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Passport901: Maqluba

As part of Immigrant Heritage Month in June, we partnered up with Choose901 to bring you #Passport901. Throughout the month, we shared recipes from around the world that represent the diverse groups and cultures that have come to call Memphis home. Now, we’re continuing it through the month of July, and first up is a dish from the Middle-East brought to you by our co-worker, Laura Neal.

One of the most popular dishes in the Arab world is Maqluba. It comes from the Arabic word that means to turn upside down, and it is a very literal name. The tradition of the dish supposedly came from a small, poor Palestinian village a long time ago. The people were very hungry and had very little, and the local Iman wanted to help them. He brought a large pot out and asked everyone to bring their leftovers and what ever they had and put it into the pot. They brought many different things, layered them in the pot, then the Iman cooked it all together. Lastly, he flipped the pot over onto a tray, hence the name, and they had a great feast. This dish ties very cohesively into the important tenants of hospitality and charity that is so important in Arab culture. It is most traditionally eaten off of the communal platter with either spoons or with your hands.

It is a simple but time consuming dish to make because of how many steps there are. Put all the ground spices in a bowl. You will use this to make a broth, but reserve a tablespoon. Put the chicken, onion, spices, cloves, and bay leaves in a large pot and cover with water for about 30 minutes. When the chicken is cooked, remove it, pour the broth through a sieve and keep it. While the broth is cooking you fry the vegetables in batches as to not over crowd them. (You can use whatever vegetables you like. This version has cauliflower and carrots, but it also often has potatoes.) The vegetables do not need to be fully cooked, but fried just until they have color on them. You can place them on a paper towel to drain the excess oil from them. Then after the chicken is cooked, you fry the chicken! Next you coat the bottom of the pan in oil and put the chicken and whole garlic cloves in the bottom of the pot, put the fried vegetables on top. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear and drain it. Mix the remaining spices and a teaspoon and a half of salt in the rice. Then put the rice over the vegetables and chicken. Lastly you pour the previously made broth over it all. Make sure there is about a quarter of an inch of broth above the rice, you may need to add more water. Cover it and cook on medium heat it until the rice is done, about 20 minutes. Maqluba means something that is flipped over, so to serve it, you flip the whole pot onto a tray and serve it with the chicken on top. You eat it with yogurt on the rice and a cucumber tomato salad on the side.

And that’s it! Now you have your very own Maqluba to enjoy with family and friends. When you do, don’t forget to share a photo to social media and tag us and Choose901 in it for a chance to win a prize from both of us!

For a printable version of the recipe, download the recipe card below.

Laura is the ERA Coordinator at World Relief Memphis. She previously lived in the Middle East for 3 years. Her favorite way to learn Arabic was taking cooking classes in Arabic! She loves culture and appreciates the different ways people celebrate where they came from and what God has given them. We see so much diversity in creation and culture and that can be appreciated  and experienced through cooking and eating different foods!

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