Chicken Maqlooba or Upside Down Chicken Rice

Chicken Maqlooba or Upside Down Chicken Rice

There are many variations of the chicken rice dish ranging from the spicy versions in India and Sri Lanka to the milder sweeter versions of China. The Arabic versions found in the Middle East are very flavorful and rich. This dish, Maqlooba (upside down rice) is particularly tasty as it combines vegetables and meat into one hearty dish. The presentation is also unique as it is usually served as an upside down rice cake.


  • 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice
  • 600g of chicken thighs (bone in)
  • 1 large onion cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 eggplant sliced into circles
  • 2 potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 carrots sliced into circles
  • 1 bell pepper cut into 2 inch squares
  • 1 large tomato sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 3 pods of cardomom
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Vegetable oil for shallow frying


  1. Soak the rice for 10 minutes, drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  3. Shallow fry eggplant, carrots, potatoes and bell pepper separately until slightly golden.
  4. Blot excess oil using paper towels and keep the vegetables aside.
  5. Into a large pot, add the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon of allspice, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, cumin powder, cloves, garlic, onions, cardomom, nutmeg and 3 1/2 cups of water. Cover and boil for 20 minutes.
  6. Strain the stock and set aside.
  7. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot. Use a bit of oil in a frying pan to brown the chicken pieces on both sides. Set the chicken aside.
  8. Add the remaining allspice, turmeric and paprika to the rice. Mix until the rice is well coated.
  9. In a large pot layer bell pepper and eggplant on the bottom covered by a layer of rice.
  10. Layer the chicken, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes on top of each other.
  11. Layer the remaining rice on top.
  12. Add the chicken stock carefully on top of the rice. The stock level should be 1/2 inch above the rice.
  13. Cook until the rice is cooked and the stock has been absorbed.
  14. Remove from the heat and let the rice cool down for a few minutes.
  15. Put a plate on top of the pot and turn upside down to set the rice cake.
  16. Serve with yoghurt and a green salad.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s