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In Galilee, chicken, rice and vegetables are transformed into a one-pot feast
Milk Street Bowtie Palestinian Upside-Down Chicken and Rice (Maqlubeh)

Palestinian Upside-Down Chicken and Rice (Maqlubeh)

2 hours 30 minutes active, plus resting

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Palestinian Upside-Down Chicken and Rice (Maqlubeh)

Free

Maqlubeh translates from the Arabic as “upside down,” which describes how this traditional multilayered rice dish is served. Reem Kassis, author of “The Palestinian Table,” showed us how to make the dish on a trip to Galilee. Our streamlined recipe still requires a small investment in ingredients and prep, but the work mostly is front-loaded and produces a one-pot dish impressive enough for a special occasion. For proper cooking, it’s important to use a pot 9½ to 11 inches in diameter and 4 to 6 inches deep. After searing and removing the chicken, we line the bottom of the pot with a parchment round to guarantee that the rice, which forms a crisp, browned bottom layer, does not stick when the pot is inverted for serving. If you prefer, you can serve directly from the pot, but we still recommend lining the bottom of the pot with parchment. The classic accompaniment for maqlubeh is a tomato, cucumber and yogurt salad.

8

Servings

Tip

Don’t forget to soak and rinse the rice. This helps the grains cook up light and separate.

2 hours

30 minutes active, plus resting

2 cups basmati rice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
⅓ cup slivered almonds
8 ounces cauliflower florets (1-inch pieces)
8 medium garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, melted
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ medium eggplant (about 8 ounces), sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
Ingredients
  • 2

    cups basmati rice

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed

  • 4

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • cup slivered almonds

  • 8

    ounces cauliflower florets (1-inch pieces)

  • 8

    medium garlic cloves, chopped

  • 4

    tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, melted

  • 4

    teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1

    tablespoon ground allspice

  • 2

    teaspoons ground turmeric

  • 1

    teaspoon grated nutmeg

  • ½

    medium eggplant (about 8 ounces), sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds

  • 1

    quart low-sodium chicken broth

Directions
  1. 01
    In a large bowl, combine the rice and 1 tablespoon salt. Add water to cover by 1 inch, then set aside. Have ready a lidded pot that measures 9½ to 11 inches in diameter and 4 to 6 inches deep. Cut 2 rounds of kitchen parchment the size of the pot.
  2. 02
    Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Set the pot over medium and heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin down and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Remove the pot from heat. Place 1 parchment round on the bottom, then turn to coat it with fat.
  3. 03
    Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the parchment-lined pot, then sprinkle evenly with the almonds. Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer, then rinse under cool running water and drain again. Scatter 1 cup of the rice in a thin, even layer over the almonds. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining rice with the cauliflower, garlic, butter, cumin, allspice, turmeric, nutmeg and ¾ teaspoon salt and 1¾ teaspoons pepper. Reserve ½ cup of this mixture, then distribute the remainder in an even layer in the pot.
  4. 04
    Place the chicken in the pot, slightly nestling the pieces into the rice-cauliflower layer; discard any accumulated juices. Shingle the eggplant slices over the chicken in an even layer. Sprinkle with the reserved ½ cup rice.
  5. 05
    Pour the broth into the pot (it will not fully cover the eggplant), then bring to a boil over medium-high. Set the second parchment round over the food, the cover the pot with the lid. Cook for 5 minutes, reduce to low and cook, undisturbed, for 35 minutes.
  6. 06
    Remove the pot from the heat, uncover and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment, then invert a serving platter onto the pot. Holding the platter against the pot, carefully invert the two together; leave the pot overturned on the platter and let rest for about 10 minutes. Slowly lift off the pot and, if needed, remove and discard the parchment.
    See Demo
    palestinian-chicken-rice-maqlubeh-6
Tip: Don’t forget to soak and rinse the rice. This helps the grains cook up light and separate.
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Reviews
Janelle O.
August 7, 2022
Easy, delicious, and impressive
This is a great dish to make when entertaining because you can spend time with your guests instead of hovering over the kitchen stove. Our friends were super impressed by the taste and presentation. Sadly, there were no leftovers.
Amy M.

I made this recipe for the first time last night. The flavors are AMAZING! The rice cooked up nice and fluffy but I didn't achieve the expected crispy crust at the bottom of the pan. Rereading the recipe, I failed to buy the bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs....could this have been the reason that I didn't get the crusty rice bottom? Not enough fat? Or maybe I needed more heat when I was reducing to low for 35 minutes. Also considering, the pot...used a stainless steel double bottom dutch oven, but next time will try cast iron dutch oven. Your additional comments would be welcomed! Fantastic recipe.

John S.

Thank you for your comment! Your comment is currently under moderation and will appear shortly.

Dave T.

How long should I soak the rice?

Chris W.

Hi, it appears it's the timing from doing it at the beginning until it's ready to drain, so I would just follow what they say.

Kevin F.

30 min. That's what is recommended in the Jerusalem cookbook for a basmati rice dish and it works well.

Chris W.

8 servicing is too much for me & wifey, has anyone tried to split it in 1/2 for 4 servings & it work out?

Travis T.

I have not, but there's no logical reason it would not for this particular recipe. I would, however, definitely use a narrower baking vessel. A 6-7" dutch oven or all-metal saucepan would be sufficient. (Many people may not own a pot that small in diameter, but saucepans that size are common will serve the same purpose if they don't have a plastic handle.)

Arlene B.

I soaked it as long as it took to prep the rest of the ingredients and the rice was nice and fluffy.

Ruth E.

I just cooked on low for 35 minutes but the rice still looks uncooked. I wonder if my low setting is too low... Any others experience this?

Janelle C.

Hi,

Our Recipe Developer Julia Rackow made the following not. If the rice is undercooked but the liquid has completely absorbed, add chicken broth 1/4 cup at a time until the rice is tender.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Kathryn A.

With an electric stove, I have to constantly fight to get a good low simmer. You could try a higher low, or after it comes to a boil, bake it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Michael M.

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Wadi M.

Thank you for including this Palestinian staple, this is a wonderful version.

Michele R.

Delicious flavors. Since chicken is a seldom used protein at our house - we just don't like it much and that puts us in a distinct minority since Americans consume about 97# each per year - we left it out (added a bit more cauliflower for volume - and this was a great rice main dish.

Constance W.

DELICIOUS AND FABULOUS AROMA, you would not regret making this dish!
Leftovers are fabulous even for breakfast, which my husband and I could not wait to enjoy the next morning. It could be good to make ahead and reheat the next day for a casual dinner with friends because the flavors get even better like a tasty stew.
NOW MY NOTES on this recipe for the next time I make it. I consider myself a good cook and enjoy experimenting and tweaking daily. This recipe took me 9o minutes to prepare and clean up the first time, not the 30 minutes of active time suggested. My almonds were not toasty on the bottom; I will toast them and add them at the end for a better presentation and crunch or even pistachios. The rice had a fabulous flavor, but I wanted it to be crispy like a paella. Next time I make this, I will turn the heat up at the end and see if I can get a crust and omit the parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. If you have a heavy non-stick pan or an Enameled Cast-Iron pan, you should not have a problem with the rice sticking because of the 15 minutes resting at the end with the heat off and the resting 10 minutes with the pan flipped over on a platter. My husband thought there was not enough chicken; I could have squeezed a few more pieces in because I removed the bone for future stock and thought it would be easier to serve and eat, which it was, but more chicken is needed.
This recipe would be a delicious vegetarian option sans the chicken and broth; just use a good vegetable broth and add meaty portabella mushrooms and or more eggplant. You could coat the chicken or shrimp with the spices and let it rest for a while and cook separately and serve.
I also ground and toasted all of my spices and added white peppercorns, which I believe it took the dish to another level. I did not have allspice, so I added more nutmeg and cinnamon and added Milk St. sumac for a lemon note. I squeezed lime to serve with it to brighten the dish in addition to the tomato, cucumber, and yogurt salad that I added radish and red onion for a little heat and crunch.
Just changing all the spices would make this dish into something different every time it was made. I think this will become a go-to recipe when I want one to eat for several days, freeze portions, or a party because it does not need to be super hot.
A big thanks to Milk St. I have all their books, order from their fabulous pantry, and listen to their podcasts for insightful inspiration.

Jennifer B.

agree with other reviewers, this is a winner. a member of my family called it the best dish I ever made (and I never make the same thing twice).

Timothy M.

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George F S.

I cannot eat cruciferous vegetables. What can I use to substitute for the cauliflower?
Jane S

Barbara W.

Fennel is my go to in many recipes when I can't do Cruciferous veggies. You can do a combination of fennel and celery or celeriac.

Gary B.

I followed the recipe closely, except for a bit more garlic, and the dish was exceptional. Very aromatic and extremely flavorful. However, flipping a loaded dutch oven while holding a serving platter is a challenge. (We really didn't see Christopher flip the pan did we?) Next time I'll use a less desirable but lighter weight pan and hope for the same great results. Also, this makes a really large amount of cooked rice so plan on having as a side later.)

stephanie e.

I made this tonight and thought the flavor was absolutely delicious. My rice however, was softer and not separate grains as I had hoped. I used American Basmati- Kasmati- so I don't know if that had something to do with it. I followed directions exactly. The recipe says it serves 8 but with 1 1/2 lbs bone in chicken thigh that was about 3 thighs so not enough for that many people- fortunately I was only serving 3 this time. Any suggestions for adding more protein and vegetables or using boneless chicken thighs to fit more in? There was plenty of tasty rice but we would have loved more of the veg and chicken. Thanks!

Lynn C.

Hi Stephanie -

I'm not sure what happened with the rice - I believe the American Kasmati would have performed the same. It's possible the heat on your stovetop was a little high and the rice got slightly overcooked. I know on my stovetop at home the "low" flame is a little higher than what it probably should be.

In Reem Kassis's original recipe, which she shared with Christopher Kimball in Galilee, she only used a small amount of chicken as well and we based our recipe on hers. I think in most other parts of the world they use a much smaller amount of protein than we are accustomed to in the U.S. I think you could try adding more chicken to the pot but, since the rice turned out a little softer than you liked, I worry it might throw off the liquid - the chicken will release some juice - and really affect the rice. Since we haven't tested it I can't make any guarantees it will work, but might be worth a try. Good luck!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Tatiana R.

I'm currently making this with basmati, but I also want to try making this with sushi rice. It would be less authentic, but I love using sushi rice in everything because it's sticky and yet retains its shape and works well with broths.

Caren S.

Could you substitute broccoli for cauliflower?

Lynn C.

Hi Caren -

Cauliflower florets and stalks are a little more dense than broccoli so the broccoli may cook a little faster. We haven't tested this, but it should still work.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Richard N.

Two tablespoons of salt in the rice? Is this a typo?

Lynn C.

Hi Richard -

The rice soaks in the salted water and is then drained and rinsed so much of the salt is washed away.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Catherine M.

Where do you find a pot of the dimensions called for in this recipe? I don’t have anything that is 4 inches deep. I have skillets and saute pans, some of which go to 2 inches. Please help clarify the instructions.

Lynn C.

Hi Catherine -

A Dutch oven, if you have one, is the perfect pot for this recipe. Stainless steel will be a little lighter and easier to flip, but if you only have enameled cast iron you can definitely still do it, you just may need a helper!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Victor P.

A retired surgeon, I took up cooking for fun and to kill time. I never killed patients, but my cooking could easily have. But my maqlubeh, wow! I was wowed myself by the ease and simplicity of the recipe, and most of all, the finished product. I stuck to the recipe except for subbing ghee for butter. Kudos to Chris and the gang.

Tatiana R.

I have a question: why is it necessary to discard the chicken juices if we then add 32oz of chicken stock on top of the rice?
I'm currently making this a second time. The first time we made a mistake because we had a lot of already-cooked rice and we used that. As you can imagine, the rice turned out very mushy, but there was still a crust, and the dish was still very tasty, especially the next day and with some tomato-cucumber-yogurt salad, as you mention, over shredded lettuce.
Now, I just want to see how it comes out with the rice properly prepared. So far, I'm finding it a lot more difficult to layer the uncooked rice than the cooked one. In 30 minutes, I'll find out how it pans out!

Lynn C.

Hi Tatiana -

Good question - I'm actually not sure why that step is necessary, but I doubt it would make a huge difference if you wanted to add them!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Victor P.

A question for the chefs: have a daughter with meat protein allergy and hence any meat is out of the question. Fish and shell fish are fine. We have biriyani in India which is the closest to maqlubeh and, biriyani is often made with fish and shrimps. Could you please advise on how maqlubeh could be adapted with the use of fish and shrimp? Thanks

Lynn C.

Hi Victor -

I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's allergy. Unfortunately, we haven't tested this recipe with fish or shrimp so we can't offer specifics on how to modify it. I will say it's likely that any fish or shrimp would overcook in the amount of time it takes to cook the rice.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Adam R.

My wife and I love this recipe! The presentation is very attractive and tastes so, so good. We've made it a few times now with some tweaks (more eggplant, more chicken) but otherwise we followed the recipe faithfully. Very good leftovers as well. Serving with a tomato cucumber salad is key!

Jannine T.

Okay so I used brocolli instead of cauliflower and zucchini slices instead of eggplant. Now the vegetables and rice were awesome. I used bone in skin on chicken. The chicken came out tough. Now they were larger breasts and I used 3 of them. I used enamel cast iron. The crust of the dish came out beautiful and it stood the flipping test and then it broke open so lovely. What did I do wrong with the chicken? Thanks

P K.

Thought there’s enough rice to serve 8, but only enough chicken to serve 3.

This is similar to Chinese fried rice, the meat is sparse and the rice is the main event.

Next time, would use a whole head of cauliflower, cut up, and a whole eggplant, sliced into half moons.

flavia Z.

I am trying to use up my pandemic pantry before everything expires and I have no Basmati. What other rice types would you recommend? Thanks!

Lynn C.

Hi Flavia -

We have not tested it, but long-grain white rice uses the same ratios of water to rice and has a similar cooking time so should also work. Keep in mind, however, that basmati rice has much more flavor than plain white rice so you will be missing out on some of the complexity of the dish.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Howard C.

I made this last night. It was a disaster: rice was mostly uncooked (I used basmati brown -- our preference and the recipe didn't specify and cooked it longer, about 50 min); hardly any of the broth was absorbed and I had to decant before inverting; even after that, had a minor flood when I removed the pot; eggplant still rawish (and I love eggplant). Chicken was good [LOL]As I'm an accomplished home cook, I'd appreciate any insight...

Lynn C.

Hi Howard -

This recipe was designed to work with white basmati rice, not brown, and we haven't done the due diligence of testing and modifying it for brown rice. Brown basmati rice requires more water and more time to cook as white basmati rice. In addition, the tough outer germ and bran of brown rice can make cooking it a challenge. For even cooking, we prefer to boil it in abundant water as you would pasta to ensure the grains are surrounded by water throughout cooking.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Kristine M.

DO NOT SUBSTITUTE BROWN BASMATI - IT DOES NOT WORK! (But will still taste great!)


Down arrow

Palestinian Upside-Down Chicken and Rice (Maqlubeh)

Get Ready to Cook

8

Servings

2 hours

30 minutes active, plus resting

Tip

Don’t forget to soak and rinse the rice. This helps the grains cook up light and separate.

Ingredients
  • 2

    cups basmati rice

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed

  • 4

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • cup slivered almonds

  • 8

    ounces cauliflower florets (1-inch pieces)

  • 8

    medium garlic cloves, chopped

  • 4

    tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, melted

  • 4

    teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1

    tablespoon ground allspice

  • 2

    teaspoons ground turmeric

  • 1

    teaspoon grated nutmeg

  • ½

    medium eggplant (about 8 ounces), sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds

  • 1

    quart low-sodium chicken broth

Step 1 of 6

Soak Rice

2
cups basmati rice
2
tablespoons kosher salt

In a large bowl, combine the rice and 1 tablespoon salt. Add water to cover by 1 inch, then set aside.


Have ready a lidded pot that measures 9½ to 11 inches in diameter and 4 to 6 inches deep. Cut 2 rounds of kitchen parchment the size of the pot.

Step 2 of 6

Brown Chicken

pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Set the pot over medium and heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin down and cook until browned, about 10 minutes.


Transfer to a plate and set aside. Remove the pot from heat. Place 1 parchment round on the bottom, then turn to coat it with fat.

Step 3 of 6

Combine Ingredients

3
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
cup slivered almonds
8
ounces cauliflower florets (1-inch pieces)
8
medium garlic cloves, chopped
4
tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, melted
1
tablespoon ground allspice
2
teaspoons ground turmeric
1
teaspoon grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the parchment-lined pot, then sprinkle evenly with the almonds. Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer, then rinse under cool running water and drain again.


Scatter 1 cup of the rice in a thin, even layer over the almonds. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining rice with the cauliflower, garlic, butter, cumin, allspice, turmeric, nutmeg and ¾ teaspoon salt and 1¾ teaspoons pepper.


Reserve ½ cup of this mixture, then distribute the remainder in an even layer in the pot.

Step 4 of 6

Add Eggplant

½
medium eggplant (about 8 ounces), sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds

Place the chicken in the pot, slightly nestling the pieces into the rice-cauliflower layer; discard any accumulated juices.


Shingle the eggplant slices over the chicken in an even layer. Sprinkle with the reserved ½ cup rice.

Step 5 of 6

Add Broth

1
quart low-sodium chicken broth

Pour the broth into the pot (it will not fully cover the eggplant), then bring to a boil over medium-high.


Set the second parchment round over the food, the cover the pot with the lid. Cook for 5 minutes, reduce to low and cook, undisturbed, for 35 minutes.

Step 6 of 6

Finish and Serve

Remove the pot from the heat, uncover and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment, then invert a serving platter onto the pot.


Holding the platter against the pot, carefully invert the two together; leave the pot overturned on the platter and let rest for about 10 minutes.


Slowly lift off the pot and, if needed, remove and discard the parchment.

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