Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by Jacqueline Rafidi
Chicken and cauliflower makloubeh is one of my favorite meals.
This traditional Palestinian dish comes in many varieties, vegetarian, lamb or beef, some people add eggplant in place of cauliflower – or add both! The chicken and cauliflower makloubeh tends to be my favorite. Whether you say it “Makloubeh” “Maqloubeh” or “Ma2loubeh” (like me), this is always a winning meal.
Makloubeh, which means “upside down”, gets its name from the motion of flipping the pot onto the tray and lifting the pot to reveal the beautiful meal. This chicken and cauliflower makloubeh is no different, the beautiful layers reveal them selves once the pot is lifted and once it’s ready, this meal is fit for royalty.
My cousin also makes a curry makloubeh which is just incredible and I’m planning to share here one day. I haven’t had it in years but it still seems to linger in my mind, it’s one of those kind of amazing dishes.
Makloubeh is a very important dish for me to share, it has strong ties to Palestinian identity and it is undeniably a classic Palestinian meal. Although each household may make them differently, whenever we eat it, it’s like waving a big Palestinian flag.
I’m so proud of my heritage and I’m very thrilled to share this meal with you, I hope you give this version a try!
Making Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh
Season, sear and boil the chicken. Searing it in the same pot you boil it in adds tons of depth in flavor to the final dish.
Roast or fry the cauliflower. I love a good cauliflower sandwich and to me, the cauliflower does taste better when fried. But in the last 5 years or so, I haven’t been frying it for 2 reason – 1. It’s obviously much better for your health to roast it and the pieces stay larger which I tend to like better. 2. Having an open fryer going with 2 kids running around is just not my cup of tea haha. So I’ve been roasting the cauliflower.
Pause here. Make yourself a pita bread and cauliflower sandwich. Mandatory.
Caramelize the onions. This adds a nice bit of sweetness and added layer of flavor to the makloubeh
Spice up your rice. Did you read that in a Spice Girls voice? Good. Set the rice aside.
Assemble the pot. To assemble the chicken and cauliflower makloubeh, add olive oil to the pot, add some sliced tomatoes and potatoes. Then add the cooked chicken, the cauliflower, the onions, and the rice (in that order). Top it off with the broth, bring the liquid all the way to the top of the rice. Use the back of a wooden spoon to create little holes through the ingredients in the pot which helps release the steam.
Cover and cook. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook 45 min to 1 hour or until the rice is fully cooked.
Flip the chicken and cauliflower makloubeh onto a tray, carefully lift the pot and reveal the beauty queen of a meal.
Although this is a time intensive meal, the steps are relatively easy. I hope you give this a try and that it brings you as much joy as it does for us!
More Palestinian meals
When you make this chicken and cauliflower makloubeh, comment down below and rate this recipe to let me know your thoughts! Also share a picture or tag me on Instagram @thebitewithjackie, I love seeing your remakes!
Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh
For the chicken:
- 1 whole chicken cut up into 8 segments – bone in, skin removed
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 ½ teaspoons allspice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 dried bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the veggies:
- 1 large head or 2 small heads of cauliflower cut into florets (about 8 cups)
- 3 onions sliced
- 3-4 russet potatoes peeled and sliced
- 3 tomatoes sliced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
For the rice:
- 4 cups basmati or jasmine rice rinsed thoroughly
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400F (If you plan to fry your cauliflower, skip this step)
- Prepare the chicken – add the chicken to a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and all the spices and rub it on each portion of the meat. In a large pot, add the olive oil and heat to medium-high. Add each piece of chicken and sear until golden brown crust develops on all sides but the chicken is not cooked through. Remove each piece after it sears, place on a plate and set aside.
- Once all the chicken is seared, add it back into the pot – I like to place the larger pieces at the bottom – cover entirely with water and add the bay leaves. Bring this to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 45 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
- While the chicken boils, prepare your cauliflower. If roasting, place the cauliflower on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes or until golden, softened and slightly crisp on the edges. If frying, fill a frying pan or Dutch oven with 1-2 inches of neutral oil (I like to use avocado oil) and fry the florets in batches until golden, set aside to a paper towel lined plate.
- Fry the onions in a nonstick skillet with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Cook down until caramelized – about 12-15 minutes.
- Once the chicken is done, remove it to a plate and strain out the broth into a heat proof bowl. Taste the broth for seasoning and set the chicken and the broth aside. Add the spices to your rinsed rice, set aside.
- To assemble, add a touch of olive oil and the sliced tomatoes to the bottom of a large pot with a fitting lid, then add the potatoes. Arrange the chicken neatly on top starting with the larger pieces, then add the roasted cauliflower, the caramelized onions, and the spiced rice. Gently pour the broth over the whole pot until the liquid reaches the top of the rice – if you need more liquid, add water. Use the back of a wooden spoon to gently create little holes in the center of the pot through the ingredients which helps the steam release.
- Cover and bring the whole pot to a light boil and lower to a simmer. Let this cook for 45 min to 1 hour or until the rice is fully cooked through. Grab a large heat proof tray wider than the rim of the pot and with high sides, flip the tray upside town to the opening of the pot. Carefully flip the pot upside down onto the tray keeping the tray intact with the pot the whole time and let it sit 5 minutes tapping the bottom of the pot.
- Gently lift the pot to reveal the makloubeh! Enjoy with plain yogurt, some jalapenos, and a simple salad.