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Vegan Makloubeh

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A Palestinian national favourite!

Makloubeh means Flipped.

It’s a layered one-pot dish, with a few veggies par-cooked separately first. Although some people do cook everything in the same one pot, removing then layering to finish off the rice dish.

Made with a variation of crispy and juicy textures that bring the ultimate dinner to your table. This dish makes a great everyday-meal, or serve it as a centrepiece on special occasions.

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


Let’s talk cooking!

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

What makes it so special is that it’s all about convenience. There are many different versions of 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!


Here’s the video for Vegan Makloubeh :


Ingredients

Here’s what’s in my Vegan Makloubeh:

  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Chickpeas
  • Tofu
  • Walnuts
  • Parsley
  • Spice Mix: seven spice, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric (or cold spices ‘bharat bardeh’)

For The Veggies

I decided to go for a less oily version of the fried veggies. While they’re typically deep fried, I went for an air-fryer instead. With a little spray oil, I got the same crispiness of a deep fryer. You can also oven-bake rather than air-frying, if you prefer.

Air-frying Option

Wash and prep the vegetables. Make sure the potato and eggplant slices are dry before air- frying. I use a clean kitchen towel to keep them dry. Spray with oil and layer in the air-fryer baskets to cook at 325 F for 15-20 minutes – flipping halfway. Set aside when ready.

Oven-baked Option

Layer the sliced potatoes and eggplants in a sheet pan, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes – at 350 F instead. Make sure to coat in oil spray and flip each slice halfway to avoid sticking to the pan.


For The Vegan Meat Mixture

I grew up eating Makloubeh with the ground beef cooked separately. My mom often served meat on the side (when 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 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) tofu, and (3) walnuts. Once smashed, crumbled, and crushed, they work so well together in absorbing all the good flavours of the Makloubeh.


Preparing The ‘Meat’

In a large bowl, smash the chickpeas, leaving some texture and a few beans in whole. Crumble the tofu into small chunks over the chickpeas. Add in the crushed walnuts, and mix everything to combine.

Cooking The ‘Meat’

In a hot pan over medium-high heat with oil (or broth), sauté the onions until translucent – about 5-7 minutes. Add in the “meat” mixture and cook for a couple of minutes, until it changes colour.

Drop in the spice mix and stir to combine. Lower the temperature to medium and cook for 10 minutes, or until browned. Stirring occasionally. Remove and set aside.


Putting It Together

Layering The Pot

Place the tomato slices around the edges, then fill in the centre with more tomatoes. Layer the eggplant slices close together, avoiding gaps. Add the “meat” mixture, packing it (slightly) tightly with the back of a spoon. Cover with the potato slices to close off the layers. 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.

– 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.

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 mins.


How To Serve

Makloubeh is usually served 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!

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.


Hope you give this recipe a try. I’m sure you will enjoy it! If you do, I would love to see your recreation and learn how it went. Leave me a comment here and tag me on Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest/TikTok @demeals.ca #demeals


Vegan Makloubeh

Recipe by Waseem HijaziCourse: Dinner, Lunch, EntréeCuisine: Palestinian, Middle Eastern, MediterraneanDifficulty: Easy, Intermediate
Servings

8-10

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

50

minutes

A layered one-pot dish, with a few veggies par-cooked separately first. Made with a variation of crispy and juicy textures that bring the ultimate dinner to your table. This dish makes a great everyday-meal, or serve it as a centrepiece on special occasions.
It’s packed with warm and earthy flavours, with a combination of textures in between the layers.

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

Ingredients

  • For The ‘Meat’ Mixture
  • 1 can chickpeas

  • 400 g extra firm tofu

  • 1 cup crushed walnuts

  • For The 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 small onion, small diced

  • 5-6 roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch

  • 5-8 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 – I used brown rice for extra nutrient

  • 2 bayleaves

  • 1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted

  • Parsley for garnish

Directions

  • Prepping
  • Drain and press the tofu for a few minutes to release the liquids.
  • Wash and prep the vegetables. Make sure the potato and eggplant slices are dry before air- frying. I use a clean kitchen towel to keep them dry.
    – You can use the salt method to drain out the eggplants for a crispier bite. But since they will soften down during the cooking in the pot, no need to have them super dry.
  • Prep the “meat” mixture in a large bowl. Smash the chickpeas, leaving some texture and a few beans 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.
  • Prepare the rice. Rinse thoroughly until water runs clear, then soak in a large bowl in warm water for 15-20 mins. Rinse again and drain well when ready.
  • Cooking
  • Coat the potatoes and eggplants with a little oil spray. Air-fry for 15-20 minutes at 325 F (or 163 C) – flipping halfway. Remove and set aside.
  • In a hot pan over medium-high heat with oil (or broth), sauté the onions until translucent – about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add in the “meat” mixture and cook for a couple of minutes, until it changes colour. Drop in the spice mix and stir to combine. Lower the temperature to medium and cook for 10 minutes, or until browned. Stirring occasionally. Remove and set aside.
  • Start layering the pot. Place the tomato slices around the edges, then fill in the centre with more tomatoes. Layer the eggplant slices close together, avoiding gaps. Add the “meat” mixture, packing it (slightly) tightly with the back of a spoon. Cover with the potato slices to close off the layers. 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.
    – 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.
  • 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 mins.
  • Serving
  • After resting in the pot for a few 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. 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.
    – Alternatively, lift the pot and place one hand at the bottom, with the other on top, and flip it quickly. Have someone assist you if needed.
  • 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. I like adding a bit of sriracha to my yoghurt for a little kick.
  • We also often drop a side plate of raw radish, green onions, and pickles to balance out the flavours from the Makloubeh and spicy yoghurt.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • (1) Pick your veg – 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. Make sure to adjust the spice mix accordingly.
  • (2) 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.
  • (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.

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