Maqluba(Upside Down Lamb & Rice)

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This classic Middle Eastern recipe can be spelled in a variety of ways: Maqluba, Maklouba, or Maqlooba.  I guarantee you’ll love this maqluba recipe as much as I do.

What is Maqluba?

Maqluba is a traditional Syrian, Iraqi, Palestinian, and Jordanian dish. The dish consists of meat, rice, and fried (or baked) vegetables placed in a pot. After cooking, this pot is flipped upside down and served, turning the contents over giving it a layered appearance. It is many centuries old and is often theorized to have been invented in the 13th century.
The types of vegetables most often included in this rice dish are cauliflower and eggplant.

Other vegetables added are usually based on what the cook has in the home at the time, which can be things like potatoes or carrots.

The meats that are commonly used in Maklouba are chicken or lamb; eggplant paired with lamb, and cauliflower with chicken.

To garnish Maklouba, it is best to add toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds along with chopped fresh parsley.

Great side dishes to include with this recipe are a simple salad or a yogurt based sauce.

Whatever sides you make should be appropriately large because this recipe is made for feasts. It is the perfect dish when you have lots of mouths to feed, because you can always add to the recipe.

It is a dish that you can make on relatively short order, and it is definitely a crowd pleaser.

How To Make Maqluba

I begin by slicing the eggplant in rounds. Traditionally the eggplant is fried, but as you may know eggplant loves sucking up liquid, and when fried becomes utterly greasy. Very tasty, but very greasy.

Instead, like to pour some olive oil into wide skillet and dip each side of the eggplant round in it, just to soak up little oil.
If you want to absorb even less oil, you can use pastry brush. It is entirely up to your personal preference. If preferred, use paper towels to wipe away any remaining oil from  the eggplant.
Bake these in the oven for around 20 minutes or until brown. Lay the lamb chops out on a tray and season with salt and pepper. Place these in the oven and roast until brown, set aside. In a bowl, mix the rice with the spice mix and a teaspoon of salt until well combined.
Once you have all these components, it’s time to construct your dish! Check below for step-by-step recipe. There are a couple of variations with this dish, one is made with lamb and eggplant, and the other with chicken and cauliflower. You can also make a vegetarian version by using canned chickpeas as a substitute for the meat if you want. I prefer the lamb and eggplant version, it feels and tastes so much more a substantial meal.

Recipe Notes & Variations 

  • Use a non-stick baking dish: this makes it easier to flip out and maintain a beautiful presentation. You should also make sure the dish isn’t too narrow, or else the rice may now be cooked through evenly.
  • If the rice is undercooked: I recommend using a teaspoon to test a little of the rice before serving it. If it’s underbaked, add extra ¼-1/2 cup water or stock and return to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes.
  • Don’t under-season: it’s crucial to season every layer of the vegetable maqluba so that it doesn’t taste bland. Depending on how salty your stock is, adjust the seasoning accordingly.
  • Pack it tightly: if you want the maqluba to turn out well, then make sure to pack it tightly into the baking dish, pressing it down with a spatula.
  • Experiment with grains: once you have the method sorted with rice, you can experiment with other grains like freekeh, farro, or bulgur (adjusting the cooking time and stock amount).

How To Serve

Now comes the fun part! Get a large plate and place it over the top of your pot. In one swift motion, using oven mitts, hold the pot handles against the platter and flip your pot so it is now upside down.

Let the pot settle for a minute, then with careful dexterity, gently lift your pot to reveal your wonder!

This can be a show stopping dish when it comes time to serve it, so make sure your guests watch. As you lift the pot off the food to unveil your masterpiece to your guests you always feel a bit of magic!

Enjoy the substantial flavors, and little bit of drama this food provides!

How To Make Ahead And Store

Make ahead: there are several ways that you can cut down on the prep of this dish by making elements in advance. For example, you can bake the eggplant in advance and store, covered in the refrigerator for up to two days. Likewise, the onion and soy mince mixture can be cooked 2-3 days in advance and stored, covered in the fridge.

You can also prepare the entire dish a day in advance. Add 2-3 tablespoon of water or stock back to the dish before reheating in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until heated through.

Fridge: store any leftover vegetable maqluba in the refrigerator, covered for 2-3 days.

Freeze: allow to cool, then transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to a month. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

Reheat: reheat the vegetable maqluba in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of water to help soften the rice again. The vegetables will be softer after freezing, but the taste is still amazing!

This is such a quick and easy recipe to make, I hope you enjoy this unique Maqluba!

Maqluba Recipe

This perfect recipe has all four food groups. It is inspired by the Arabic dish called 'Maqluba,' which translates to 'upside down.' When the meal has finished cooking, you take the pot and flip it upside down onto a large serving platter, and everybody helps themselves.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 4


  • 7 cups of water
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 pinch salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooking oil
  • 2 cups lamb meat, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch slices
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 (16 ounces) container plain yogurt


  • Bring to a boil the water, onion, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, garam masala, salt, and pepper in a large pot.
  • Add the lamb; reduce the heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Separate the lamb from the liquid and set aside. Transfer the liquid to a bowl.
  • While the lamb mixture simmers, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat.
  • Fry the eggplant slices in the hot oil, assuring the pieces do not touch, until brown on both sides; remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Use the same procedure to fry the zucchini and the cauliflower.
  • Cook the broccoli in the oil until hot and remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.Layer the lamb into the bottom of the large pot.
  • Arrange the eggplants, zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower on top of the beef in layers.
  • Pour the rice over the beef and vegetables, shaking the pot gently to allow the rice to settle into the dish.
  • Pour the reserved liquid from the beef over the mixture until it is completely covered. Add water if needed.
  • Cover the pot and simmer over low heat until the rice is soft and the liquid is absorbed, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the lid from the pot.
  • Place a large platter over the pot and flip the pot so the dish is 'upside down' on the platter.
  • Serve with yogurt on the side.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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