upside-down rice with sweet potatoes

Years ago, when the boys were little, I chatted with a beduin mom in the playground in Yerucham, the small town in the dessert of Israel where I grew up.
Since I love to talk about food, I asked her if she cooks. She said she did, everyday. So I asked her what is their typical dish, that one dish she cooks all the time and everyone in her family loves. She said chicken maqluba. I don’t leave playgrounds without recipes, she was happy to share the recipe and I was happy to know what I was going to make for dinner.

It was so simple and delicious that I started to make it often and make my own versions; I cooked the rice with different veggies and sometimes with dried fruits like she suggested and put veggies in the bottom of the pan instead of chicken. What I loved about it then and now is that everything is cooked in one pot and the flipping and revealing elements, which create anticipation and excitement, even if it collapses a minute later. The word maqluba in Arabic means upside-down.

I read a little bit about the dish and discovered that it goes back centuries and is found in the Kitab al-Tabikh, a collection of 13th century recipes, which I immediately googled and found a translated version of the collection, A Bagdad Cookery Book. Looking forward to see what else this food Quran has to offer. 


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