Oh my it's been a long time since I posted! Of course, I have been doing some cooking, but not very much as I have been traveling. I am now in Europe and I am posting something I made just before I left. It is a deconstructed version of a dish I had outside of Jerusalem on the way back from the Dead Sea. It is an Arab dish called Maqlubah, sometimes spelled Maklubah, which apparently means "upside down." This dish gets it's name because it is turned over and served like an upside down cake when it is done. It is a homey dish full of Chicken or Lamb, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Potatoes or Cauliflower, onion and rice that is full of flavor. When served with a salad, makes a full meal. I fell in love with this dish when I had it and was so happy to have figured out how to make it. This recipe is a compilation of many versions I found online and luckily, it worked the first time. I didn't add cauliflower, which is quite traditional as I didn't have any and will do that next time. It does make a bit of a crust on the bottom, which becomes the top, but I forgot to take a picture of it until we had already eaten all those pieces. It's really delicious!
1 pound deboned Chicken Thighs, cut into 1 inch chunks (can also use lamb)
5 - 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil - separated
2 teaspoons Turmeric
1 teaspoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Salt
5 Roma Tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices and then halved
2 medium Onions, cut into 1/4 inch slices and quartered
1 medium Eggplant, cut into thick slices and then into cubes
2 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin
2 1/2 cups Basmati Rice, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
4 1/2 - 5 cups Warm Chicken Broth
Optional: 1 1/2 cups Cauliflower Florets and/or 2 medium Potatoes, peeled and sliced and quartered
Heat 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in a frying pan. Add the Onions and cook until they soften. Add in Garlic, Turmeric, Allspice and Black Pepper and stir to coat. Remove and reserve on a plate. Heat 2 additional Tablespoons of Olive Oil and cook Eggplant until lightly browned. Remove and reserve on a plate. Then cook Cauliflower or Potato (if using) in 1 Tablespoon of additional oil until lightly browned. Then begin layering.
Oil the bottom of a braising pot (like Staub or LeCreuset) with the last 1 Tablespoon of Oil. Place tomatoes across the bottom and then put the Eggplant on top. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of Salt. Next comes the Cauliflower or Potato and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of Salt. Then add the Chicken. Sprinkle with another 1/2 teaspoon of the Salt. Drain Rice and mix with the Onion Mixture and put on top of the Chicken. Sprinkle with last 1/2 teaspoon Salt and push down. Carefully pour 4 1/2 cups of Chicken Broth over the Rice and then push down the rice with your hands. The rice should come up to cover the rice. If it does not, add the additional chicken broth.
Put the pot on the stove on medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover and cook for 30 minutes. Check and see if rice is done. If it is not, cook for up to an additional 30 minutes. And, if the rice is too dry, add some additional broth up to 1/4 cup. Remove from heat when rice is cooked and let sit for 10 minutes. Place a plate on top and turn over carefully and quickly to make a plate. If it doesn't hold, you can use a wooden spoon to reshape it.
Note: if using Potato, as I did, it will probably need all the chicken broth and maybe even a little more.
Five Element Analysis
Rice belongs to the Metal Element and the Spices in this dish along with the Garlic and Onion add even more Metal - so does the Cauliflower if you use it. The Eggplant brings in the Water Element. The Chicken, Olive Oil and Chicken Broth contribute the Wood Element and the Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element. The Potato adds in the Earth Element making this a balanced Five Element dish! If you don't use the potato, find another Earth food to serve with it to create that balance.