Palestinian Upside Down

Maqloobeh is a Palestinian dish and it means upside down. The name describes how it’s cooked, the things you put on the bottom of the pot will be on top when served, just like upside down cake. Maqloobeh is usually made of rice, eggplant and lamb or chicken, but it can also include cauliflower and other vegetables. Our vegan maqloobeh is made of rice, eggplant and soy cutlets and it’s based on this recipe. The recipe makes a huge amount of food (enough for 6-8), so better invite friends for dinner, or freeze the leftovers.



10-12 dry soy cutlets
1 big eggplant or 2 small/medium
3-4 potatoes
2 onions
5 big garlic cloves
1 l rice, soaked 10 minutes in water and drained
a lot of oil for frying
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

spice mix:
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp all spice
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cardamom
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Boil the soy cutlets in water according the instructions on the package. Drain and allow to cool a little. Meanwhile grind all the spices together. When the soy cutlets aren’t too hot to handle, rub half of the spice mixture on them. Allow to marinade half an hour or longer.

Slice the eggplant 1 cm thick slices, smaller eggplants can be sliced lengthwise. Sprinkle salt on them and let them “cry” for half an hour, OR soak them in salted water for half an hour. Wipe dry with tissue paper. Peel and slice the potatoes. Peel and chop onions and garlic cloves. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant slices both sides until a little browned, they don’t need to be completely cooked. Set aside. Add more oil if needed and fry the potatoes next, again until lightly browned. Set them aside too. Add more oil and quickly fry the onions and garlic until soft. Set aside. Last, but not least, add more oil and fry soy cutlets until browned. Set aside, and add 1,5 litres water to the pan, or as much as you can. Turn the heat on high to warm the water.

Arrange the soy cutlets into a big pot (5 l pot is good). Cover them with eggplant slices. Put the potatoes and onions to the pot next. Next put the soaked rice and sprinkle the remaining spice mix and some salt on top. Put a plate on the rice to prevent spices and onions to rise on top of the rice. Carefully pour the heated water (doesn’t need to be boiling hot) on the plate, so it flows nicely to the pot and doesn’t stir the rice. If you didn’t manage to heat all 1,5 litres on the pan, add more water to get total 1,5 l to the pot. Heat on medium heat until the water starts to bubble a little and then simmer on low heat until the rice is fluffy (30 minutes or so). Don’t stir!

This is the trickiest part of making maqloobeh. Put a large serving plate on top of your pot and carefully flip upside down. The pot is rather heavy, and we did this together. I was afraid I’d made a huge mess if I had flipped it alone. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top. Serve with salad and/or plain soy yogurt.