An easier, vegan method of making a Maqluba (an ‘upside down’ one pot savoury cake if you like) which if made properly takes around a fortnight to prepare. I, like many of you, have not got a lot of time in the kitchen. I work in a kitchen so days off are spent trying to stop myself thinking about food, new recipes etc. This is a difficult task and if Im in the house, the kitchen calls! This also leads to me eating far too much. It’s complicated!!!
This savoury cake is real festival food, real party time on a plate. The flavours are an awesome mix and as a centre piece on a table would grace any banquet; vegan, vegetarian or other. It just looks so very cool, all those layers and roasted sweet veggies.
I like to streamline things, I love the idea of food heritage and recipes being handed down through generations. The providence of dishes are essential to maintain their relevance to a culture, food expresses who and where we are in the world. We are proud of it and rightly so, all cultures have explored their local produce and experimented to the point of culinary excellence and deliciousness. Even in Britain, we are pretty handy with potatoes and leeks.
I have to say that one person who most excites me in the modern food game is Mr Yotam Ottenleghi. He is responsible for a wave of beautiful books/dishes and is changing our perceptions towards the foods of the Southern Med/ Middle East. I have always loved food from this area and surround but Yotam has taken my understanding of it to another level.
It’s fruity and spicy, nutty and floral, very sweet and very sour, all avenues of flavour are explored and utilised in the cuisine, its also screams out with gorgeous colour. It’s such a fertile area, great produce abounds at the markets. Historically, the cultures are old, real old. You feel that in the food tradition, where feasts are prepared and savoured. The romance of food is alive in the rituals of preparation and the coming together of family and friends in the kitchen and around the dining table.
This take on Maqluba is one such dish. Having said that, it is historically a dish that is quick and easy for mothers to get together, we certainly have less time on our hands in Westernised countries than others. What a shame! I can think of nothing more rewarding than preparing a dish with love and attention throughout the day for my loved ones.
Sometimes I wish we could cut the internet to the Beach House. This would certainly free up some time, but then the Beach House Kitchen would disappear and I enjoy this blogging game far too much for that, meeting all of you wonderful folk from around the world is a real pleasure. You inspire me! It’s a modern conundrum indeed!
So I’ve taken the best bits about this traditional dish and had a play with them, it still makes something quite spectacular and I don’t think you lose much flavour by cooking the rice seperately. I have incorporated all the ingredients at the end and given them a quick steam with rose water which brings things together nicely in a floral fashion.
Depending on your taste and dietary persuasion, you may like to substitute the brown rice for good basmati rice. This does absorb greater flavour and is a little more tender.
The frying pan you use should not be too deep, the more shallow the pan, the easier it will be to turn out the final cake. It looks a million dollars this dish when you get it right.
The Bits – For 4
2 large tomatoes (1cm slices)
1 large aubergine (width ways – 1cm slices)
1 red pepper (cut into thin slices)
1/2 small cauliflower (cut into small florets)
1 large leek (finely sliced)
1/2 teas cinnamon
1/3 teas ground cardamom
1 teas turmeric
1/4 teas all spice
1 1/2 teas baharat (spice mix or just up the other spices)
1/4 teas black pepper
2 teas lemon zest
250ml creamy soya yoghurt (unsweetened)
1-2 teas rose water
1 big handful crushed toasted almonds/ almond flakes
1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice (or other long grain)
2 3/4 cups good veg stock
2 bay leaves
1 handful dried cherries (or sultanas/ dried apricot)
1/2 teas turmeric
1 red onion (finely sliced)
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 tbs olive oil (for frying)
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
Crushed toasted almonds/ flaked almonds
Soya yoghurt and cucumber (mix together with a little lemon juice and salt and pepper)
Sour cherries (or sulatanas/ dried apricot)
Soak rice in salted water for 30 mins to 1 hour before cooking,
In a saucepan, begin by frying off onions gently until golden in 2 tbs oil for 1o-15 minutes. Add your garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and turmeric, stir through and heat for a minute, then add your rice and coat well, leave to warm through for 1 minute and then add 2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock (save a little). Bring to a boil and cover tightly, lower heat to minimum and cook for 35-40 minutes.
In a large frying pan, saute your vegetables in batches using as much oil as you like. Cook them until soft and slightly caramelised. Have a warm plate with cover ready. Start with peppers, aubergine and then tomato. They will all take differing times, tomatoes only take a minute each side. You’re looking for some charred edges, but not completely cooked, a higher heat will achieve this. So its burnt, but not that burnt, what a great rule!
Pour boiling water (from the kettle) over the cauliflower florets and leave for 10 minutes.
Lastly fry the leeks until soft and golden, then add cauliflower and all spices and heat for a minute, then take off the heat and stir in the soya yoghurt and lemon zest. Cover and set aside (you’ll need another warm plate here).
Now we’re ready to layer. Clean and wipe out your frying pan, begin by scattering in a generous amount of almonds, then place the tomatoes over the base. Leave spaces between them, this is going to be the top of the cake, so make it nice! Then add your aubergine and then pepper, then spoon on your leek mix on top of that, spread evenly. Now fluff your rice and spread evenly over the top, press down gently to get it all nicely packed in. Now get the pan warm again, and pour over 1/4 cup of stock and the rose water, cover with a suitably sized lid or plate and warm gently on the hob for 10 minutes to get all the flavours mingling.
Leave to rest for 5 minutes and then place your hand on the plate and invert the pan in one smooth motion (easier said than done). A swift action is needed here so think it through! Place down on a work surface and tap the bottom of the pan with the base of a wooden spoon, rolling pin…….something hefty. I leave it for a few minutes to sort itself out and settle.
When ready to serve, take off pan and you will have a lovely looking layer rice cake awaiting. Maqluba!
Warm with scattered dried sour cherries and more almonds Extra yoghurt, salads, pickles…….YUM!
We Love It!
We sure do! This is a feast, a one pot wonder, sure beats a hot pot! The flavours here are quite incredible and this is something very special. A special occasion treat and the rose water adds a unique flavour to the Maqluba.
Rose water is used widely the cuisine of the southern Mediterranean and Iran and all the way to India, it is a magical ingredient and must be used sparingly, especially in a savoury dish. A little goes a long way.
Rose water is very simple to make, distill rose petal and there you have it! It is used in cosmetics also, but I prefer putting it in desserts! What a waste of good rose water!
In India they use rose water to clear irritations of the eye, so its versatile too!