Nasi Arab (Makloubeh Rice)


We are into our second week of Hari Raya Idul Fitri and I am less busy now. Most of my close relatives have visited my home last weekend. Me and hubby hosted big crowds for three consecutive days. It may seem nothing for a veteran but for a young family, we are still learning the ropes of hosting.

Makloubeh Rice up close

Makloubeh Rice up-close. Turned upside down when serving. The chicken meat are on top folllowed by the potatoes, eggplant and rice.

I cooked quite a bit since last weekend. But I am happy to receive a lot of guests at my home because it gives me an excuse to cook a variety of dishes. So instead of serving the common dishes of Hari Raya and also partly because we ran out of food after a big crowd on the second day. I decided to whip up Nasi Arab or Makloubeh Rice which I had tried before.

So Makloubeh rice it was, with accompanying fried cubed potatoes, Sambal Goreng and Vegetable Curry I forgot to serve the Papadoms..tsk..tsk..tsk. The Makloubeh rice is already moist with gravy and actually do not require the extra curry but I made just in case.

I am to turn over the pot of Makloubeh rice when serving because it is cooked by layering and you will want to serve with the chicken on top of the rice, you see what I mean later. But in order to not do anything out of the ordinary, I decided to just scoop out the rice and chicken instead. I would have loved to see my guests reaction had I turn over the pot 🙂

Below are the ingredients you need for the Makloubeh Rice. The original recipe requires you to fry the the potatoes and eggplant but I suggest you don’t. Because the potatoes and eggplant will cook just the same, in the cooking rice. Instead, slice the potatoes to about 7 mm thin and the eggplant will be cooked even if you sliced it more than 1 cm thick. So you are reducing the oil used and it’s much healthier compared to the usual briyani dish.

Makes: Servings for 4 persons

Preparation time: 4 hours to marinate + 30 minutes for other ingredients

Cooking Time: At most 30 minutes

  • 10 pieces of chicken meat (I cut one large chicken and only used the meaty pieces, those boney ones you can use later to make chicken stock)
  • 1 teaspoon of Coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon of Chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of oil (you can use any cooking oil but I have used olive oil or sunflower oil)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Mix all of the above ingredients and rub into the chicken meat and set aside to marinate. Marinate this for at least a couple of hours in a closed lid container kept in the fridge NOT the freezer. I marinated mine at least for 4 hours.

  • 2 cups of Basmati rice

Wash the Basmati rice till the water is clear and soaked for at least 45 minutes before cooking.

  • 3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced to about 7mm
  • 1-2 medium eggplant, sliced
  • 4 cups of chicken stock (you can use 1 Knorr chicken cube dissolved in water) and add 1 teaspoon of Salt

For your info, cooking Basmati rice in a closed lid pot requires a proportion of 1 cup of Basmati rice to 2 cups of water. Or you can follow the directions on the package of the Basmati rice you bought.

Method:

Nasi Arab or Makloubeh Rice

Clockwise from top-left: Cooking Makloubeh Rice.

  1. Use a pot, deep enough to hold all the above ingredients, and with a lid that has an outlet to let steam out.
  2. Heat about 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil in the pot. Make sure the oil cover the base of the pot. Add in the marinated chicken meat piece by piece covering the base of the pot and have some part of the meat touching the oil. This is your first layer. Put the flame to low so that you do not burn the meat while adding the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Next add in the potato slices, cover the pieces of chicken until you have used up all the potatoes.
  4. Next, place the eggplant slices on top of potatoes, covering all the potatoes.
  5. Then, add in the drained Basmati rice on top of the eggplant and spread it out covering the eggplant and leveling it.
  6. Lastly, add the 4 cups of chicken stock into the pot slowly. The stock will cover the rice and you will see some spices floating to the top which is fine.
  7. Turn the heat back up to medium and close the lid while it cook. We are cooking by absorption method where the liquid will be absorbed by the rice.
  8. While it is cooking, you can see the steam coming out, it indicates that there are still liquid and the rice is not fully cooked yet.

Basmati rice do not take long to cook, it takes about 12-15 minutes to cook after it has been soaked.

Tips:

  • While the rice is cooking, you can see a lot of steam coming out of the lid’s outlet.
  • Do not often lift the lid for the first ten minutes as you will release too much steam and the rice will not be nicely cooked.
  • When you see there are less steam, reduce the flame to low so as not to burn the chicken meat at the base.
  • Also check the rice on the topmost layer if it is cooked. If it is, listen to the pot and see if you can hear any bubbling sound of water at the bottom of the pot. If there are, then let it cook for a couple of minutes more.
  • Remember the rice will be cooked within 15 minutes thus normally if I am unsure, I will stand by the pot during the last few minutes and once I detected a slight whiff of burning meat. I removed the pot from heat. It’s cooked.
  • To serve, I will place a big flat plate on top of the pot. Hold it firmly and turn the pot over. The rice will settle nicely on the plate and if you are lucky the chicken will not stick to the bottom of the pot and your rice will not crumble. But even it does, who cares, it taste great anyway. Just scrape the chicken pieces off the bottom of the pot and place it on top of the rice and serve. Best eaten hot or at least warm.
  • You can add side dishes like fried potatoes, papadoms or vegetable curry to go along with the Makloubeh Rice.

Hope you can give it a try. You won’t regret it. The aroma that fills your kitchen when the rice is cooking is so inviting. You can hardly go wrong with this dish and even the picky eaters in my family loved it 🙂

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