It's the final Ramadan post! And what a challenge posting a new recipe every single - day for 29 days - has been!
Ma'loubeh is Arabic for "upside-down" and we're going to end this month with upside-down rice because that's how I feel today, a little like my world may be returning to normal and flipping itself back to normal.
Ma'loubeh is traditionally made with meat and then sometimes with aubergine or cauliflower. The basic instructions are you layer the base of a rice pan with meat (obviously not in this case) aubergine or cauliflower and scatter uncooked rice among the layers until the pan is full. Pour in the stock laden with plenty of spices and cook the rice until soft and all liquids have not only evaporated but formed a crispy layer so that when you flip the pan upside down on to a dish (a skill in itself) it all stays in form with this lovely crispy rice layer on the top.
In this recipe everything is the same just without the meat. I've used aubergine only in this recipe but add in some fried cauliflower for an even tastier dish.
MA'LOUBEH: UPSIDE-DOWN RICE
PREP TIME 25 MINS | COOK TIME 60 MINS | TOTAL 1 HR 15 MINS
max 1/2 cup oil (depending on how sponge-like the aubergines are!)
2 medium aubergines (eggplant)
2 cups brown rice
1 liter vegetable stock
1-2 tbsp salt
1 tsp each: coriander, ginger, Allspice, pepper
1/2 tsp each: cumin, turmeric, cinnamon
salt to taste (taste your stock before adding spices to see how salty it is)
handful slivered almonds (toasted)
Slice the Aubergines in to desired thickness (not too thin) and salt them in a colander for 20 minutes (tossing them around every now and again).
While you're waiting wash the rice and set aside.
Rinse the aubergine slices well and heat 3tbsp oil in a large bottomed pan. Fry the aubergine in batches not overcrowding the pan too much. You want a nice golden colour. Leave the cooked aubergine on kitchen towel until all are cooked.
Make 1 liter of vegetable stock and add all the spices. Mix well and set aside.
Take a saucepan (you're looking for a pan that will be able to lie flat on or flush with a serving plate at the end to turn upside-down) Grease the rice sauce pan with 2 tbsp oil and layer all the aubergine on to the bottom and sides of the pan.
Add the rice to the pan making sure it's all even.
Give the stock a really good stir and then carefully ladle the stock in to the pan without disturbing the rice too much.
Cover with a lid and cook at a med/low simmer for 45 minutes (or go with the rice package instructions). You want the rice to be cooked through and for all the liquids to have evapourated. Cook for a few minutes more (this is where the crisping of the rice happens).
Leave the rice pan with the lid on for at least 10 minutes before attempting to serve.
Here comes the skill. Your serving plate needs to be wider than the saucepan (for any collapse scenarios). Take the lid off the pan and replace with the plate, grab a friend to be there for any assistance. Put your thumbs on the base of the plate and your fingers on the pan handles (use oven gloves or T-Towels!) and get ready for a confident flip keeping the pan and plate connected at all times.
Place the plate down on and tap all sides of the saucepan to encourage everything to un-stick. Now comes the big reveal! Carefully lift up the saucepan and marvel at your creation (if some bits haven't come off we just scrape them out and either put them back on or put them on a side dish (lots of people love the crispy bits!).
Sprinkle over the toasted almonds and garnish if you're feeling fancy!