Recipes: Maklouba with Baharat and Tzatziki Sauce

YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo

Maklouba

Maklouba is a hearty and versatile dish from the Levant (an area that includes Jordan, Palestine, Syria and several eastern Mediterranean regions). Its name comes from the way it is served: upside down. Although Maklouba can be prepared meatless, its traditional animal protein is lamb, while long grain basmati rice stands up well to the longer cooking time. Vegetables are typically cauliflower, eggplant and potatoes, but can also include tomatoes, peppers and onions. A variety of spices are essential to the dish; most important is baharat, which can be purchased in specialty stores or you can blend your own using chef Maisa Abudayha's recipe.

INGREDIENTS

Around 4 pounds boneless lamb, cut into 6-8 pieces

2½ cups basmati or long grain rice, soaked up to 10 minutes, rinsed and drained

1 large cauliflower head, broken into florets

2 long eggplants, cut into 1/4" slices, salted lightly and left on a rack to weep excess water

2 large size Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices or cubes (Tip: keep in bowl of cold water until ready to use so they don't turn brown)

5 cups water

1 teaspoon allspice

1½ teaspoons baharat (garam masala is a close substitute); see recipe below

½ teaspoon turmeric

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon salt

½ tablespoon black pepper

Vegetable oil for frying

DIRECTIONS

Prep the rice, eggplant and cauliflower and chop the potatoes.

Put the lamb and 5 cups of water into a stock pot, cover and bring to boil on high heat, then reduce to medium.

As it boils, excess fat will rise to the surface. Skim as needed and add the spices, salt and pepper. Stir gently and let the lamb cook, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes until tender.

Add vegetable oil in a separate high-sided skillet or cast iron pan. When it is hot and shimmering, add the potatoes and fry them until light golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Repeat with cauliflower.

Wipe excess moisture off eggplant and fry, adding oil to the pan as needed.

When the lamb is cooked, remove it from the stockpot. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid.

Pat each piece of lamb gently with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Fry it briefly in the same pan as you fried the vegetables to create a sear on the exterior of the meat.

In your high-sided skillet or cast iron pan, begin layering:

For the first layer, spread roughly 15 percent of the rice (3/8 cup or around 6 tablespoons) along the bottom of the pan, followed by half of the fried vegetables and half of the lamb.

For the second layer, repeat the same amount of rice, the remaining vegetables and lamb.

The top layer is all of the remaining rice, which should be about 1 ¾ cup.

Pour the lamb broth over the layered rice mixture.

Bring heat to high and let the mixture boil, watching to see that the water is being absorbed, no more than 45 minutes.

When the water is fully absorbed, reduce to low heat and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

To serve, remove from heat and cover with a large round plate at least as large as the skillet. Carefully flip the maklouba onto the plate (like a cake). The underside of the dish should be golden brown and a little crunchy — for some, this is the best part of the dish!

Garnish with sliced almond and/or pine nuts, a side of tzatziki (recipe follows) and salad.

Baharat

INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

DIRECTIONS

Blend in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container away from direct sun or extreme temperatures.

YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo

Tzatziki Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1 cup plain regular or fat free Greek yogurt (do not substitute other types as they are not rich or thick enough for this sauce)

½ cup sour cream

½ teaspoon minced garlic

1 English cucumber, seeded and finely shredded (or standard cucumbers, peeled)

Juice of 1 lemon (3-4 tablespoons juice)

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon minced mint fresh (or less, if using dried)

DIRECTIONS

Mix all the ingredients together and chill for one hour before serving.

— Recipes courtesy of Maisa Abudayha at Feast World Kitchen.

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