Dinner

Palestinian Maqluba {with vegan option}

Maqluba recipe is the perfect dish to feed a crowd. Maqluba is a popular dish in the Arab world, a Palestinian tradition, made with rice, meat and vegetables.

Total time 1 hour 10 minutes

Maqluba (also Maqlooba, Makloubeh or Maqlouba) is an upside down rice dish that is very common throughout the middle east. Layers of vegetables, spiced rice and meat cooked altogether then flipped for a stunning comfort food dinner.

Next time try the Jordanian Mansaf, a delicious lamb and rice recipe.

Close up of maqluba on a serving platter.
Maqluba/Makloubeh is an iconic dish throughout the middle east.

Don’t want to scroll through the page to get to the recipe? Use the table of contents below to click on the section you want to go to.

This is a one dish meal made traditionally with cauliflower, eggplants and potatoes. There are many variations to this dish in the region, but the method is the same. In this recipe I’ve used eggplants and ground beef but will show you variations of this dish and how to make them.

So here is a step by step guide to make the easiest foolproof Makloubeh to guarantee success each time

Jump to:

❓Why This Recipe Works

  • Made way healthier by not deep frying the vegetables.
  • Helpful tips so it will turn out beautifully without ending up with rice allover your countertop.
  • Perfectly spiced rice without going overboard.

Traditional maqluba calls for frying the vegetables, I like to oven roast the eggplants to make them lighter with far less oil than frying.

The way I am wrapping and preparing this dish is a foolproof way for the best maqluba that will not make a mess and spread all over your counter when you flip the dish.

📝 Ingredients

Note: This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the recipe card (printable) at the bottom of the page.

Maqluba ingredients placed on a white marble table.

📋 Ingredient Notes

  • Ground beef mixture above is made by browning the beef and adding all the spices. details about that are in the recipe card below.
  • My eggplants are oven baked but you are welcome to fry them if you want to.

🥄 Instructions

Note: This is an overview of the instructions. The detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.

A collage of 4 images showing how to prepare the base for maqluba.
  1. In a bowl, add rice, butter and spices. Mix them well.
  2. line the bottom and sides of a large pot or Dutch oven with parchment paper.
  3. Place tomato slices in the bottom of the dish then top that with the browned ground meat.
  1. Arrange eggplant slices so they are overlapping and hanging on the sides of the dish. Make sure to cover the bottom well.
  2. Add the rice mixture, pour boiling cooking liquid ( water or broth), then flip the hanging eggplant slices over the top of the pot to close. Bake the rice dish in a 400F preheated oven until rice is totally cooked. Let it cool down for 15 minutes then flip over your serving dish.

💡 Tips

  • Use a non stick pot with wide mouth, it is better not to use tall pots for even cooking. If tall pots is all you have then do not fill it to the top so the top layer of rice can get enough steam to cook.
  • Brush the bottom and sides of the dish/pot with oil before adding parchment paper, this helps keep them in place while you are filling your pot.
  • The hardest part of making maqluba is flipping it in the end. To ensure that it is not stuck at the bottom of the baking dish, I lined the dish with parchment paper to be extra sure that it will not stick.
  • Many people put the eggplant on the bottom of the baking dish, here I have wrapped eggplants around the rice. This ensures that the rice will not fly everywhere when you flip the dish plus it makes for a beautiful presentation.
  • You can cook maqluba on stove top too. Just layer everything in your pot as directed including the parchment paper, do not worry it will not burn, then bring to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to low, cover and continue to cook until done.

⌛ Make Ahead

  • You can prepare the vegetables and the meat you are using and store them in an airtight container in your fridge for 2 days before cooking the dish.

🍽️ Serve With

Serve maqluba with yogurt sauce or green salad like tabbouleh or fattoush.

🧺 Storage

Store any leftovers in a container in the refrigerator for up 2-3 days or a week if it vegan.

🤔 Troubleshooting

  • If the top layer of your rice does not seem to be fully cooked, splash the top with some water (¼ cup), cover and continue to cook for another 10 minutes then check again.
  • If when checking the rice it tasted a bit bland, dissolve some salt, black pepper and a dash more of the 7 spice mix in a ¼ cup of hot water then add to the pot, cover and continue to cook.

👩‍🍳 Variations

  • Maqluba can be made with any sort of meat you have, lamb, beef or chicken. Here I’ve used ground beef for simplicity as well but you can also use any of the above. Boil your meat of choice in flavored water until done, I usually use my instant pot as it is quicker but I am including stove top directions as well:
    • Beef Stew: Brown the meat in a a couple of tablespoons of oil then add then add a small quartered onion, a couple of green cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, ground black pepper, two bay leaves and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until done, this probably will take about an hour and a half stove top or almost 40 minutes in your instant pot.
    • Lamb Pieces: shoulder or leg is the best, but you can use whatever you like. Use the same cooking method as I have in the okra stew.
    • Chicken: commonly used are bone in skin on chicken pieces but as always you can use whatever you like to or already have in your freezer. Boil the chicken as we did in the Musakhan recipe.
  • You can use short grain rice but I like using basmati rice as it withstands the prolonged cooking time better without getting mushy.
  • Sometimes I add some onion rings and bell pepper after I arrange the tomato slices for more flavor and the bell pepper smells heavenly and makes the dish even more flavorful.
  • Traditionally the most common vegetables to use are eggplants, cauliflower and potato. You can use one, two or the three of them. You can also use any vegetables you have or like to add in this dish.
  • If using potatoes or cauliflower mix them with oil, salt and pepper then roast in the oven until done.
  • If you are using the three vegetables here is my suggestion for layering the dish. After the tomatoes and the ground beef, layer the sliced potatoes then eggplant then cauliflower then rice and proceed with the recipe as is. The reason for that is cauliflower florets are small and can fall off if we placed them at the bottom without something to hold them in.
  • For a vegan maqluba : Use olive oil instead of butter and omit the ground beef. You can use any vegan protein you like as well.

💬 Frequently Asked Questions

What type of rice to use in maqluba?

Maqluba traditionally is made with Egyptian rice( medium to short grain rice), but nowadays it is very common to be made with basmati or any other kind of rice. I used basmati rice as it is widely available in stores.

What vegetables used in maqluba?

The main vegetable is either eggplant or cauliflower. You can add bell peppers, chili peppers, onions, potato or diced tomatoes.

What other types of meat to use in maqluba?

Use whatever you like. You can make maqluba with chicken, beef cubes, ground turkey, ground beef… etc.

🥣 Equipment

The following are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

For this recipe I’ve used Aahu Barah basmati rice. It was recommended by a friend and I could easily find it here in the Middle Eastern store.

Maqluba on a white platter with a serving spoon in it.
  • Check out this Saudi chicken kabsa, a one pot chicken and rice dish that is perfectly spiced.
  • Another traditional chicken and rice dish is Mandi from Yemen.
  • Try my easy take on the Lebanese vermicelli rice, fuss free with half the usual time.
  • Mansaf is Jordan’s national dish of meat, yogurt and rice pilaf.

🎞️ Recipe At a Glance

I hope you’ll like this recipe and please if you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #amiraspantry — I love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter!
Don’t want to miss a recipe? Sign up for the FREE Amira’s Pantry newsletter delivered to your inbox with lots of tips and surprises!

If you like this recipe do not forget to give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ star rating and send me a photo of your finished dish. It is always a pleasure to see your photos and check your own take of the recipe. Thank you.

A top image of maqluba platter garnished with pine nuts.

Maqluba

Maqluba recipe is the perfect dish to feed a crowd. Maqluba is a popular dish in the Arab world, a Palestinian tradition, made with rice, meat and vegetables.

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Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Middle East, Palestine Cuisine

Diet: Halal

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Servings: 6 servings

Calories: 245kcal

Ingredients

For the ground beef mixture:

Instructions

  • Wash rice twice or 3 times, drain then place in a deep bowl, cover with cold rice and soak for 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile fry or oven bake the eggplants.

Brown the ground meat:

  • In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in oil then add ground beef and spices, mix well. Add the tomato paste and mix everything well, cook until browned all around. Set aside.

  • Preheat oven to 400F.

  • Line an oven safe dish with parchment paper.

  • Arrange tomato slice at the bottom of the pan.

  • Top that with a layer of the browned ground beef.

  • Arrange eggplant slices over the ground beef skin side out.

  • Add rice, then pour boiled water or broth over.

  • Fold the egg plants over the rice.

  • Cover and cook in the oven for 40 minutes.

  • Take the dish out fluff the rice on top and taste to make sure it is completely cooked.

  • If you feel it needs more water or broth add a quarter cup, cover then return to oven for another 10-15 minutes.

  • Let it cool down for 10 -15 minutes before flipping over the serving large plate.

  • Remove parchment papers and tomatoes on top, you can eat them if you want.

  • Garnish top with chopped parsley and roasted nuts.

  • Serve with Tzatziki or yogurt sauce.

Notes

  • Use a non stick pot with wide mouth, it is better not to use tall pots for even cooking. If tall pots is all you have then do not fill it to the top so the top layer of rice can get enough steam to cook.
  • Brush the bottom and sides of the dish/pot with oil before adding parchment paper, this helps keep them in place while you are filling your pot.
  • Many people put the eggplant on the bottom of the baking dish, here I have wrapped eggplants around the rice. This ensures that the rice will not fly everywhere when you flip the dish plus it makes for a beautiful presentation. 
  • Traditionally short and medium grain rice is used but it is common nowadays to use the long grain rice or Basmati rice.
  • If you deep fry your eggplants, you will need to put them on paper towels after frying so the dish will not be too oily. Also I recommend leaving out the butter so the dish will not be too greasy.
  • 7 spices are a combination of cumin, cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and sometimes paprika and cloves as well.
  • I used to fry the eggplants in the past, but if you want you can roast in the oven with some oil and salt.
  • Stove top directions:
    • Maqluba can be cooked enirely on the stove. Assemble the dish in your pot then place it on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and cook on low heat covered until it is done.
  • Serve with:
  • Make ahead:
    • You can prepare the vegetables and the meat you are using and store them in an airtight container in your fridge for 2 days before cooking the dish.
  • To store:
    • Store any leftovers in a container in the refrigerator for up 2-3 days or a week if it vegan.
  • Variations:
    • Maqluba can be made with any sort of meat you have, lamb, beef or chicken. Here I’ve used ground beef for simplicity as well but you can also use any of the above. Boil your meat of choice in flavored water until done, I usually use my instant pot as it is quicker but I am including stove top directions as well:
      • Beef Stew: Brown the meat in a a couple of tablespoons of oil then add then add a small quartered onion, a couple of green cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, ground black pepper, two bay leaves and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until done, this probably will take about an hour and a half stove top or almost 40 minutes in your instant pot.
      • Lamb Pieces: shoulder or leg is the best, but you can use whatever you like. Use the same cooking method as I have in the okra stew.
      • Chicken: commonly used are bone in skin on chicken pieces but as always you can use whatever you like to or already have in your freezer. Boil the chicken as we did in the Musakhan recipe.
    • Sometimes I add some onion rings and bell pepper after I arrange the tomato slices for more flavor and the bell pepper smells heavenly and makes the dish even more flavorful.
    • Traditionally the most common vegetables to use are eggplants, cauliflower and potato. You can use one, two or the three of them. You can also use any vegetables you have or like to add in this dish.
    • If using potatoes or cauliflower mix them with oil, salt and pepper then roast in the oven until done.
    • If you are using the three vegetables here is my suggestion for layering the dish. After the tomatoes and the ground beef, layer the sliced potatoes then eggplant then cauliflower then rice and proceed with the recipe as is. The reason for that is cauliflower florets are small and can fall off if we placed them at the bottom without something to hold them in.
    • For a vegan maqluba : Use olive oil instead of butter and omit the ground beef. You can use any vegan protein you like as well.
  • Please check nutrition disclaimer policy here.

Nutrition

Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 235mg | Potassium: 409mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 211IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg

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First published August 5, 2015 . Last updated December 20, 2021 with important tips, clear step by step instructions and readability.

👩‍🏫 My Experience

I had so many friends from Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon when I was growing up. My late dad worked in KSA for a long time and we used to spend summer breaks there. We had gatherings at least once a week with loads of delicious food.

I was introduced to maqluba at an early age and I loved it especially when it was made with chicken or ground beef. My late father was a huge fan and I’ve finally perfected the recipe so it is easier to flip and looks fancy.

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