When attempting to diet, many claim that food is bland, dry, and boring. Nonetheless, as a holistic health coach, I ensure my clients they can reach a healthy lifestyle without eating boring food, having to slurp on protein shakes, or feel hungry around the clock. Upon recently being told by a friend that “maqloobah is my favorite, and it isn’t healthy, so I’m far from that lifestyle,” I took it upon myself to elucidate my disagreement. Maqloobah is a traditional Palestinian dish, consisting of chicken, spices, fried vegetables, rice, and garnished with roasted nuts and parsley.
The key though is to flip it after cooking everything, layered, in a pot. The name maqloobah in Arabic means flipped. All who have tried my two different versions of maqloobah can attest that it tastes just as good, if not tastier than the traditional counterpart. If you really prefer the vegetables deep-fried, be sure to use organic cold-pressed avocado oil or coconut oil, although I wouldn’t recommend coconut oil as it leaves a pungent flavor in the dish. Frying in avocado oil does not destroy its remarkable health benefits, given that it has a higher smoke point than most cooking oils. I discuss this topic in-depth in my book, Sunnah Superfoods. Otherwise, brushing them well with avocado oil and roasting in the oven won’t change the taste of your dish, but it’ll definitely prevent many detrimental health consequences that could result from eating too much deep-fried food, especially if you use vegetable or corn oil. For that try this homemade recipe, and you’ll find it hard to go back to the traditional maqloobah deep-fried in genetically engineered oils.
Essentially, while some find it easier to use boneless chicken in maqloobah, the flavor of the boned chicken is far more pungent. Furthermore, the darker parts of the meat, such as the chicken thigh or leg, contains an abundance of more nutrients and essential vitamins. While chicken breast may indeed be lower in fat, it’s also lower in a myriad of vitamins. Using the chicken broth in addition to the boiling water will give an extraordinary flavor to the dish. Simply place the boned chicken pieces in your pressure cooker with spices such as cloves, allspice, bay leaves, ginger, cinnamon sticks, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. Cook on high for approximately 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Using the broth in your maqloobah adds incredible health benefits, as bone broth is remarkable for your body in many ways. It reduces digestive troubles, enhances your immune system, improves your cognitive health, has heart health benefits, and fights off sickness. All in all, maqloobah is the perfect combination of proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Top it off with parsley and roasted nuts for more benefits, and a great touch. Serve with a chopped salad and cucumber yogurt. Enjoy!
1 head cauliflower
2 large eggplants
3 medium red onions
Organic cold-pressed avocado oil (use as needed)
1-pound chicken (either boneless or boned) (cooked in pressure cooker with your favorite spices)
1 ½ cups organic basmati rice
1 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 whole cloves
5-7 cups water or homemade chicken broth
½ cup raw silvered almonds and pine nuts
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Soak the rice with about 2-3 cups of water; set aside.
Roast the silvered almonds in about 3 tablespoons of organic cold-pressed avocado oil until well-browned. Set aside.
Cut the cauliflower into large florets, and peel then slice the eggplant into 1-inch cuts. Dash salt atop the eggplant (this helps it not absorb too much oil). Peel the potatoes and slice into ¼ inch slices.
Either brush the vegetables with organic cold-pressed avocado oil and bake on 400 degrees Fahrenheit until browned and tender, or pre-heat your avocado oil and fry them (separately) until brown and crispy.
In a deep pot stir-fry the onions and two tablespoons of avocado oil until browned; add spices and stir.
Then, place layers of the potatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, chicken then rice into the pot. Add the water or broth. Cover and cook your maqloobah on high-heat and bring to a boil (approximately 10-15 minutes). Thereafter, leave on medium-low heat for about 20 more minutes or until the rice is fluffy and tender.
Give time for the maqloobah to sit in the pot; then, flip it on a flat serving platter.
Garnish with the roasted nuts and parsley. Serve immediately for optimum taste.
Enjoy with salad and cucumber mint yogurt.
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other language.