March 22, 2010

A Flower in a Hot Pot...

If you are new to my blog, please read my Welcome Note first.

Today's recipe is a Palestinian one, called Makloubeh. Makloubeh is basically a rice and vegetable mould. I said it's a Palestinian one, which means -- avoid sharing it with any Israeli, because in no time they will appropriate it too and turn it into a Jewish dish...As if there's something called a Jewish dish...but let's leave aside politics for  now...before my appetite and my cooking skills get spoiled at the mention of this despicable entity called the Jewish State.

Makloubeh can be prepared with aubergines/eggplants or cauliflower or both...I will be giving you the cauliflower version...

Cauliflower in Arabic is Qirnabeet in Iraqi, or Irnabeet as Ze oh la la Lebanese call it, they don't like pronouncing the Q, the Palestinians call it Zahra.

Zahra also means a flower...

For 2 persons you will need (more or less)

1 large onion chopped
1-2 tbs of cooking oil
250 grs of lamb or beef cubed (I prefer beef)
salt and pepper
1 small to medium cauliflower
1 tsp all spice
1 tsp powder cinnamon
1/4 cup of pine seeds (optional)
1 to 1.1/2 cup of rice (NOT PARABOILED - opt for long grain- WASHED and soaked in cold water)
1 medium sized saucepan

Now to work :

Fry chopped onion in oil until soft
add meat cubes until brown all over
cover with water (enough for the meat to cook - I also add 1-2 dried bay leaves that I remove later)
add your all spice and pepper (do not add salt because salt turns the meat HARD)
let it cook for about 1/2 hour to 1 hour depending on the meat you use, meat must be tender
separate the cauliflower into florets and fry them separately until golden
by now your meat is cooked
add your fried cauliflower, laying it on top of the meat
add your washed strained rice sprinkled with cinnamon and salt on top of cauliflower
add about 1 to 1.1/2 cups of boiling water
let is boil ONCE
then turn down the heat to a MINIMUM until all the liquid is absorbed.

now when you serve it it should come out as a mould. You need to grab that saucepan, place it on a cold cloth first, so you can get the mould intact. Place your serving plate on top of the saucepan, hold firmly and then flip it upside down - the Makloubeh should come out as a mould - if it does not, it's ok and it's not the end of the's still as tasty...

I decorate the plate with pine nuts that I quickly roast in a small frying pan and then sprinkle them over the Makloubeh...

And while you're preparing this wonderful Palestinian dish, what can be better than listening to a Palestine Dabkeh - folk song. Again don't share this one with the Israelis - they steal everything...