Upside-Down Lamb and Eggplant/ Maqluba


Upside-Down Lamb and Eggplant/ Maqluba

The way this dish is served, flipped over onto a serving platter, gives it its name—maqluba means “upside-down” in Arabic—the main language of the Middle East.Although most versions of the recipe call for the eggplant to be fried, broiling it reduces the fat, and it still tastes great.


        2 large eggplants; salt for sprinkling, plus ½ tsp.
        1 c. rice; 3 c. water
        3 to 4 tbsp. olive oil for brushing; 2 tbsp. olive oil
        ¼ c. pine nuts
        ¼ c. slivered or halved almonds (optional)
        1 lb. lean lamb, cut into bite-sized cubes*
        1 large onion, chopped (optional); ½  tsp. cinnamon
        ½  tsp. allspice; ¼ tsp. coriander
        ¼ tsp. cumin; ¼ tsp. black pepper.

*This dish can also be made with ground lamb or beef or cubed chicken.You can also make a vegetarian maqluba. Reduce the amount of water to 2 c. and, in place of meat, sauté 15 oz. canned chopped tomatoes with onions and nuts in Step 4.


1. Slice eggplants the long way into ½-inch-thick oblongs. Remove skin, sprinkle eggplant with salt, and place in a colander. Let sit 30 minutes.

2. Boil the water. Place rice in a medium mixing bowl. Pour half of boiling water over rice and let sit.

3. Turn broiler on to medium heat. Rinse eggplant well and pat dry. Brush olive oil lightly on both sides of each slice and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in broiler and cook 2 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from broiler.

4. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and almonds (if using). Cook, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes. Add lamb and sauté 5 to 6 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Add onions (if using), and all spices. Mix thoroughly and sauté 5 to 6 minutes.

5. Lightly oil a stockpot, preferably one with two handles. Place half of the lamb mixture in a layer on the bottom of the pot. Cover lamb with half the eggplant slices. Drain rice and spoon it evenly over eggplant. Add remaining meat and top with remaining eggplant.

6. Pour remaining 1½ cups hot water into stockpot. Place over medium low heat and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 30 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.

7. To serve, place a large platter over the opening of the pot. Have an adult help you lift the pot and turn it upside-down on top of the platter. Let sit 5 minutes before carefully removing the pot to reveal the maqluba, which will be molded in a cake form. Serve immediately.

Food: Upside-Down Lamb and Eggplant/ Maqluba

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