Maglouba, as it is called here in south Sinai, is a very traditional Bedouin meal that is made with rice and either meat, chicken, fish, or vegetables. Maglouba means “upside down” and is called so because the meal is prepared in a single pot that is served after being turned upside down onto a plate. In north Sinai, this dish is called madfouna, meaning “buried”. Maglouba is one of Eid’s favorite meals to prepare and one he was eager for me to explain on the blog!
So here goes…
To start with, if you will be using meat (goat meat is traditional), you should boil it for 30 to 45 minutes so that it is not tough. Chop the meat into pieces. Save the stock as you will use it later to cook the rice.
Next, you will stir fry your meat or chicken and some chopped onion in a pot with olive oil. Fry the meat and onion for 20 – 25 minutes on a slow fire, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. If you are making a vegetarian version, you should chop and stir fry your veggies with onion and olive oil.
After stir frying the meat, add a variety of chopped vegetables to the pot, using whatever is in season and on hand – potatoes, carrots, zucchini, eggplants, and tomatoes, for example. Then add whatever spices and herbs you would like to use. The three most important to this dish are salt, cardamom, and curry powder, but you can also use zatar, shih, or other local desert herbs. Stir together and heat for 5 minutes.
If you are using fish, this is the point when you would lay the fish on top of your veggie mix, without stirring so as not to break the fish apart.
Next, cover the meat and veggies with dry, uncooked rice. Traditionally, this would be Basmati rice. Gently add water (or the stock from your boiled meat) to the pot without disturbing the rice. Cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes.
When most of the water has been absorbed, lower the heat and cook for another 10 minutes on the slowest of fires until the rice is cooked.
You are now ready to turn this meal upside-down!
You will need a large serving plate, or seneeya. Take the lid off of the pot
and flip the pot quickly upside-down onto the plate.
Slowly lift and remove the pan.
Your veggies and meat are now on top of the rice
– and you are ready to enjoy your maglouba!
[Photos by Eid and Gunnar, Kite Surfing Bedouin Camp, Summer 2010]