“Maqlouba” in Arabic translates to “upside down” and this dish can be found throughout the Levant. A big pot is layered with grilled vegetables, meats and fragrant, coloured rice, then flipped over and scattered with nuts and herbs, and served with plenty of thick yoghurt. There’s a lot that goes into this recipe, but a spectacular dish like this can be an occasion in itself.






Skill level

Average: 3 (353 votes)


  • 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • 2 kg boneless lamb leg, cut into 3 cm cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp baharat (see Note) or garam masala
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 zucchini, sliced into 6 mm rounds
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 6 mm rounds
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 small tomatoes, sliced into 6 mm rounds

Ancient grain rice mixture

  • 500 g (2½ cups) basmati rice, washed, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 2 tbsp black rice, washed, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 2 tbsp white quinoa, washed
  • 1 tbsp amaranth
  • 1 tbsp millet
  • 1 tbsp buckwheat
  • 2 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp baharat or garam masala

Salad Shirazi

  • 1 telegraph cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds removed, finely diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

To serve

  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • lemon wedges
  • 2 cups Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Standing time 35 minutes

To make the lamb braise, heat a little of the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat and fry the lamb, in batches, until well browned. Return all the lamb to the pan with the onion, spices, bay leaves and salt, and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add enough cold water to submerge the lamb, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 1 hour until the lamb is tender, skimming any scum that rises to the surface and adding more water to the pan if necessary. Strain the lamb and reserve the stock. Add enough water to the stock to make 1.5 litres.

Meanwhile, working in batches, heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the zucchini, eggplant and cauliflower until golden. Remove and set aside.

Place the ingredients for the ancient grain rice mixture in a bowl and mix well.

Grease and line a 26 cm heavy pot and brush it with olive oil. Layer the tomato, zucchini and eggplant in the base of the pot. Scatter over the lamb, then the cauliflower. Add the rice mixture and spread out evenly. Pour in the stock. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is tender. Turn off the heat and allow to stand for a further 30 minutes without removing the lid.

Combine the ingredients for the salad Shirazi in a bowl.

Invert the maqlouba pot onto a large dish or serving platter and leave it untouched for 5 minutes to release from the pot and settle. Remove the pot and garnish the maqlouba with mint leaves, nuts and pomegranate seeds. Serve with the salad Shirazi, lemon wedges, and yoghurt dressed with a little salt and olive oil.



• Baharat spice mix is available from Middle Eastern or gourmet food shops.