Middle Eastern

Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice – maqlooba

 Chicken and Rice_maqlooba

In the Middle East, there is a traditional way of making maqlooba which means flipped over, loosely translated. It’s basically meat, vegetables and rice cooked separately, then layered in one pot topped with broth and cooked. Then it is allowed to cool, then flipped onto a serving tray and some people top with nuts and/or raisins.

Depending on which region of the Middle East the maqlooba has originated from, the ingredients can vary. This dish is very similar to kabsa, the main difference I see is that maqlooba is flipped and kabsa is layered after it’s cooked (correct me if I’m wrong).

I usually make this dish with eggplant, cauliflower, onion and tomato (in the summer, I’ll probably post that when the time comes). Since it is winter and I am using what I have available to me in my area (and on hand), I am only using carrot as the vegetable and a side of parsley salad which is basically tabouli with no tomato or burgul/bulgar. I have also chosen to top it with nut I have on hand; almond slivers, cashew and pistachio. In the winter a steaming side of broth should be served as well J.

The flavor here comes from the broth, so it’s important to make your own at home, you can use this recipe here. You don’t have to make the whole chicken, just choice cuts with the bone on for this recipe.


  • 4 C boiled chicken (I use the meat from making chicken broth)
  • 2 C basmati or jasmine rice, washed well and drained
  • 4 C homemade chicken broth
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced

*2 Cups optional nuts for topping; almond, pistachio, cashew, walnuts PLUS 1 Tbs. butter for toasting


  1. Get a pot that is about 8 inches in diameter.
  2. First layer the cooked chicken evenly in the bottom of the pot.
  3. Then layer the vegetables evenly on top.
  4. Next, sprinkle the rice evenly and carefully pour the chicken broth all over the rice.
  5. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer on low for about 15 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid, add more liquid of needed. (Depending on which rice you use, you may need a little more broth and a little more time.)
  6. When it’s done, remove the lid and let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes, then you’re ready to flip it.
  7. To flip the pot, you will need to get a round serving dish or tray with a large lip (I use my glass Pyrex round pan).
  8. Place the serving dish over the top of the pot and quickly turn it over so now the pot is upside-down on the serving dish. Leave this for about 15 minutes or longer to set.
  9. Then, slowly lift the pot off.
  10. You can top with toasted nuts if you’d like.

Serve with a side of broth and a sour salad such as parsley salad, simple salad, or plain yogurt.

Zatar Mix

Zatar Spices

Zatar mix is a mixture of spices that is very popular in the Middle East. It is said that it makes the kids smart, which is why it is popular to send the kids off to school with either a breakfast of a zatar sandwich with olive oil or as a portable lunch – or both.

Buying a mixture from a store is definitely not the same as a homemade mixture. They key is in the toasted sesame. Some people add nuts also to the mixture, but not necessary, but if you feel like it, you can. I could swear that a mixture I bought one time was made with green died hamster shavings! Fortunately, this tasty mix can be made at home, you just have to find the source for the thyme and sumac which can be found in Middle Eastern stores, or there are some good organic sources such as Mountain Rose Herbs, Bulk Herb Store, and I’m sure others. Please let  us know if you have found any other sources.


  • 1 C thyme,dried and powdered
  • 1 1/2 C toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. unrefined salt
  • 2 Tbs. sumac


  1. Mix all herbs together and adjust taste accordingly. The ingredients should be used as an outline only. If its too tangy, add more toasted sesame and salt if needed.
  2. Store in an airtight container (preferably glass).

Use For:

Zatar mana’eesh using either a gluten free dough recipe or this recipe/instructions and instead of cheese, make a paste by mixing zatar and olive oil, spread over unbaked dough rounds and then bake as directed in the link.

Sprinkled on veggies with olive oil

Sprinkled on any cheese, lebneh, cottage cheese, etc… with tomato and/or cucumber

Final Product:

Zatar Mix