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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5 from 1 vote

Maqluba (upside-down rice)

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Servings: 4 as a side dish
Author: Shelly


  • 1 small sweet potato or potato
  • 2 cups basmati or jasmine rice
  • 5 large shallots or 1 large onion - any onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon baharat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Handful scallion - parsley, dill or a little bit of each
  • 2 cups water or vegetable stock


  • Boil the sweet potato for 5 minutes until it’s just a bit tender and set on the side.
  • Wash the rice carefully until the water is clear (or soak in cold water for 20 minutes), let the rice sit in the colander to dry.
  • Chop the shallots or onion. Put the olive oil in a non stick sauce-pan and add the onions and spices. Saute in medium-low heat until onion is translucent. Remove from the pan and put in a medium bowl with the rice and scallion. Add salt and mix.
  • Peel the sweet potato and slice it into about ¼ inch / ½ cm slices. Drizzle a little olive oil into the pan and place the slices on the bottom of it.
  • Pour the rice over and put over high heat. Add water or stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, close the pan (I wrap the lid with a clean kitchen towel to seal it completely) and cook for 12 minutes (if you soaked the rice for 20 minutes or more, cook it for 10 minutes)
  • When the rice is ready, let it cool for 5 -10 minutes then remove the lid. Place a large plate over the pan and quickly flip it. Tap the pan a few times then gently and slowly lift it up.
  • Serve with tahini as a side dish.


Play with the recipe; add different type of vegetables to the rice or in the bottom of the pot.
Add dried fruits such as raisins, prunes, apricot into the rice and serve with chopped nuts such as almonds and pistachio like the Arabs do.

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  1. 5 stars
    Thanks For Sharing this Amazing Recipe. My Family Loved It. I will be sharing this Recipe with my Friends. Hope They will like it.

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