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Makloubeh (Palestinian Flipped Rice)


A layered rice dish (known as Maqluba) – made vegan, with a fusion of hearty earthy flavours. Made with a variation of crispy yet juicy vegetables and meat. This plant-based version is a great alternative to the traditional Palestinian national dish. It’s a centrepiece that will bring the ultimate comfort food to your table.

Vegan Maqluba (Flipped Palestinian Rice Dish)
Vegan Makloubeh – Palestinian Flipped Rice Dish

About The Recipe

  • Layered rice dish
  • Meatless | Vegan
  • Oil-free option
  • Crowd-pleaser

What Is Makloubeh?

A Palestinian national favourite!
The word Makloubeh (pronounced: ma-q-loob-eh), translates to Flipped in Arabic.
Often referred to as up-side down, due to the way the food is presented/served.

It’s a layered rice dish, with meat and vegetables par-cooked separately first, before layering in the pot to finish off with the rice. This vegan Maqluba version is no different than the traditional meat-based one!

Once everything is cooked, it’s flipped upside down on a giant plate for the big reveal. Topped with toasted nuts and a garnish of parsley. Served with a side salad, and/or a garlicky cucumber yoghurt sauce (check the recipes at the end). It’s packed with warm and earthy flavours, and a combination of textures in between the layers.

What makes it so special is that it’s all about convenience. There are many different variations to the dish, made of different kinds of meats and veggies. Chicken is usually paired with cauliflower and potatoes, while beef is combined with eggplants and tomatoes. But the options are unlimited!

Check out how we make our Vegan Makloubeh in this step-by-step tutorial.


How To Make Vegan Makloubeh

Makloubeh consists of 3 main parts: (1) rice as a base, (2) meat filling, and (3) vegetables of different shapes and textures.

The vegetables are par-cooked before layering in the pot. Next the meat filling sits in the centre as a middle layer. Finished with rice on top to cook. Once cooked, it’s flipped upside down (hence the name) – making the rice at the bottom.


Ingredients You Need

This vegan Maqluba is made with wholesome plant-based ingredients to replace the traditional meat filling. With the addition of a few more vegetables, rice, and a spice mix, this recipe comes together fairly quickly. Here’s what you’ll need:

Vegetables

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Potatoes
    or substitute for other vegetables
Vegan Maqluba Vegetables Ingredients.
Vegetables Ingredients

Vegan Meat Filling

  • Chickpeas
  • Walnuts
  • Tofu
  • Onions
Vegan Maqluba Meatless Filling Ingredients.
Meatless Filling Ingredients

Spice Mix

  • Seven spice
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric (or bharat bardeh)
  • Salt
Vegan Maqluba Spice Mix.
Makloubeh Spice Mix

Rice & More

  • Long grain rice/basmati
  • Vegetable broth
  • Bayleaves
  • Pine nuts
  • Parsley
Vegan Maqluba Rice in pot.
Rice in Pot

Preparing The Vegetables

First wash the vegetables. Make sure the potato and eggplant slices are completely dry before air-frying. Use a clean kitchen towel to keep them dry.

Vegan Maqluba Vegetables - sliced eggplants and potatoes.
Sliced Eggplants & Potatoes

To air fry:

  • Coat the potato and eggplant slices with a little oil spray (optional).
  • Air fry for 15-20 minutes at 325 F (or 165 C) – flipping halfway.
  • Remove and set aside over paper towels – See Notes (3).
Vegan Maqluba - Vegetables (sliced eggplants and potatoes) in Air Fryer.
Air Frying Eggplants & Potato Slices

To bake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  • Place the potatoes and eggplants (coated in oil spray) on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or tin foil.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway. Set aside for later.

More things to prep:

  • Press the tofu – Drain the block of tofu from liquids in package. Wrap in a clean cloth. Place under a heavy bowl of fruit/books for 15 minutes, or use a tofu press.
  • Prepare the rice – Rinse thoroughly until water runs clear. Soak in a large bowl with warm water for 15-20 minutes. Rinse again and drain well.
  • Dice the onions and slice the tomatoes. Set aside for later.
  • Mix the spice mix ingredients in a small bowl.

Making The Meat Filling

I grew up eating Makloubeh with the meat cooked separately. My mom often served meat on the side (where possible), and we each would top our own dish with some meat – if we wanted to. Which makes veganizing it a little easier. All you’d need is vegan ground meat alternatives, cooked in a separate pan.

But I opted for a healthier alternative, using a combination of 3 whole-food plant-based ingredients:

  1. Chickpeas
  2. Walnuts
  3. Tofu

Once smashed, crushed, and crumbled – they work so well together in absorbing all the good flavours of the Maqluba (made vegan).

Vegan Maqluba Meatless Filling Ingredients.
Meatless Filling Ingredients

Preparing The Vegan Meat Filling

  • Mash the chickpeas, leaving some in whole.
  • Crumble the tofu into small chunks over the chickpeas.
  • Add in the crushed walnuts
  • Mix everything to combine.

Cooking The ‘Meat’

  • In a hot pan/pot over medium-high heat with oil (or broth), sauté the onions until translucent – about 5-7 minutes. Adding splashes of broth to avoid burning, if needed.
  • Add in the vegan meat mixture and cook for a few minutes, until it changes colour.
  • Add the spice mix and stir to combine.
  • Lower the temperature to medium
  • Continue cooking for 10 minutes, until browned – stirring occasionally. Remove and set aside.

Layering The Pot

  • Place the tomato slices at the bottom.
  • Layer the eggplant slices, overlapping to avoid gaps – creating a bowl-like bottom to hold the meat.
  • Add the vegan meat mixture, packing it (slightly) tightly with the back of a spoon.
  • Cover with the potato slices to close off the meat layer.
  • Carefully sprinkle the drained rice over the potatoes, spreading it with your hands to make it as flat as possible.
  • Place a spoon at the edge of the rice, with the back of it facing upwards. Slowly drizzle the broth onto the spoon to drizzle down and cover the pot.
  • Top it off with the bayleaves, and cinnamon stick (optional). Then cover with a heat-proof plate, pushing it down slightly to hold in place – See Notes (5).

For the best shape to hold still, try not to spill the broth directly on top of the rice. Instead, move the spoon all around the edge to evenly fill the pot.


Cooking The Vegan Maqluba

  • Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then set to low.
  • Cover with the lid. Cook for 30-40 minutes (carefully removing the plate after 10 minutes), until the rice is fully cooked.
  • Remove from heat, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and place a large flat serving plate over the rim of the pot – lining it up in the centre.
  • Hold the pot from both handles, while covering the plate at the top with both hands (wearing oven mitts).
  • Lift the pot (high enough), and carefully flip the pot inwards (towards you), as you lower it down to the surface. You should hear a drop as you flip.
  • Tap the top of the pot with your hands to make sure everything fell in place. Carefully lift the pot for the big reveal.
  • Top it off with toasted pine nuts and freshly chopped parsley.

How-To Make Makloubeh Video

Watch this video to see how to make our vegan Maqluba. Tap next to check each step.


How To Serve Makloubeh

Makloubeh is usually served for a big lunch/dinner, with a side salad, or a cucumber & mint yoghurt. Or both! The fresh earthy vibes balance off the warm flavours in the dish. I often like to drizzle some sriracha on top as well.

For the quick lazy salad – Mix together:

  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tomatoes, small dice
  • 1/2 english cucumber, half-sliced
  • 4-5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups (tightly packed) spinach/salad spring
  • Vinaigrette: 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 lemon + zest, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp pomegranate molasses, salt & pepper to taste.

For the Vegan Garlicky Cucumber & Mint Yoghurt – Mix together:

  • 1 cup vegan yoghurt alternative (cultured almond, neutral flavour)
  • 1 english cucumber, small dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
  • Salt & pepper to taste

This is a great Palestinian dish to showcase that Arabic food can easily be veganized, and that following a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean that we have to let go of our cultural identity. Not to mention the vegan cultural dishes that have been served for hundreds of years by Arabs: like Mujaddarah, Hummus, Falafel, amongst many others!

Vegan Maqluba (Flipped Palestinian Rice Dish)
Vegan Makloubeh – Palestinian Flipped Rice Dish

Check out my interview with Val & Mani from Plantbased Passport in a BIPOC Profile Series at Best of Vegan to read more about my journey towards veganism, and how I incorporate my favourite childhood dishes in a plant-based version.


Vegan Makloubeh Recipe

Hope you give this vegan recipe a try. I’m sure you’ll love it! If you do, I’d love to hear about your experience. Leave me a comment below, and rate the recipe with ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. This will help us sustain demeals.

Take a photo of your dish, and tag us on Instagram @demeals.ca #demeals so we can see your remake!

Vegan Makloubeh (Palestinian Flipped Rice)

Recipe by Waseem HijaziCourse: Dinner, EntréeCuisine: Palestinian, Arab, Middle EasternDifficulty: Easy
Servings

8-10

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

50

minutes
Total time

1

hour 

layered rice dish (known as Maqluba) – made vegan, with a fusion of hearty earthy flavours. Made with a variation of crispy yet juicy vegetables and meat. This plant-based version is a great alternative to the traditional Palestinian national dish. It’s a centrepiece that will bring the ultimate comfort food to your table.

Equipment:
1. Large pot, with handles underneath – See Notes (2)
2. Air-fryer/baking sheet, or deep fryer – See Notes (3)
3. Large skillet/pan for cooking

Ingredients

  • Vegan Meat Filling
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed & dried

  • 400 g extra firm tofu, drained & pressed

  • 1 cup walnuts, crushed

  • Spice Mix
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp seven spice

  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cardamom

  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1 small cinnamon stick)

  • 1/4 tsp turmeric – See Notes (4)

  • 1 tsp salt – adjust to taste

  • Vegetables
  • 2 onions, small diced

  • 6 roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch

  • 8 small potatoes, peeled & sliced 1/4 inch

  • 2 large eggplants, sliced 1/2 inch

  • The Rest
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil

  • Spray oil

  • 3 cups veggie broth (more if needed to cover the pot)

  • 2 cups long grain rice (basmati), rinsed & soaked

  • 2 bayleaves

  • 1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted

  • Parsley for garnish

Directions

  • Preparing
  • Drain and press the tofu for 15 minutes to release the liquids. Place under a heavy bowl of fruit, or use a tofu press instead. Pat dry with clean towel to remove excess liquids.
  • Wash the vegetables. Make sure the potato and eggplant slices are completely dry before air-frying. I use a clean kitchen towel to keep them dry – See Notes (3).
  • Prepare the vegan meat filling in a large bowl. Mash the chickpeas, leaving some in whole. Crumble the tofu into small chunks over the chickpeas. Add in the crushed walnuts, and mix everything to combine.
  • Mix the spices in a small bowl. Set aside for later.
  • Prepare the rice. Rinse thoroughly until water runs clear. Soak in a large bowl with warm water for 15-20 minutes. Rinse again and drain well.
  • Cooking
  • Coat the potato and eggplant slices with a little oil spray (optional). Air fry for 15-20 minutes at 325 F (or 165 C) – flipping halfway. Remove and set aside over paper towels.
  • In a hot pan/pot over medium-high heat with oil (or broth), sauté the onions until translucent – about 5-7 minutes. Adding splashes of broth to avoid burning, if needed.
  • Add in the vegan meat filling and cook for a few minutes, until it changes colour. Add the spice mix and stir to combine. Lower the temperature to medium and cook for 10 minutes, until browned – stirring occasionally. Remove and set aside.
  • Start layering the pot. Place the tomato slices at the bottom. Layer the eggplant slices, overlapping to avoid gaps – creating a bowl-like bottom to hold the meat. Add the vegan meat filling, packing it (slightly) tightly with the back of a spoon. Cover with the potato slices to close off the meat layer.

    Carefully sprinkle the drained rice over the potatoes, spreading it with your hands to make it as flat as possible. Place a spoon at the edge of the rice, with the back of it facing upwards. Slowly drizzle the broth onto the spoon to drizzle down and cover the pot. Top it off with the bayleaves, and cinnamon stick (optional). Then cover with a heat-proof plate, pushing it down slightly to hold in place – See Notes (5).
  • Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then set to low. Cover with the lid. Cook for 30-40 minutes (carefully removing the plate after 10 minutes), until the rice is fully cooked. Remove from heat, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • Serving
  • Remove the lid and place a large flat serving plate over the rim of the pot – lining it up in the centre. Hold the pot from both handles, while covering the plate at the top with both hands (wearing oven mitts). Lift the pot (high enough), and carefully flip the pot inwards (towards you), as you lower it down to the surface. You should hear a drop as you flip.
  • Tap the top of the pot with your hands to make sure everything fell in place. Carefully lift the pot for the big reveal.
  • Top it off with toasted pine nuts and freshly chopped parsley.
  • Serve with a side salad and/or vegan garlicky cucumber yoghurt sauce.
  • Optional: dinner Mezze – Raw radish, green onions, and pickles to balance out the flavours from the Makloubeh and spicy yoghurt.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • (1) Pick your vegetables – There are multiple versions of Makloubeh out there. Each with a different set of vegetables that go well with the choice of meat that’s traditionally used in the dish: chicken vs. beef. Feel free to sub in (or add) different veggies if you’re not a fan of some of the ingredients in here.
  • (2) Flipping the pot – It’s easier to complete the flip if you use a large pot with handles going underneath the rim. If not available, that’s okay. Do your best to flip it on the edge of the plate you’re serving it on. Be careful with the gap formed between the rim of the pot and your plate. Use a large spoon to push the food back inside the pot before fully removing it for the final reveal.
  • (3) Eggplants & Potatoes – Traditionally deep fried. I opted for an almost oil-free version, using an air-fryer with some oil spray. I also made this recipe by baking them in the oven instead, and it turned out just as good. Adjust the temperature to 350 F, and increase the cook time to 25-30 minutes instead. You can still deep fry if you wish.

    You can use the salt method to drain out the eggplants for a crispier bite. But since they will soften down while cooking in the pot, no need to have them super dry.
  • (4) Turmeric – A more common ingredient to use is “bharat bardeh” or “cold spices”. Usually available in local middle eastern grocery shops. Though turmeric makes a good replacement, if it’s not available.
  • (5) Rice & Broth – For the best shape to hold still, try not to spill the broth directly on top of the rice. Instead, move the spoon all around the edge to evenly fill the pot with broth.
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