Our Syrian feast
In my last post on our second full day in Grenoble I introduced you to Maqlooba, a traditional arabic dish which was prepared for us by Hana’s cousin from Syria. We were staying with him in his apartment in Grenoble for a week in May 2015.
He prepared this for us that evening as he wanted to share a dish he loved and something which he felt was a part of Syrian culture he could still share with us, even if we won’t be able to go to Syria and see his village for many years.
Maqlooba or Malooba, depending on the translation is a traditional arabic dish made from mince, rice, aubergine and tomatoes. It is deceptively simple in that it consists of just a few ingredients but ends up being a really flavoursome and tasty dish. From the ingredients dish below you’d be forgiven for thinking it might be bland or not have taste to it, but you’d be very wrong.
As the Maqlooba is filled with rice I was a little worried that it would be quite dry, that much rice could end up being super stodgy and dry. It came out much lighter than I thought it would. The rice didn’t clump together like I thought it might. You can see in the pictures that each grain of rice is separate and coated in the juices from the lamb mince and vegetables.
Depending on the size of your tin, this dish should serve a hungry family. I’d serve it with just a light side salad as you already have carbs, meat and vegetables in one dish.
This recipe is taken from notes I made as it was prepared and cooked. Nothing was weighed out so it is really a rough idea of how to make a Maqlooba.
500g Minced lamb
2 white onions, thickly sliced
3 large aubergine (eggplant) , sliced lengthways
3 large tomatoes, sliced
1 take away container of Basmatti rice, soaked but not cooked.
Non-stick baking tin
Prepare the ingredients as directed above, making sure to soak the rice for around 20 minutes or so.
Take the sliced aubergine (eggplant) and fry it off in batches in a pan of vegetable oil. You want to soften the aubergine slices and for them to take on a lovely rich golden colour, but not to overcook them or for the aubergine to become blackened. Drain the oil from the cooked aubergine slices and reserve for later.
Using the same pan, drain away some of the oil so you only have a thin coating on the bottom of the pan. Add the onions for a few minutes so they soften and start to take on some colour. Add in curry powder to taste along with black pepper and oregano.
Add the lamb mince and brown over a medium heat and again make sure you don’t overcook the lamb and onions. After 10 – 15 minutes remove from the heat.
Putting it all together
Take stove proof tin or non-stick saucepan without a handle. Line the base of the dish with half of the sliced tomatoes.
Take the cooked aubergine slices and line the base and sides of the dish as shown in the picture below.
Fill in the dish with the minced lamb and onion mix, pat this down. Cover with another layer of tomatoes.
Top this with the soaked, but not cooked, rice. Add 2-3 take away boxes of water, enough to cover the rice.
Cook, covered, over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes. To serve turn upside down, like an upside down cake. Tap the saucepan or tin and turn out onto a plate. It should look something like this.