Makloubeh

Courtesy of Jenna Kashou

I dedicate this to my Teta (Arabic for grandmother). The rattle from her stack of gold bracelets clanking together, the sweet aroma of onions caramelizing in olive oil, a flickering TV screen always on in the background showing a dramatic Arab soap opera—these are the sounds, smells and sights of my childhood. Azizeh Kashou (1929-2014) raised a family of five and cooked every day for nearly 75 years. Born in Ramallah, Palestine, she prepared traditional Arab fare, heavily laden with allspice and, as often as possible, with lamb. The recipe below is a Kashou family favorite. The Spanish have paella and the Arabs have makloubeh. This rice-based dish with vegetables can be also be made without the meat, but that would just be a mistake. The crowning moment in successfully preparing this recipe is the flip at the very end, so be sure you have a set of strong hands and a sturdy platter.

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 medium sized eggplant (optional), peeled and sliced thin 4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 ½ lbs. lamb, cubed (shanks or stew meat)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1 cup skinny egg noodles
  • allspice, olive oil, salt and pepper

Spice the meat with salt and pepper, and a generous coating of allspice. (Add a bit of cinnamon if desired). Brown the meat on both sides in a pan.

Fry the cauliflower in olive oil until golden and set aside on paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Next, fry the potatoes and onions in olive oil until soft. (You can also roast the cauliflower, onions and potatoes in the oven for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees).

In the same pan, sauté the egg noodles in butter until brown and add rice to blend.

In a large pot, layer the meat, slices on tomato, eggplant, then the cauliflower and potatoes.

Add the rice/noodle mixture on top and add 4 cups of water. Let it come to a fast boil and then cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes, then turn pot upside down in a large platter and allow the rice to spread out with the lamb and vegetables on top.

Serve with plain yogurt.

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