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Makloubeh Recipe

Though it takes a little effort, this gorgeous and classic dish is a real showstopper.
Makloubeh Recipe
Photo by Johanna Derry

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 labour of love.

Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2 hours


2 1/4 pounds lamb shoulder, cubed
2 yellow onions, quartered
15 ounces vegetable oil
3 eggplants, peeled in stripes, leaving some skin intact, then sliced into 3cm (1¼ inch) rings
3 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
1 pound Egyptian rice (or pudding or basmati rice)
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
5 1/2 ounces whole skinned, blanched and toasted almonds
5 1/2 ounces thick Greek yogurt, to serve


1. Put the lamb and onions in a large saucepan, cover with water, and, without stirring, bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered, for 1 hour, or until tender. Remove any scum that appears on the surface and keep doing this until no more scum appears. Once the meat is cooked, transfer to a boil using a slotted spoon and reserve the cooking liquid.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a separate pan and shallow fry the eggplants for 3 minutes on each side, then drain on kitchen paper and season with salt to taste.


3. Tip the rice into a bowl, along with the 3 teaspoons salt, the cinnamon, pepper, and olive oil. Stir well to combine.

4. Arrange the tomatoes in the base of a deep saucepan. Scatter a handful of rice over the tomatoes and layer half the lamb on top, followed by half the eggplant, then top with rice. Repeat these layers, finishing with a layer of rice.

5. Cover with the reserved lamb cooking liquid to about 3 cm (1¼ inch) over the top (add a little more water if you don't have enough) and cover it with a lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook over medium-low for 30 to 40 minutes, without stirring. 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.

Author's Note: This recipe is courtesy of Joudie Kalla's cookbook, Palestine on a Plate: Memories from my mother's kitchen.

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