Cauliflower Maklouba “Upside down cauliflower pilaf”

Have you ever cooked upside down?
Makloubeh (which translates literally into upside down) is a famous Levantine one pot rice, spice and vegetable dish. You will find different variants of it throughout Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon.

Today I am sharing  my favorite version, cauliflower chicken makloubeh but you can use eggplants, a combination of eggplant and cauliflower, you can add potatoes,carrots or even chickpeas. Experiment and try different combinations and see which ones you like best.

Don’t like chicken?You can cook this using beef instead  or skipping the meat altogether and making it vegetarian.

The name makloubeh or upside down refers to the way this dish is served. You see, this dish is arranged and cooked in a pot and then it is flipped upside down to be served.

A while back Kristy posted an  Uzbek pilaf recipe and I told her it really reminded me of makloubeh minus the flipping. So here it is Kristy, arabic makloubeh as promised.

Before we get to the recipe, just a quick reminder to enter the sneakpeeq giveaway if you haven’t already

Cauliflower Makloubeh

2 cups short grain rice
1 head cauliflower
1 medium onion chopped
1 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons salt
3 pieces of chicken, thighs or breasts
7-8whole all spice berries
3-4 cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
3 tablespoons olive oil

toasted almonds and chopped parsley for decoration

Wash the rice and soak it in some warm water for 15-20 minutes then drain it, discard the water.
Cut the cauliflower into florets and then fry it until golden brown (You can brush it with oil and grill it if you don’t want to fry it but honestly it tastes better fried)
In a pot add the chicken, onion , whole all spice, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and then add enough water to submerge the chicken and rise above it by 3-4 cm
Cook the chicken until it is done (you can do this in a pressure cooker to save time, if you use a pressure cooker 3-5 minutes after it starts to whistle is more that enough) reserve the water, you will use it to cook the rice in it

To assemble the maqloubeh

In the pot you will cook it in start by adding the olive oil followed by a thin layer of rice.

Arrange the chicken  on top of it and fill the gaps with rice

Add a layer of cauliflower

then top with the remaining rice

Sprinkle the salt, all spice, cinnamon and cardamom on top

Add enough of the chicken broth  for it to submerge the rice and rise by 1-2 cm

Cook on very low heat, covered for 30-40 minutes (we are cooking on low heat because we don’t want it to boil and bubble because if it does it will spoil the arrangement of the layers)

Note: You can place a small plate on top of the last rice layer to help keep things in place

Allow to cool in the pot for 20-40 minutes this will help the layers hold together a little

Place your serving dish on top of the pot and flip the pot. You may tap the bottom of the pot gently to help the makloubeh slide off.

Decorate with toasted almond and chopped parsley and serve it with yogurt or a simple salad