Why It Works
- Boiling the hen beforehand provides you flavorful broth, tender hen, and permits the hen to crisp and the rice to cook dinner on the similar time as soon as layered.
- Mixing the spices in with the rice earlier than layering it ensures even distribution all through the dish.
- An inverted plate helps the dish retain its distinctive layers throughout cooking.
Even on the danger of sounding like the daddy from My Large Fats Greek Wedding ceremony, I’ll begin by explaining the etymology of the phrase maqlubeh or maqlubah (each spellings are correct and easily point out completely different Arab accents). Its root is the Arabic verb which means “to flip” and the phrase itself simply means “flipped over.” It’s an apt description on condition that as a way to serve this dish, you high the pot during which it was cooked with a big serving platter, then flip it and raise to disclose a cake-shaped dish of rice, greens, and meats.
Widespread throughout Palestine and widely known because the nationwide dish, there are as many variations of “maqlubeh” as there are Palestinian households. Historically, it’s made by boiling both lamb or hen, frying a number of greens (traditionally simply eggplants), then layering the meat, rice, and greens in a stew pot and cooking it with some inventory.
Over time, it has developed to incorporate numerous variations. There are seasonal ones, reminiscent of maqlubeh made with cauliflower within the winter or fava beans within the spring, and private variations that may replicate, for instance, a household’s choice for placing cauliflower, eggplant, and carrots collectively in the identical pot. Nonetheless others would possibly add chickpeas, or garlic and onions, and even tomatoes to line the pot. However eggplant stays the gold commonplace, and, if the next previous story is to be believed, was the vegetable used when maqlubeh first acquired its descriptive title.
In the direction of the tip of the twelfth century, Salah ad-Din, the sultan of Egypt and Syria, led a navy marketing campaign towards the Crusaders within the Levant during which he defeated a large military within the Battle of Hattin and captured again town of Jerusalem. Legend has it that the native Jerusalem inhabitants, elated with this victory, served Salah ad-Din and his males a beneficiant feast. One of many essential dishes was “bathinjaniyeh” (bathinjan means eggplant in Arabic), a dish of rice and eggplants ceremoniously flipped over on a serving platter in entrance of friends as an indication of hospitality and respect. Delighted with its taste, Salah ad-Din is claimed to have later requested, “What’s the title of this flipped over (maqlubeh) dish?” From that time onwards, the title of bathinjaniyeh grew to become maqlubeh, and stays it at this time.
How a lot of this historical past is true and the way a lot is embellished is tough to establish, however eggplant dishes had by that point gained favor and change into among the hottest, with recipes broadly out there in medieval Arabic cookbooks. Rice, nevertheless, was a lot much less in style within the Levant throughout that period as a result of it didn’t develop natively (it required a considerable quantity of water, tough in a drier local weather). Even in later centuries, rice continued to be perceived as a meals reserved for the rich and solely lately has it change into a staple. So it’s completely doable that the grain of alternative for maqlubeh was traditionally the extra available wheat in both bulgur or freekeh type.
Right this moment, nevertheless, maqlubeh is a rice dish, and one of the in style at that, served each on particular events and on an virtually weekly foundation for a lot of Palestinian households. It’s a whole meal in a single pot that may feed a crowd, so it’s typically the right alternative for weekend gatherings when massive prolonged households are likely to get collectively.
Although there are numerous variations, there are a couple of components widespread throughout all of them which guarantee the very best taste and texture.
First is the broth. The flavour of the dish will largely come right down to the flavour of the broth used, so do-it-yourself is the best way to go in an effort to management the numerous layers of flavors and seasonings.
Then comes the rice. The feel is supposed to be tender, however not mushy or sticky. As soon as the dish is flipped out, a mild shake of the serving platter backwards and forwards ought to see the grains cascade right down to fill the platter in a mound of tender particular person grains which are simple to inform aside. This partly comes right down to the number of rice used. You need a long-grain rice that’s prized for its capability to provide rice with a fluffy texture, so extra glutinous and sticky varieties like medium-grain rice are out. Jasmine is the preferred alternative, with Calrose an in depth second. Whereas basmati is a superbly appropriate alternative that many go for due to its lengthy particular person grains, the feel is a bit on the dry facet and the flavour feels much less cohesive.
Rinsing and soaking the rice is equally important to keep away from sticky or mushy rice. Rinsing the rice till the water runs clear removes floor starches that may gum up the outcomes, whereas soaking it hydrates the starch extra evenly, setting it up for extra uniform, tender outcomes as soon as cooked.
The selection of meat is discretionary, though each hen and lamb are widespread. Bone-in items are conventional, as a result of they’re used to first make the broth, and yield essentially the most taste. But when you have already got a superb do-it-yourself broth available, it’s completely doable to make use of boneless cuts of meat. Whether it is hen breast, merely brown it in olive oil with spices till virtually cooked by way of earlier than layering the dish; you do not wish to simmer the lean, chicken too lengthy, or it will find yourself dry and chalky within the completed dish. Whether it is stewing cuts of lamb (or beef), then cook dinner them within the broth till tender earlier than continuing with the dish; the longer cooking on these stewing cuts permits for powerful, collagenous connective tissue to interrupt down into supple gelatin, guaranteeing tender outcomes.
It’s within the alternative of greens the place essentially the most alternative for variation exists, although as talked about, eggplant is the most common. Normally, the greens have to be pre-cooked earlier than being layered into the maqlubeh, however the methodology of cooking will depend upon the vegetable. Cauliflower and eggplant are often deep- or shallow-fried first, permitting for thorough browning and tenderizing, and a softer, silkier texture. It is not unusual at this time, nevertheless, to broil these greens as a way to velocity preparation and scale back the quantity of oil wanted; high-heat roasting of a vegetable like cauliflower may additionally work. Different widespread vegetable decisions like favas, carrots, or a combination, are often sautéed in olive oil till simply tender.
The ultimate piece of the puzzle is the meeting. The meat goes into the pot first, adopted by a portion of soaked and drained rice that is been seasoned with spices. The greens are then layered in and topped with the remaining rice. If it’s a considerably massive meal, one can do extra layers of rice and greens. A heatproof plate, barely smaller than the pot’s circumference, is often inverted on high to weigh all of it down and make sure the layers maintain their form throughout cooking, after which the broth is poured in. As soon as the rice is cooked, it’s put aside to steam for 15 to twenty minutes with a tea towel or paper towels inserted beneath the lid, which absorbs moisture that may in any other case condense on the underside of the lid and drip again down onto the rice, turning it damp and mushy in spots.
The actual deal with is the act of flipping it over. There’s all the time this palpable rigidity within the air, “Will it come out in a single piece? What’s going to it seem like?” Nonstick pots undoubtedly assist scale back the chance of sticking, however one other trick if you do not have a nonstick pot is to line the underside of the pot with a spherical sheet of parchment paper. Whereas this won’t provide you with a properly scorching, brown backside, it would guarantee simple launch.
When it comes time to serve, fried slivered almonds add a welcome crunch to the dish, whereas yogurt and chopped Palestinian salad make the right accompaniments. However even by itself with a spoon, this dish is an entire meal. Whereas I’ll all the time consider maqlubeh as a celebratory or household meal that may carry its personal weight, it’s additionally the right facet dish for roasted or grilled meats.