This is Chicken Maqluba – a popular Palestinian Arab dish which I made for dinner. Most people also think of it as the national dish of Palestine. It is made with lamb or chicken with vegetables and rice. It is basically a one pot dish of meat, vegetables and rice all layered and cooked together. Then the pot is flipped over on the serving platter to display the maqluba which is a sight to behold! I followed a recipe from You tube which I just tweaked a bit by using italian rice instead of falak basumati. Italian rice has that firm texture and nutty flavour which I thought would go well with the maqluba. Here’s the recipe:
Chicken – 1 Whole (1.5kgs)
Potatoes – 3-4 medium size
Egg plant – one large
Onion – 1 big
Butter – 1 tbs
Olive oil – 2 tbs
Vegetable oil for frying
Italian Rice – 3 cups
ghee (clarified butter) 2 tbs
Spices for the chicken:
Cinnamon powder – 1/2 tsp
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
All spice -1 tsp
Seven spice -1 tsp
Spices for the rice: Salt and pepper- 1/2 tsp each; All spice – 1/2 tsp; turmeric – 1 tsp.
1. De-skin the chicken, cut into 12 pieces at the joints, clean, wash, drain and keep aside.
2. Heat a tbs of butter in a big pot and add the diced onion to it.
3. When the onions sweat a little add the chicken to the pan followed by the spices and mix well. Keep turning over and brown the chicken in the pan.
3. Add 3 – 4 cups of water and let it cook for sometime till the chicken is done.
4.Slice the egg plants and potatoes separately. Rub a little salt and keep them aside for sometime. The egg plants sweat a little on rubbing salt. Press them gently to drain the water and wipe with paper towels. This way they don’t absorb oil when frying.
5. Deep fry them separately. Drain on paper towels.
6. Boil water in another pot. Add the rice. When the rice is 80% cooked, drain well, then add the spices to the rice, mix well and set aside.
7. Take a small round roaster and grease it with some clarified butter (1tsp) on the inside. Then sprinkle a little of the spiced rice at the bottom.
8. Now spread a layer of the chicken pieces (reserve the broth) on top of the sprinkled rice.
9. Then spread a layer of baked/fried egg plant on top of the chicken. Then a layer of potatoes on top of the egg plant or you can layer both together – one eggplant and one potato slice, all stacked together.
10. Finally add the spiced rice on top. Pour the reserved broth on top of the rice. Cover the roaster with the lid and place it in the pre-heated oven (at 350 degrees fahrenheit) for 15 mins till you see the steam gushing out as soon as you open the lid. Take care not to keep your face close to the roaster when you are uncovering the roaster. It is better to open it little by little.
11. Keep a round serving platter ready. Remove roaster lid and close it with the serving platter.
12. Put your oven gloves on (thick insulated ones) and holding the roaster bottom with one hand and the top of the closed serving platter with the other, overturn the roaster carefully on to the serving platter and slowly rest the serving platter on the counter top. Remember it is very hot so you have to do it very carefully and tactfully balancing it really well. Otherwise ask someone to help you.
13. Let this rest for 2 mins. Take a serving spoon and tap the roaster’s overturned bottom and all the sides slowly to release the maqlooba from sticking to it.
14. Lift the roaster up slowly to display the maqluba sitting majestically on the serving platter like a queen. The chicken is crisp and golden which was steaming at the bottom of the pot now crowns the dish on the top.The fried egg plant and potato slices like hidden gems add more to the glory. It is a dish beautiful to behold and delicious to eat. There is aroma in the air and many hungry stomachs to feed. Serve hot with yoghurt and salad on the side. Enjoy.