One of the most popular Levantine cuisine concoctions, “Maqloobeh” or as locally pronounced “Ma’loobeh”, could very well be the most loved shared dish in the Levant! It is everyone’s childhood memory, and everyone’s favourite comfort food. There is not a Levantine home that does not know, cook, love and appreciate Ma’loobeh!

That said, there are so many varieties and versions to Ma’loubeh and the sky is really the limit to what can be in your Ma’loobeh. Lets start with the basics:

Ma’loubeh is an Arabic word that literally means: turned upside down. And so if you wish to make it you have to make it in a way where you will turn the pot

Eggplant Maqloobeh & Tahini Salad on Arabic Calligraphy Plate and blue background

upside down and serve it with the upside down 🙂 That is where language is concerned, but where cuisine is concerned the must have element is that it is a one pot concoction where things are cooked together in one pot. It must include rice and vegetables these are not optional, and it must be a dry dish in the end, not a stew or soup. The meat is optional however more likely included than not. Where all things are sauteed together with olive oil and then cooked together until done then turned upside down and served.

If you have all the above elements carried out, then you are definitely serving a maqloobeh. Now all the other details are highly negotiable. Like: which meats, vegetables, combinations, spices…etc. that is all up to you really. Especially now a days, people do all types of things and creativity is always preferable, so no limits. It is your chance to use any leftover vegetables that you have and make up your own combinations and creations.

In Palestinian cuisine, we have many varieties of Maqloobeh, the most classic options being of course beitinjan (eggplant upside down) and this one is usually made with lamb meat. Then we have the cauliflower Maqloobeh, usually made with chicken. And we have the green broad beans Maqloubeh, which is a spring dish that celebrates the season’s new green broad beans, which can be made vegetarian (as it normally comes into season during the Lent fast) or can be made using lamb meat. These three are the most popular and traditional versions in Palestinian cuisine that are in this cuisine’s repertoire of foods. Over the years I have come to learn that across the Levant these three versions are the most widely spread and that all countries of the Levant make these three types. I have also found that all of us essentially follow the same guidelines in each version and the differences are very minute if any.

 

I have got together with my Syrian friend Omayah, where we both cooked the iconic  Maqloobet Beitinjan (eggplant upside down) in an attempt to see if the differences were substantial in the method between the two cuisines or if we made it more or less the same. Here is what I have found out, watch the video and see for yourself whether we cook this dish the same way in both Palestinian & Syrian Cuisine or if we make the exact same dish.

Because Maqloobeh is such an iconic Levantine dish and being a best loved and most popular dish everywhere, I decided to make this a bigger and better video by including not just 1, but 4 Maqloobeh dishes. There is mine, Omayah’s and I have invited my friends May of Almond and Fig and May of The Wizard of Yum to join Omayah and I showing us how to make 2 different versions of Maqloobeh from Palestinian cuisine. This way you will have seen how the 3 most iconic versions of this dish are made. Watch and enjoy…

 

 

You see, we share way more than we think, and it is natural as our culture in the Levant is so closely interactive that we all live essentially the same culture. It is very minute details that are different from one country to the other, but the over all view reveals that we share way more than we think almost identical! It is a period in history – when the whole levant was just one country – that forever shaped the people of its now different countries and this is a fact that while not so apparent to the eye at this time an age, is absolutely reflected in its cuisine! This is why cuisines are fascinating!

 

 

Look forward to hearing your thoughts..

Ramadan Mubarak

 

 

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