Maklouba (Vegetable Upside-Down Dish)
-Cut the eggplants into rounds. Season with salt and allow standing for an hour. Then rinse and lightly press to get rid of the water.
-In a frying pan, fry cauliflower in oil until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with eggplant rounds.
-Drain the rice. In a large bowl, combine the rice and the spices, mixing well. Season with salt to taste.
-Coat the bottom of a round pot with oil. Arrange half of the fried onion rings and half of the eggplant rounds on the bottom of the pot.
-Add one third of the rice mixture. Add a layer of the fried cauliflower, then another third of the rice mixture on top. Arrange the rest of the onion rings and eggplant rounds on top of this.
-For the final layer, add the last third of the rice mixture on top of the onion rings and eggplant. Press slightly. Prick in several places with a wooden skewer. Pour the stock over this.
-Cover the pot and cook over medium-high heat until it starts boiling.
-Reduce heat and let cook for 30 minutes, or until done.
-Remove the pot from the heat and let rest for about 10 minutes. Place a large serving plate on top of the pot and flip it over. Very carefully, lift the pot off the plate to reveal the layered dish. Garnish with roasted nuts and parsley.
-The spice mixture* consists of equal parts ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground cardamom, and ground nutmeg.
-Cooked meat or pieces of fried chicken can be added between the layers to increase the nutritious value of the dish.
-There are other recipes for Maklouba, such as seafood Maklouba. The main idea of this dish is layering the vegetables with rice in a pot, then turning it upside down when ready to serve.
2 Italian eggplants
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tsp. spice mixture* (see Chef?s notes)
3 cups Egyptian rice, soaked for about 30 minutes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large onions, sliced into rings
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Oil for frying
Nuts (cashew and pine nuts), roasted
Parsley, for garnish