“Heat oil in pot; brown chicken (or beef or lamb), onions, garlic, and spices. Add water to cover and boil…” This is the start of many, many Mediterranean dishes. Once you have the cooked chicken and the richly flavored broth, you can go on create some really good meals, whether soups, stews, or grain-based dishes. I’ve added the tag “start with boiled chicken” to this recipe and will continue to use it for all such dishes.
Maqlouba is no exception, in this case we start with chicken. Maqlouba is a traditional Palestinian dish, whose name literally means “upside down”. It is a layered dish of meat, rice, and vegetables. Maqlouba usually features either cauliflower or eggplant as the main vegetable, to which you can add potatoes, carrots, chickpeas, tomatoes, peppers. When it is cooked, it is then flipped onto a serving platter. This particular maqlouba has chicken, cauliflower, potatoes, and carrots.
Traditionally, the vegetables are deep fried. I prefer to roast them, in order to cut down on the oil used.
A note about the chicken: the most common way to make maqlouba is to layer the chicken at the very bottom of the pot, then add the vegetables, then the rice. I personally prefer to remove the chicken to a baking sheet, drizzle or mist some oil on it, and broil. If you want to try it cooked in the rice, you start the layering with chicken, then vegetables, then rice.
The below recipe made enough for 2 adults and 2 kids, plus enough leftovers to have another complete meal.
Chicken Maqlouba with Cauliflower
4-6 lb chicken pieces
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp turmeric
1 bay leaf
3 cardamom pod
2 small potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
1 cauliflower, separated into florets
2 small carrots, peeled, halved crosswise, each half thickly sliced lengthwise
1 T cooking oil
1 T extra virgin oil
salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups jasmine rice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
Olive oil for drizzling over chicken (1-2 Tablespoons)
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon sumac
400 degrees 20-30 minutes. In a large bowl, place potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. Make sure all the vegetables have a coating of oil and spice. Place in baking tray and roast 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season chicken with onion, garlic, allspice, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper to taste, and cooking oil. Allow to marinate an hour if desired. Heat pot over medium-high heat. Add seasoned chicken including oil and all the seasoning ingredients, bay leaf, and cardamom. Stir over medium-high heat about 10 minutes. Add water to cover chicken and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until chicken is completely cooked.
Meanwhile, rinse rice with cold water until water runs clear. Cover with cold water, and allow to soak for 20 minutes.
One chicken is cooked, remove it to a baking tray. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the chicken, drizzle with some olive oil, and sprinkle with sumac.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, or till all the liquid is absorbed. (Broil chicken during the last 5 minutes that rice cooks)
Vegetarian variation: Prepare vegetables and rice for layering as in the original recipe. Instead of the chicken and the resulting broth, heat oil and cook onions, garlic, and spices. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Layer as in the recipe above, starting with vegetables, then rice. Add enough stock to cover rice, plus half an inch. Cook for 15-20 minutes until all stock has been absorbed. Flip onto a serving platter.