This elaborate dish “Vegan Maqlooba” is served with a variety of veggies on top of upside-down rice. Both vegetarians and vegans can eat it. Moreover, it is naturally gluten-free.

What is Maqlooba?

The Middle Eastern dish maqlooba, which means “upside-down,” is a multilayer rice dish that originated in Palestine but is now popular throughout the region. It is most frequently eaten in the Levant. Maqluba is also occasionally spelled maqloubeh,  maqlouba, maqlooba, and maklouba.

It is often made by layering meat, fried veggies, and rice in a pot, and then serving it upside down. This is the origin of the name Maqluba, which means “upside-down.”

Chicken or lamb is the traditional protein in this dish (also called Maqloubeh), but I’ve had lots of requests for a vegetarian version, so here it is! Or, to be exact, a vegan maqlubah.

To make up for the lack of meat, tomatoes, aubergine, and other traditional Middle Eastern vegetables are included in this rice dish. Other widely used ingredients include potatoes and cauliflower.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe?

You’ll never want plain rice again after trying this flavorful and vegetable-packed dish.

  • This vegan maqlooba has a more extravagant look than the standard, meat-based version, but it’s actually much simpler to prepare.
  • The amount of salt, fat, and oil has been cut down, but the food still tastes great.
  • It is gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
  • It’s highly customizable and can be modified to suit whatever tastes you have at the moment by adding or omitting vegetables and spices.
  • You may make it in advance, take it to the office, or store it in the fridge so that it’s ready to eat on a day when you don’t have much time to cook.
  • It can be taken with you when you go on picnics.
  • It is delicious served hot or at room temperature.
Maqlooba ingredients

Ingredients I Used

  • Long grain rice – The best rice is basmati or long grain. They work well in this upside-down rice dish and are quicker cooking varieties of rice.
  • Eggplant / Aubergine – Although long purple aubergine (Chinese/Japanese) is typically used to make, you are welcome to use any aubergine kind that you have access to.
  • Potatoes – You can use any variety of potatoes. Depending on the kind of potato you use, the cooking time may change.
  • Onion – The flavor of onion is slightly sweet but savory. Simply finely slice them and you’re ready to go.
  • Bell Pepper / Capsicum – This recipe works with capsicum of any color. Utilize the large-sized variety. They can be sliced horizontally as well as vertically.
  • Cauliflower – I added cauliflower to this veg maqlooba recipe to increase the nutritional benefits. The outcome was creamy and tasty.
  • Tomato paste – It is used to add color, texture, and body.
  • Salt – I use Himalayan pink salt but any natural salt is great.
  • Turmeric – It gives a hearty flavor and that distinctive yellow color.
  • Chili flakes – Red chili flakes are perfect for adding desired heat to the dish!
  • Cayenne pepper – It imparts a more neutral “peppery” flavor to the dish.
  • Curry powder – This ingredient imparts the yellow hue to this recipe. Invest in some top-notch yellow curry powder. I prefer the one made by Simply Organic.
  • Avocado oil – I have used avocado oil. If you do not have avocado oil, you may use vegetable oil, olive oil, or butter.

How To Make Veg Maqlooba?

  1. Slice all the veggies, and toast them in a frying pan with some oil.
  2. In a separate pan, add some oil and tomato paste.
  3. Fry the tomato paste, and spices.
  4. Add some water and layer all the veggies.
  5. Add soaked rice over the layered veggies.
  6. Add enough water for the rice to cook.
  7. Once done, flip the pan on a plate so all the layered veggies come on top.
  8. This veggie maqlooba is a crowd-pleaser and a perfect dinner treat!!

What To Serve With Vegan Maqlooba?

Maklooba is ideally served with a fresh salad, such as Asian Cucumber Salad

 or Vegan Spinach Salad, or a Healthy Pipino Salad (Cucumber Salad), and pickles.

Tips For Making

  • If you want to make sure the pot comes out easily when you flip it upside down, grease it and use a round piece of parchment paper.
  • Use a pot with a heavy bottom and low-set handles. So that a plate can sit flat against the surface of the pot during flipping, and the handles won’t get in the way.
  • Remain calm when flipping! Before attempting, ensure you have a firm grasp on the handles of the plate and pot. Flip over quickly and carefully, and set it down gently.
  • You should hear your dish’s contents fall onto the plate once you’ve flipped it. Knock on the pot’s bottom to loosen it if it doesn’t.
  • I cook on a gas stove; cooking times on an electric stove may vary significantly.
  • When chopping veggies, try to keep the thickness of your cuts to a uniform 1cm (about 1/2 inch).
  • Cut your vegetables either lengthwise or across, depending on how you want to show them.
  • Additional vegetables may be added if desired. However, if you want your vegetable maqlooba to have a strong flavor, you might need to adjust the salt.

Optional Add-Ins

  • Other veggies: Other vegetables that could be utilized include spinach, chickpeas, carrots, and peppers.
  • You might add some chili powder, paste, or thinly sliced chilies for heat.
  • Aromatics: In order to provide a pleasant aroma to the rice, you can include minced garlic or garlic paste, as well as a bay leaf, in the early cooking process. Try experimenting with various spices, such as allspice or green cardamom.
  • Lentils and raisins are further optional additions to the recipe.

How To Make Ahead And Store?

Make Ahead: There are various ways to reduce prep time for this dish by preparing ingredients ahead of time. For instance, you might toast the vegetable ahead of time and store it, covered, for up to 2 days in the fridge. The onion mixture can also be prepared 2-3 days ahead of time and kept covered in the refrigerator.

The entire dish can also be made a day ahead of time. Before heating the dish in the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes, add 2-3 tablespoons of water or stock.

Refrigerator: For 2-3 days, cover any remaining vegetable maqlooba and preserve it there.

Freeze:  Freeze for up to a month by letting it cool, then transferring it to a freezer-safe container. Before reheating, allow it to defrost in the refrigerator.

Reheat: Reheat the vegetable maqlooba on the stovetop or in the microwave with a splash of water to soften the rice again. After freezing, the vegetables will get softer, but the flavor will not change.

Other Recipes You May Like:

vegan Maqlooba recipe overlay on a white plate

Frequently Asked Questions

What Size Pot Should I Use For Maqlooba?

There is no strict guideline for choosing a pot; however, it should match the contents. However, a shorter, wider pot is better since it reduces the risk of the maqlooba toppling over when it is turned.  If you want to serve a certain number of people, you should use a different-sized pot.

What Type Of Pot Shall I Use To Make Maqlooba?

A nonstick pot that is not too tall is ideal for Maqlooba. Before adding the ingredients, lightly oil the saucepan to make sure nothing sticks.

Can I Air Fry My Vegetables For Maqlooba?

Absolutely! To air-fry veggies, just follow your air fryer’s instructions until they are golden brown. The vegetable’s level of golden color is up to you. Then layer them according to the maqlooba recipe directions.

How To Flip Maqlooba?

I typically position my hands where I am most comfortable and where the plate and pot have the most grip. Then I quickly flip once. Avoid hesitation because doing so will cause the pot to tremble. If you lack confidence, delegate the task to someone else. After being turned over, let the pot in place for 10 minutes before removing it.

Why Maqlooba Rice Are Undercooked?

If the rice and water ratios are not balanced, the rice will be either undercooked or overcooked. Rice requires less water to cook if it is uncooked. Ensure that the rice is thoroughly soaked before cooking it, and use 1.5 cups of water for one cup of dried rice for the ideal result.

Why Maqlooba Rice Get Mushy?

A rice and water imbalance is a result of this as well. Here, there is enough stock to fully cook the rice. It’s important to control the temperature when cooking the rice. When rice is first cooked at a high temperature, the grain expands quickly. When the rice is 60% cooked, reduce the heat so that steam is produced and the remaining rice can finish cooking.

Other Related Vegan Recipes

  1. Jollof Rice
  2. Jamaican Rice And Peas
  3. Turmeric Coconut Rice
  4. Jamaican Pigeon Peas And Rice
  5. Turmeric Potato Rice
Maqlooba recipe on black plate

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Nutrition

(Per serving)
  • Energy: 209 kcal / 874 kJ
  • Fat: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 4.7 g
  • Carbs: 46.2 g

Cook Time

  • For: 8 Servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan with a lid over medium-high, add eggplant slices, and saute until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and remove excess oil with a paper towel.
  2. Saute, potato slices, cauliflower florets, onion, and bell pepper.
  3. Add tomato paste, turmeric, curry powder, chili, cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add 1/2 cup water to deglaze the saucepan.
  4. Layer eggplant, potato slices, cauliflower, onion, and bell pepper on top.
  5. Add the rice and press down firmly over the vegetables.
  6. Add remaining water and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and reduce the heat on low flame and cook for 50 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  7. .Remove from heat and keep covered for about 10 minutes.
  8. Fluff with a fork, stir in cilantro leaves and a squeeze of lime juice.
  9. To serve, invert a large platter with raised edges and place it on top of the saucepan. With the use of both hands, flip the saucepan over. Slowly remove the saucepan and release the rice with the veggies on top.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.