Reply ♥●• Izdiher·•●♥ 31/08/2011 at 10:19 am

    Eid saeed .

    Yummy Yummy dish .I wanna try it .

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  • Reply ♥●• Izdiher·•●♥ 31/08/2011 at 10:16 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Reply ImSoVintage 31/08/2011 at 10:01 am

    Sounds delicious. Happy new follower from Tasty Tuesday.

  • Reply Cassandra @foodmyfriend 31/08/2011 at 7:44 am

    Oh yum! Do you have a recipe for a home made baharat? 🙂

  • Reply Kim L. 31/08/2011 at 2:24 am

    That looks absolutely delicious. Yummmm!
    Reminds me of Malaysian food and now I miss home. 🙁

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  • Reply Adriana 31/08/2011 at 1:00 am

    This looks great,definitely my type of spice!Very similar to a Biryani and I love the use of cauliflower. I think it would lend it’s self to beef well. Thanks for the share.

  • Reply kankana 30/08/2011 at 7:02 pm

    Eid Mubarak! This is looking soo delicious and using cauliflower in a dish like this is unique to me. It’s almost like biryani ..right ?

  • Reply Rosa's Yummy Yums 30/08/2011 at 6:04 pm

    A great dish! Very intriguing and surely scrumptious.



  • Reply Reem | Simply Reem 30/08/2011 at 1:53 pm

    Eid Mubarak… What a delicious dish.
    Lovely post…. You have a really nice blog, I am glad to be here.

  • Reply bird and tree 30/08/2011 at 12:50 pm

    This looks so delicious! I also love that you included so of the “history”/ “story” behind the dish…to me that is just as important as ingredients and taste…it’s appreciation.

  • Reply Sue/the view from great island 30/08/2011 at 12:20 pm

    I’m so excited about this recipe, I’ve been looking for one to try. All the ingredients and spices sound so wonderful. What cut of lamb would be traditional?

  • Reply Candace 30/08/2011 at 12:06 pm

    I think this would make a fantastic breakfast, Yasmeen. I know I would certainly dig into it this morning if it were here. It looks absolutely fantastic. I love the food you feature here. Hope you are having a wonderful week!

  • Reply Anh 30/08/2011 at 11:54 am

    Eid Mubarak!! How I wish I had this today (just to be super greedy! :D)

  • Reply sliceofmylyfe 30/08/2011 at 11:49 am

    Eid Mubarak. Fabulous rice dish and that I can do a vegetarian version, makes me bookmark it right away.

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