Skip to main content

How to make Palestinian maqluba | Dine & Discover

Join us in a new video series as we learn about some of the region's famed dishes
Maqluba means 'upside down' in Arabic, so flipping this pot is essential (MEE)

Dine & Discover is a nine-week series, with a new episode published weekly on YouTubeInstagram and Facebook - so do make sure to subscribe. 

Hello. I'm Dina Macki and welcome to the fifth episode of Dine & Discover.

In the coming weeks, I'll be taking you through a series of recipes famed across the MENA region that you can easily recreate in your own homes. 

Literally meaning "upside down" in Arabic, maqluba, a Palestinian dish, is widely known and made in similar ways across the Middle East. It is truly one to pull out all the stops for and impress your friends.

Think of it as a savoury upside-down cake with aromatic layers of aubergines, potatoes, rice and lamb. It's your one-stop pot with no right way of layering it. The only thing this calls for is a bit of arm strength for that ever-so-important flip!

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Watch the video above to see how it's done. There's also a recipe below with the details to ensure that you don't miss anything out.

I hope you enjoy it. Don't forget to share your creations with me by tagging @meediscover

See you next week. 


Serves: 4-6 people

Preparation and cooking time: Preparation: 1 hour. Cooking: 1 hour 30 minutes

Topping Maqlouba

1. Ingredients

  • 1kg of lamb cubes (shoulder) 
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp whole cumin
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 tsp ground black pepper
  • Veg oil for deep frying
  • 1 aubergine, sliced lengthways
  • 1 aubergine, sliced into circles
  • 2 large potatoes, sliced
  • 3 cups of rice - pre-washed and soaked for approximately 2hrs
  • 1 tsp seven spice
  • 3 tsp cumin powder
  • 3 tsp black pepper 
  • 3 tsp cinnamon 
  • Salt
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • Fresh parsley 
  • 150g Cashews 
  • 150g pine nuts

2. Method

1. Chop your lamb into roughly 1-inch cubes, leaving some of the fat on - this will keep the meat nice and tender. 

2. Take your lamb, thickly sliced onion, garlic paste, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, whole cumin, bay leaves, pepper and salt and put them all into one stockpot and add enough water to cover. Mix well and leave to simmer on a medium heat for roughly 20 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through. 

Cooking your lamb

3. In the meantime, slice up your aubergines and potatoes. Deep fry them on a high heat until they are golden and crispy. Set aside on paper towels to help soak up any excess oil.

4. Drain any water from your pre-soaked rice. Now take your seven spice, ground cumin, black pepper, cinnamon and salt and mix all of them into the rice well. 

5. Once your meat has finished cooking, set aside - do not drain the water, you will need this stock later. 

6. Layer the bottom of your maqluba pot with sliced tomatoes first, then add your long aubergine slices and line the sides of your pot. Add a layer each of rice, potatoes, lamb, rice, aubergine circles, lamb and rice. Continue to repeat until the final layer is a layer of rice. 

7. Take your lamb stock and pour it over your layers until you see the water rise to just beneath the first couple of layers. 

Layering your maqlouba

8. Place on a medium heat, with the lid on, and cook for roughly 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is soft. 

9. Once cooked, allow to cool slightly before attempting the grand flip!

10. To decorate your beautiful maqluba, lightly toast some cashews and pine nuts and chop up a handful of fresh parsley. Sprinkle them all over and enjoy. 

Flipping Maqlouba
Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.