Beef Maqlooba Recipe- (Upside Down Middle Eastern Rice) Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

My family isn't the biggest eggplant fans. This is annoying, because eggplant is a veggie that I can get relatively cheaply most of the time, and I very often get eggplant for free. And of course, most of the time I cook up that eggplant, my kids refuse to eat it. Which is a bummer.
This recipe, maqlooba, is a Middle Eastern dish, meaning "upside down", which is how it is generally served- by flipping the ready dish upside down... though I never bother flipping it upside down, and just serve it straight from the pot. Maqlooba is also made with eggplant... and my family enjoys it, despite the eggplant.
I've made maqlooba twice already, and both times it was polished off before I could take a picture (right now I just have a little bit left in the pot, so I can't photograph it). It really is delicious.
Best part is that this recipe can be made with cheapo cuts of beef, but it is still super soft and delicious.

Maqlooba is slightly complex to make, and takes a few hours, but in my opinion, it's worth every minute of prep time.
(Next time I make it, I'll try to get a pic and update this post to include the photograph.)

Beef Maqlooba Recipe- (Upside Down Middle Eastern Rice) Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free

3-4 tablespoons oil (I used olive, but any is ok)
2 large onions
6 cardamom pods
2 cloves garlic
2 lbs beef- any cut is fine, even tougher cuts. I used fore shank as well as goulash cubes/stew meat
4+ cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 large eggplants, salted
2 cups rice
1-2 tomatoes
Pomegranate seeds (optional)

1. Chop your onions and saute in oil. Add chopped garlic and cardamom pods.

2. Add the meat (if using cubed beef, add already cubed; if using a hunk of beef, chop after cooking if need be, or cut up as much as you can when raw) and water, salt, cinnamon, and allspice.

3. Boil, covered, until the meat is fully soft. This can take a few hours. Keep checking to make sure you don't run out of water. When meat is fully cooked, turn off and let cool.

4. Slice your eggplant and salt it. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then squeeze out the liquid, and wash off the eggplant well to remove any salt.

5. Slice a tomato.

6. Line the bottom and sides of a deep baking dish (I use my cast iron dutch oven) with the eggplant slices. Add the tomato slices as well.

7. Chop up the beef into bite sized chunks. Add on top of the eggplant.

8. Add the rice.

9. Add the liquid from cooking the beef, plus enough water to make 4 or 5 cups of liquid. Cover.

10. Bake at 350 for about 30-45 minutes (or longer if the water you added to the pot was cold) or until all the water is absorbed and/or the rice is cooked. (If you see the rice isn't cooked and the water is all gone, add more water.)

11. Serve garnished with pomegranate seeds, if you so desire.

Ever have maqlooba before? Does this sound like a recipe you or your family would enjoy? 
If your family isn't eggplant fans, is there any eggplant dish that they do enjoy? If so, what is it?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I love eggplant and will absolutely try this (though I might add some raisins...I love raisins with eggplant, no idea why.) Usually we chunk the eggplant, toss with oil, and roast it, lightly salted. Then eat like potato chips. Yum.

  2. HI Penny,
    My husband is middle eastern and I make metloobi (we pronounce it a little different) every once in awhile. However, I substitute cauliflower for the egg plant and don't use all those spices. My kids really like it. Baba ganooge, a middle eastern dip, is a great way to use/hide egg plant. Dip veggies or gluten free bread in it!
    Thanks for your blog. I really enjoy it!

  3. Hm, it seems like a lot less of a hassle than moussaka. I'll have to give this a shot; eggplants are also pretty cheap right around this time of year, but my husband is a pickier eater than kidlet and won't touch the stuff outside of ratatouille.

    1. Funny you said about it being less of a hassle than moussaka because my family also likes that, so I was contemplating making that instead, but then decided I didn't feel like doing the work to make moussaka... So stuck with this instead. I wish my family enjoyed ratatouille.

  4. That sounds delicious. I got my children eating eggplant by peeling it and adding it to cottage pie.

  5. Goodness that was tasty!! Thanks for posting.

  6. Made it again and then turned the leftovers into soup!

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