Jordanian makluba recipe
After two blogs about food and travel, this time I’m combining those topics and including a recipe. And though I don’t describe myself as a “foodie,” I do love trying local dishes on our trips and bringing back ideas to use in my own kitchen. As James Beard, the well-known chef said, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
Furthermore, having visited multiple countries and living in community in the Shelter Hostel for thirty-eight years where we’ve had guests from over 110 countries and volunteers from 30, the idea of culture fascinates me. Deborah Cater, the travel-writer wrote, “You have to taste a culture to understand it.”
We recently returned from a trip to our eastern neighbor, Jordan, where we toured Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world, Wadi Rum, an amazing nature reserve famous for its sandstone rock formations, canyons, natural arches, and sand dunes, and hiked through desert canyons flowing with hot and cold water.
In terms of the food, much is similar to Israel – hummus, felafel, shawarma, salads, and more, but a meal we ate in our guest house stands out. We first tasted makluba, meaning “upside down,” when prepared by a Jordanian guest staying at the Shelter for six months and working here soon after the peace treaty was signed. (I describe this in the chapter called “Lebanese Fugitive and Jordanian Aristocrat” in Come, Stay, Celebrate – The Story of the Shelter Hostel.) A. amazed us all as he expertly flipped over the cooking pot onto a large platter.
I’ve since learned to prepare makluba myself, and I include a scene of Tamar cooking it for her family in To Belong – A Novel. She made the vegetarian version so that’s the recipe I’ve used here, though it’s traditionally made with chicken or lamb. Makluba takes some time to prepare and assemble, and requires fiddling to release it from the pan, but if you enjoy food from around the world and want to impress your family or guests, give it a try.
If you want some tips, I’ll be glad to help, and if you do make makluba, I’d love to see a picture.
¾ c. vegetable oil, for frying
1 large eggplant, cut lengthways into 0.5cm thick slices
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 0.5cm slices
1 small cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 medium carrots, cut lengthways into 0.5cm thick slices
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1cm thick slices
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 c. short-grain rice (risotto or paella rice), washed and drained
For the liquid:
1 2/3 to 2 c. vegetable stock or water
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cardamon
1 tsp black pepper