Maqluba: A Middle Eastern Upside-down rice dish

Creative cooking with kitchen cupboard ingredients

This one-pan gives a taste of the Middle East, in your own home

There are few people around the world who have not been affected in some way by the COVID-19 global pandemic. It’s having an impact on all aspects of daily life, including the way we eat.

It’s not all bad news though, not by a long shot. Just weeks into the UK’s strict isolation measures, the British population has shown great resourcefulness and creativity, adapting to this strange and unprecedented situation. It’s been inspiring to see communities pulling together while physically staying apart, being inventive and approaching challenges with a can-do attitude.

People are increasingly turning to fresh fruit and veg markets, butchers and independent suppliers, replicating how the British high street used to be. With certain ingredients in short supply, families are getting creative and thinking of alternative ways to use up store cupboard ingredients whilst minimising food waste. There’s plenty of inspiration out there too as social media platforms, such as Instagram Live, Facetime, Skype etc. step up their channels as a way to show regular masterclasses and tutorials from chefs and restauranteurs far and wide directly into people’s kitchens.

A one-pan recipe is a great approach, and the Liquid food team have put together a unique dish, that’s totally versatile and will work with what you have.

Maqluba: A Middle Eastern Upside-down rice dish

Introducing classic middle eastern flavours, this dish uplifts any weekly cooking cycle menu and this recipe is so tasty. With colourful layers of vegetables and rice, it’s visually appealing, will appeal to the kids and is an enjoyable dish that can be brought to the table once cooked in a single pan.

Traditionally made with lamb or chicken, this versatile dish works well using just vegetables, which minimises costs and keeps vegetarians or those with cultural diets in the family catered for. We’ve suggested alternative ingredients, but there is no wrong or right! Swap out with frozen vegetables, including peas, spinach, leeks etc or whatever you have left in the house so nothing goes to waste. (yes, even those, half bags of vegetables, get them added in!)

You will need:

  • One large pan (preferably with a lid)
  • A plate wide enough to turn pan on to
  • 2 large aubergines, stalk removed and sliced into 1cm rounds
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 5 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 2 red or white onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 courgette, diced
  • 2 peppers, any colour, de-seeded and diced.
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Ras el hanout
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 8 tomatoes, half rough chopped and half sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and finely sliced
  • 500g long grain rice or basmati, rinsed
  • 1 litre vegetable stock or chicken or beef stock if not making for vegetarians
  • 50g toasted flaked almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. In a little oil, pan fry the sliced aubergine on both sides until golden brown. Set slices aside on kitchen roll.
  2. In the same pan fry the garlic, top up with more oil if needed and fry together the onions, courgettes and peppers. Allow the onions to become translucent in appearance.
  3. To the onions, add in all the dry spices, cook out for 2 minutes, add tomato purée and stir. A handful at a time, add in the chopped tomatoes, cook together for a further 2-3 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer contents to a bowl.
  4. Back into the same pan, top up with more oil and gently fry the sliced potatoes until tender all the way through and golden brown all over. Arrange and line the slices around the base of the pan and up around the sides of the pan. Repeat this with a layer of the fried sliced aubergines and spoon in the spiced onion, courgette and pepper mix finishing off with a layer of sliced tomatoes.
  5. Pour the rice all over and allow grains to fall in-between any gaps and fill those spaces.
  6. Gently pour over the stock ensuring it covers just above the surface of the rice. Top up with extra water if needed.
  7. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to very low and leave the maqluba to gently steam and cook together for about 1 hour, or until the rice is cooked.
  8. When ready, invert the pan of maqluba onto a large serving plate so the potatoes and aubergines are now on top. Garnish generously with toasted almonds and any fresh herbs such as parsley, extra fresh tomatoes and serve straight away.

Feel free to swap out or add in ingredients depending on what you have left, mushrooms, green beans, cauliflower florets, peas or spinach all work well. Just add these to the onion cooking stage.