This Maqluba Recipe is a popular Palestinian and Jordanian spiced rice dish that is mix with fried cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes, and meat. In Arabic, Maqluba (Makloubeh or Maqlooba) means "Upside Down" since we take the pot and flip it upside down directly on the large plate.
As a half Jordanian (from my father's side), this dish is part of our heritage and I love Maqluba which is one of my favorite Jordanian / Palestinian rice dishes. Although it is a national dish of Palestine, this food is also found and eaten in Jordan and even in Syria & Iraq.
I remember back in the old days when I was living in Kuwait, we have a family gathering every Wednesday or Thursday in my Grandparents' house at Lunch Time. My late grandmother made this delicious Chicken Maqluba, and I saw her flipping it upside down into the large serving platter. My father jokingly told me that it is considered a Jordanian/Palestinian version of Paella since it is also served on a large plate.
Fortunately, my grandmother taught this recipe to my mother, and I learned it from her. Because I love this Jordanian chicken dish, I am going to show you a true authentic Chicken Maqluba.
Making a Maqluba Recipe is not easy since it takes effort and time.
Spices: To make a Maqluba spice, I use a ready-made Baharat spice, Allspice, Bay Leaves, and Turmeric that I purchased from a Middle Eastern grocery store. These baharat spices already contain all kinds of spices which is easier and more convenient for me. If you don't have Baharat spice, you can use Garam Masala which is an Indian mixed spice. They taste similar except it is mildly spicy.
Vegetables: I use these 3 important vegetables for my Makloubeh- Potatoes, Eggplants, and Cauliflowers. It is important to fry them first before putting them into the pot since it will give a nice brown texture.
Meat: I am using Chicken as my protein meat. I prefer drumstick and thigh part since they are tender and juicy.
Rice: I am using just the ordinary medium-grain rice. One example you can use is an Egyptian rice in this recipe. The rice is mixed with the spices and then I set it aside in preparation for assembling the maqluba. Do not use any short grain or sticky rice as this will ruin the texture of the maqluba.
Other Ingredients: You need cooking oil when frying the vegetables & chicken, and salt & black pepper for taste.
What do you serve this recipe with?
When eating Maqluba, this food is commonly served with plain yogurt and Arabic salad. The yogurt provides great condiments for this rice dish. While the salad well serves as a healthy vegetarian side dish.
This rice dish is very delicious but it is also a bit oily. So it is important to serve it with something healthier like Arabic Salad. These two side dishes are a must, and you cannot eat Chicken Makloubeh without them.
Step by Step Instruction
I. Boiling & Seasoning the Chicken
- The first thing to do you will have to prepare a large pot where you will put the chicken and pour water for boiling. Once the chicken started to boil, remove the fats using the big soon.
- After that, add the baharat spices / garam masala, allspice, turmeric, salt, and black pepper to the pot, and give it a slow stir.
- The chicken broth will have to taste a bit salty since you will use that to pour into the rice and the vegetables. Let the chicken boil for 30 minutes.
- After the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken from the stock and set it aside.
II. Frying the Vegetables and Chicken
- While the chicken is boiling, chop the cauliflower, potatoes, and eggplant (long shape). Add vegetable oil in a separate pan to prepare to fry them.
- Once the oil is hot, fry first the cauliflower until it shows a light brown texture. After your done with the cauliflower, proceed with potatoes and the eggplants.
- Lastly, fry the chicken in the pan until it has a brown texture. Flip on the opposite side and repeat the process.
- Transfer all of it into the plate. Set aside
III. Assembling the Maqluba
- In this step, use a new pot for cooking the Maqluba. To make a first layer, sprinkle first with rice, followed by half portion of vegetables and then the chicken.
- For a second layer, repeat by putting rice, followed by the remaining vegetables and the chicken.
- Lastly, put all the remaining rice into the pot, and transfer the chicken broth from the old pot into this pot.
- Turn on the gas stove in medium high heat to the let the maqluba boil. When the water is already absorbed, switch it to low heat, and let it cook for additional 15 minutes or until the rice is soft. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 5 minute.
To prepare serving a Maqluba, place a large plate on a table. Bring the pot to the plate and quickly turn into upside down position. Slowly lift it up to have a beautiful layer of Maqluba.
Don't forget that it is traditional that we serve it with Salad & Yogurt and you are done.
- Other vegetables you can use are sliced zucchini, carrots, or tomatoes.
- Instead of medium-grain rice or Egyptian rice, you can use any long-grain rice like basmati rice.
- If you don't have basmati rice, you can use other types of long-grain such as jasmine rice.
- You can use Lamb, Mutton or Beef instead of Chicken.
Tips and Hints
- You can bake the chicken and the vegetables in the oven instead of frying them. This option is healthier since you don't need to use oil.
- If you are using a nonstick pot, place sliced tomatoes first on the bottom of the pot before adding the other vegetables and the rice. This will help prevent sticking on the pot.
- When boiling the chicken or any meat, make sure the soup or the stock must be a bit salty. You will be using that to cook the rice along with the rest of the ingredients. Or else, the rice will be bland.
- Before frying the chicken, make sure to dry the chicken or it is not wet to prevent the oil from splashing at you.
- Because the eggplant absorbs too much oil, it is best to fry it on the last part.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have too much leftover, you can keep the chicken maqluba in the refrigerator for up to 5 days maximum. You cannot put it in the freezer because it will just make the rice watery and mushy.
Traditionally in Jordan and Palestine, it is more popular to use chicken for maqluba recipe. However, you can also use Mutton and Beef instead of chicken. One time, my father's relative made a Lamb Maqluba in his house, and it tastes delicious.
The only problem you will have to boil the Beef or Mutton a bit longer to make sure the meat will be tender and moist. For this reason, I prefer to use chicken since it is easier and it is my favorite meat.
Maqluba is a traditional dish found in Levant countries which includes Jordan, Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. Each of them has its variation and ways of making this recipe.
However, this dish is more common in Jordan among tourists and foreign visitors. If you go to Jordan, most people will talk and have experience more about maqluba than those who visit other Levant countries.
Other Middle Eastern Rice Recipes
If you are looking for similar Arabic and Middle eastern dish that has a combination of rice and meat (chicken, lamb or beef), I have other recipes you may love to try cooking at home:
📋 Recipe Card
Chicken Maqluba Recipe
- 8 pieces Chicken drumstick and thigh
- 2 ½ to 3 cups Medium-grain rice or Egyptian Rice
- 1 large cauliflower head
- 2 long eggplant
- 2 large size potatoes
- 5 cup water for boiling and making a broth
Spices for this Recipe
- 1 teaspoon of allspice
- 2 teaspoon of baharat spice or garam masala
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- 4 pieces Bay leaves.
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- ½ tablespoon of black pepper
Boiling the Chicken and Making a Broth
- Add the chicken and water into the pot. Turn on the heat and wait till it started to boil.
- When it is already boiling, remove excess fats or dirt from the boiling chicken using the large spoon.
- Add all the spices and give it a slow stir. Let the chicken simmer for 30 minutes.
- Once the chicken is cooked, separate the chicken from the broth and transfer into the plate. Set aside.
Frying the Vegetables and the Chicken
- Chop the potatoes, eggplants, and cauliflower to prepare to fry them.
- Pour vegetable oil in the pan. When it is hot, add the potatoes and fry till it turns light brown.
- Fry the rest of the cauliflowers and the eggplant. Transfer to the plate with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. (The eggplant must be the last)
- Once you are done frying the vegetables, fry the chicken using the same pan. Pour more cooking oil if needed.
- Transfer all into the same plate. Set aside. Use tissue paper or paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
Assembling the Maqluba
- After all the chicken and the vegetables are fried, start transferring all of them into a new pot.
- To make the first layer, add first the rice (20%), followed by half of the fried vegetables and the chicken. For a second layer, repeat again by putting the rice (20%), followed by the remaining vegetables and the chicken. Lastly, put all the remaining rice (60%) into the pot, and transfer the chicken broth from the old pot into this pot.
- Turn on in high heat and let the pot boil. When the water is fully absorbed, reduce to low heat. Cook for additional 15 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked.
- Prepare a large round plate. Bring the pot to the plate and quickly flip into an upside-down position.
- Slowly raise the pot up to have a nice beautiful cake shaped like Maqluba. Garnish it with pine nuts (optional), and serve with any yogurt and salad.
- Traditionally, makloubeh or maqluba is garnished with pine nuts, but I am not doing that in my recipe since I am not a fan of having nuts in my rice.
- If you prefer a healthier version, you can grill or bake the vegetables and the chicken instead of frying them.
- Before frying the chicken, make sure it is not watery or wet to prevent the oil from splashing.
- You can use other long-grain rice such as Basmati or Jasmine rice. If using basmati, have it soaked for 30 minutes after washing the rice.
We are always looking for new ways to use chicken and this looks amazing. Such great flavours.
Thanks Dannii. This is a very popular chicken dish in the Palestine, Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries.
Love all of the spices in this recipe! It makes it taste so rich and flavorful!
Thank you Anjali. This dish is not spicy but it is very tasty. I am sure you will love it
I don't recall making this dish at home, so that makes me really excited! Adding the recipe to my menu 🙂
You are going to love this jordanian chicken recipe. Let me know if you already made it.
I cannot wait to try this! The spices and flavors sound just incredible.
Oh, I need to make this for my dad! He used to live in the Middle East and this looks delicious!
Thanks Genevieve. I am sure your dad will love to try this dish.
This is my husband’s favorite dish from his home (Palestine)! I can’t wait to make this for him since I know he’s extremely home sick!
Hi Heidi. Thank you for your comment. It is also one of my favorite dishes from Kuwait since I was born there. When you migrate or live in other countries, you will surely miss the food. I am sure your husband will be please when you make this dish. Let me know if you make one 🙂
I had never had maqluba but always friends are talking about this dish so I decide to try. I found it to be pretty easy and it came out wonderfully... ty for this recipe... now I must try mansuf
Hi Sonya. Thank you for sharing your experience. Indeed it is a very delicious chicken rice dish. Mansaf is actually another jordanian meat dish, which is made from yogurt milk. I will definitely let you know if I will post a mansaf recipe here. Thanks again and take care.
This is an excellent recipe! I love makloubeh and always get it when I can, but I've never had homemade before until last night! Thank you for this authentic recipe. It was a bit laborious because of all the frying. Next time, I will try roasting all the veggies for a healthier option and to save time and I need to get my hands on some baharat. I used garam masala bc that's what I had on hand. My family was impressed by the authentic flavors and yummy textures. I'm sure frying everything added to the flavors too. I just needed a teeny bit more salt for my taste though. Still a 5-star imo. Thank you!
Hi Ian. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am pleased that you had a time to make maqluba recipe. And I am glad your family love it. You can actually use Garam Masala and it works fine. As a matter of fact, I sometime use Garam masala in this recipe if I ran out of other spices. You can roast or baked the vegetables in the oven instead of frying in the oil if you prefer healthier approach. It works perfectly for this dish. Thanks again and take care
This recipe is easy to follow and we really enjoyed the meal! I used an air fryer and a tablespoon of oil to brown the chicken. I also skimmed the oil from the chicken broth before adding it to the rice mixture. Love this comfort food!
Does the chicken have skin on or off?
I included the skin of the chicken. But, you can remove them if you prefer skinless chicken. It wouldn't make any difference.
Could boneless skinless chicken breast pieces be used?
Hi Mindy. Yes, you can use boneless and skinless chicken breast. It wouldn't make any difference since you the flavor from the stock
Do you cover with a lid once the water is fully absorbed?
Saif Al Deen Odeh
Yes, but you need to adjust the fire in low heat because the bottom rice still needs to be cook.
my mom used to always make this food for us at home and I remember the work it took. since I had eggplants in the frigde that were almost going bad I decided to give it a try. took time since I baked everything but it is delicious! would definitely make again. thank you saif!
Thank you for sharing this recipe. In the whole recipe there is no information how process the rice. Because in your pictures where you are building up the maqluba with rice, veggies and chicken, it looks like your rice is already wet. Is this true or do you have any other instructions?
* I see in many recipes that they rinse the rice in water for 30 minutes.
Saif Al Deen Odeh
Hi John. Thanks for your comment. If it is basmati rice, you will have to soak it for 30 minutes. But I am using medium grain rice or Egyptian rice since this is my variation of this recipe. Soaking is optional for this type of rice. I have edited the recipe ingredients and the post. Apologies for the confusion.
Regardless of the type of rice, you still need to wash and clean it 3 times to remove the excess starch. After that, you can mix it with the spices and set it aside in preparation for assembling the maqluba. Hope this helps.