I’ve wanted to make this wonderful dish from Ottolenghi and Tamimi Jerusalem for some time, but I had to wait for the fortuitous confluence of cauliflower and aubergine in the kitchen garden. This happened last week. My desultory aubergine plants managed to produce another two fruits and I think I have mentioned the sudden glut of cauliflowers.
The recipe is moderately fiddly for a mid-week meal, but this produced 6 portions so we ate it for three days.
If you don’t eat meat you could omit the chicken and substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock.
Once sliced the presentation of the dish isn’t brilliant, but it tastes good and that is the key concern round here.
Maqluba: 6-8 chicken thighs (I used four of our naked neck thighs and this was plenty as they are chunk birds); 1 onion; a medium cauliflower; 2 medium aubergines; 320g basmati rice; 10 peppercorns; 2 bayleaves; 3-4 tomatoes; 4 garlic cloves; 1 tsp of turmeric, ground cinnamon, ground allspice and baharat; seasoning, oil.
Slice aubergines, brush with oil, place on a baking tray and cook in the oven until soft and golden (not black). Break the cauliflower into florets. Heat up some vegetable oil in a wide pan (about 2cm deep) and fry the cauliflower in batches until golden (and cooked) drain.
Rinse rice and leave to soak for 30 minutes
brown the chicken thighs in some oil in a pan. Cover with water, add the peppercorns, bay leaves and onions and simmer gently for 20 minutes or a bit less. Remove chicken, but save the stock – strain out the veggies and peppercorns and mix the spices into the stock and 1tsp of salt. Remove the chicken from the bones.
Oil a largish saucepan and line the bottom with greaseproof or baking paper. Start to layer the maqluba.
First put the sliced tomatoes at the base of the pot. Cover with the slices of aubergines and then the fired cauliflower. Next add the chicken pieces. Then place the rice on top. Push it down firmly and pour over the 700ml of stock. You might need a little more to completely cover the rice. This is why it is important to push everything down so you don’t use too much stock. I fear I did and the rice might have been a little over cooked.
Bring the pan to a simmer, cover and turn down to the lowest that and leave for 30 minutes. Then remove fro the heat, take off the lid and cover with a clean tea-towel and replace the lild. Let it rest for 10 minutes (or in our case longer as we weren’t read for dinner!)
When you are ready. Remove lid and tea-towel. Place a large plate over the saucepan and carefully invert it. Leave it inverted on the plate for a few minutes. Maybe give it a tap or two and then carefully remove. It should remain as a cake.
I sliced it into sections and we had it with cacik – yoghurt and cucumber – cucumbers are still just producing round here although rodents are eating them too!