There’s something so comforting about a warm and hearty one-pot meal, and this Eggplant and Cauliflower Maqluba with Lamb is no exception. Maqluba is a traditional Middle Eastern dish that translates to “upside down,” the dish is traditionally flipped upside down before serving, revealing layers of tender lamb, fragrant rice, and vegetables.
This particular version features tender lamb that has been slow-cooked in aromatic spices, layered with tender eggplant and cauliflower, and fragrant rice cooked in the flavourful lamb broth. The dish is then carefully inverted and served with toasted almonds.
Making this dish requires effort and time, but the result is well worth it. The key is to take your time and carefully follow the steps to ensure each layer is perfectly cooked and flavoured. The result is a beautifully presented dish that will impress your family and friends.
Serve this Eggplant and Cauliflower Maqluba with Lamb for a special occasion, iftar or a cosy family dinner, and enjoy the rich and complex flavours of this traditional Middle Eastern dish.
And don’t worry if you have leftovers, as this dish only gets better with time! Store the pieces in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days and reheat them before serving them for a delicious and convenient meal.
Basic Ingredients for Eggplant and Cauliflower Maqluba
Lamb Cubes: Lamb provides a rich and savoury flavour to the dish. You can use beef or chicken as an alternative.
Onion: Onion adds a sweet and savoury flavour to the lamb. You can use shallots or leeks as an alternative.
Bay Leaf: Bay leaf adds a subtle and fragrant flavour to the lamb. You can use thyme or rosemary as an alternative.
Cinnamon Stick and Cinnamon Powder: Cinnamon adds a sweet and spicy flavour to the lamb. You can use nutmeg or allspice as an alternative.
Cardamom Pods: Cardamom adds a floral and aromatic flavour to the lamb. You can use cloves or star anise as an alternative.
Turmeric, 7-spice Powder, White Pepper Powder, Black Pepper Powder and Salt: These spices add flavour and heat to the lamb.
Fresh Coriander: Fresh coriander adds a new and citrusy flavour. You can use parsley or mint as an alternative.
Calrose Rice: Calrose rice is a short-grain rice perfect for this dish. You can use basmati rice as an alternative.
Salt: Salt is used to season the vegetables.
Frying Oil: Frying oil is used for frying the vegetables before layering them in the dish
Basmati Rice: Use basmati rice instead of Calrose rice for a different texture and flavour.
Toasted Almonds: Toasted almonds add a crunchy and nutty flavour.
Parsley: Parsley adds a fresh and herbaceous flavour to the dish.
- Use chicken instead of lamb for a different taste.
- Basmati rice: Use basmati rice instead of Calrose rice for a different texture and flavour.
- Nuts: You can prepare a mixture of mixed nuts and dried fruit and use it as a garnish over the dish. Cashews, Pinenuts, pistachio, chopped apricot, chopped dates and raisins are great options – use separately or combine for a unique combination.
Preparation Tips for Eggplant and Cauliflower Maqluba
- When cooking the lamb, be sure to brown it nicely to create a rich and savoury flavour.
- Be sure to rinse the rice well before cooking to remove excess starch and soak for 30 minutes only.
- Fry the vegetables until golden brown to create a crispy and tender texture. Alternatively, for a healthier option, roast in the oven or air fry.
Serving Tips for Eggplant and Cauliflower Maqluba
- Serve the dish hot and sprinkle with toasted almonds and chopped parsley.
- You can serve the plate with a side of yogurt or tahini sauce for added creaminess and flavour.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
- To reheat, add a splash of water and heat in the microwave or stove.
Eggplant & Cauliflower Maqluba
- 1 kg lamb cubes
- 4 onion, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 pieces of cardamon pods
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 2 tsp 7-spice powder
- 1 tsp white pepper powder
- ½ tsp black pepper powder
- 1 tsp salt
- A handful offresh coriander
- 6 cups of water
- 5 cups Calrose rice
- 1 head of Cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 3-4 Eggplant, cut into 1-inch thick slices
- Frying oil
- ⅓ cup toasted Almonds
- Parsley,roughly chopped
- In a large pot, heat a couple of tablespoonsof vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and whole spices and sautéuntil the onions are translucent. Add lamb cubes and fry until browned—seasonwith ground spices. Pour in 6 to 8 cups of water, bring the liquid to a boil,and reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot and simmer for about 45 to 60minutes. Strain the broth and set aside the lamb pieces and onions.
- Wash and rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes, then drain and setaside.
- Heat vegetable oil in a shallow pot over medium-high heat. Fry eggplant slices in batches until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat the steps with the cauliflower and potatoes.
- To assemble the maqluba, start by scattering a sparse layer of rice at the bottom of a large non-stick pot. Add a layer of sliced tomatoes, half of the fried eggplants, cauliflowers, and half of the cooked lamb. Repeat the layers with half the rice, followed by the rest of the vegetables and lamb. Finally, top it with the remaining drained rice on top. Pour the reserved lamb broth over all the layers, ensuring it covers the rice by approximately 2 centimetres (add more water if necessary). Add four teaspoons of salt, then bring it to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot and letit simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes until the rice is cooked.
- Allow the pot to cool for 5 minutes, thenplace a plate more significant than the pot's base on the mouth of your pan andcarefully flip it upside down. Let the ingredients settle for a few minutes,then slowly remove the pot. Garnish the maqluba with toasted almonds and freshparsley.