Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

Last Updated on February 4, 2024 by Jacqueline Rafidi

Chicken and cauliflower makloubeh is one of my favorite meals of all time. Also known as Middle Eastern upside down rice with its fragrant and fluffy layers of rice, tender chicken pieces and flavorful roasted layers of vegetables, this National dish of Palestine is surely one to impress. 

Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

This traditional Palestinian dish comes in many varieties, vegetarian, lamb or beef, some people add eggplant slices in place of cauliflower florets- or add both! The chicken and cauliflower makloubeh tends to be my favorite. Whether you say it “Makloubeh” “Maqloubeh” or “Ma2loubeh” (like me), this upside-down rice dish is always a winning meal.

Makloubeh, which means “upside down” in Arabic, 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 themselves 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. In the spring, you’ll find people make maqluba with fava beans, you can see it be made with lamb or even vegetarian style. There are so many variations and I’ve never met one I didn’t like!

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 it their own way, whenever we eat it, it’s like waving a big Palestinian flag. 

The best part is, most of these ingredients can be found at a traditional grocery store, but if you need help finding some of the spices, you can find them at a Middle Eastern grocery store or online.

I’m so proud of my heritage and I’m very thrilled to share this meal with you. And I want you to know that this spectacular meal doesn’t need to be reserved for special occasions. This is a great for a weekend meal, OR if you check out my tips below, you can do some of the more time consuming steps ahead of time and assemble it all on a weeknight for a quick meal. I hope you give this version a try!

Making Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

Season, sear and boil the chicken. I like to use a whole chicken cut into pieces. Pat it try with paper towels. Add all the ground spices to the chicken and mix it up well. Searing it over medium high heat skin side down in the same large pot you boil it in adds tons of depth in flavor to the final dish, so sear it till golden brown and remove to plate. Add a bit of water to scrape off the brown bits at the bottom of the pot, then add the chicken back in with enough water to cover all of it and the bay leaves. Bring this to a boil then down to a simmer until the chicken is cooked through (45 minutes or so).

Roast or fry the cauliflower. I love a good fried cauliflower sandwich. And to me, the cauliflower honestly does taste better when fried. But in the last 5 years or so, I haven’t been frying it for 2 reasons – 1. It’s obviously much better for your health to roast it on a baking sheet with a bit of olive oil vs frying in avocado or vegetable oil and the pieces stay larger which I tend to like better. Also, no need to drain off any excess oil. 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 florets for a while. But either way would work just fine! Roasting takes 30-40 minutes. 

Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

Pause here. Make yourself a pita bread and cauliflower sandwich. Mandatory. Whether fried or roasted, a cauli sandwich is a MUST.

Caramelize the onions. Slice up a medium onion, Add all the sliced onions to a large skillet with a couple Tablespoons oil and a sprinkle of salt. Let this cook down until caramelized. 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. Add all your maqluba spice along with salt and black pepper. Mix and set the rice aside.

Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

Assemble the pot. To assemble the chicken and cauliflower makloubeh, add olive oil to the pot, add some tomato slices and sliced potatoes. Then add the cooked chicken, the cauliflower, the onions, and the rice (in that order). Top it off with the broth, the broth should be about the same level of the rice. 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.

Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

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. 

Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

Flip the chicken and cauliflower makloubeh onto a tray. Place a large serving platter or tray over the top of the pot. Use oven mitts and carefully lift the pot from the bottom (holding both the bottom of the pot and the bottom of the tray. Flip in one fluid motion and reveal the beauty queen of a meal.

Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

Tips for making this chicken maklouba a weeknight meal

These are the steps that take the longest to do and make the entire meal take a long time to prepare. Doing a couple steps in advance can easily make this a weeknight meal. 

The veggies can be prepared in advance! Whether you’re roasting or frying, do it ahead of time (maybe a little extra so you can snack on them while they’re warm like I love doing). Place them in the fridge overnight till you’re ready to assemble the makloubeh.

The chicken! You can spice it, sear it and boil it. Separate the chicken from the broth then strain the chicken stock out, put it in an air tight container in the fridge and use when you’re assembling your makloubeh.

Don’t make the rice ahead of time. Rinse it well and season it just before you’re ready to cook everything up in your big pot.

What to serve with chicken maqluba

This is one of those main dishes that are just the star of the table. But, I always serve this with a simple salad, some plain yogurt or a cucumber yogurt salad like this khiyar bil laban. I also love to have some tea after a meal like this, because this is one meal that I always tend to overheat – HA! It’s honestly irresistable to me. Even when I’m putting it away in tupperwares, I always snack on a few spoonfuls. 

Although this is a time intensive meal, the steps are relatively easy! And with the tips mentioned above, you can even make it as a weeknight meal! I hope you give this a try and that it brings you as much joy as it does for us! Meals like this really bring me closer to my culture, especially when I share it with my kids, and I’m so happy to share it with you too!

Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

More Palestinian meals

Fuul Mudammas
Salata Falahiyeh
Laban Immo

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

Chicken and Cauliflower Makloubeh

A traditional Palestinian dish and one of my favorite meals!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 10 servings


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.
Keyword Ma2loubeh, Makloubeh, Palestinian Food

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  1. 5 stars
    lovvvvveeeeed this recipe. my second time making maklouba. first time using this recipe. the chicken was falling off the bone. the rice had that authentic maklouba taste. im shook that i made this!!!!!! thank you jackie!

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