One of my all-time favourite dishes is the arabic «Maklubeh». Spiced lamb on a mountain of rice and fragrant, roasted vegetables. After requests from my vegetarian friends, I decided to turn this dish into a fantastic veggie main. I must say, it’s the perfect, vegetarian dish and the answer to the million dollar question «what shall we cook for the vegetarians»?
Ingredients for the vegetables
- 1 large aubergine (about 250 grams), cut into 2 cm cubes
- 1 small cauliflower (about 800 grams), cut into small florets
- 2 medium potatoes (about 300 grams), cut into 2 cm cubes
- 2 large red onions, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2/3 cups olive oil plus 3 Tbs extra
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp cinamon
- ¼ tsp dried ginger
- ½ tsp black pepper
Ingredients for the rice
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 50 grams unsalted butter, melted
- 2-3 large tomatoes
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 6 cardamom pods, bruised
- 4 cups vegetable stock (or 1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 4 cups boiling water)
- ½ cup blanched and roasted almonds
- chopped coriander leaves
Soak the basmati rice in a bowl with plenty of cold water, for one hour.
Preheat oven to 220 C. In a large baking pan, put the aubergines, cauliflower, potatoes, onions and garlic. Drizzle with 2/3 cup olive oil and mix. In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, coriander, cinamon, ginger and black pepper. Season the vegetables with the spice mixture and salt to taste. Mix very well, using your hands, to distribute the spices. Bake vegetables for 30 minutes, stiring once. Remove vegetables for the pan into a heatproof bowl until needed.
Rince the rice until the water runs clear. Drain, put in a clean bowl and mix with the melted butter. Take a deep, non-stick skillet (26-28 cm round) and add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Swirl the pan to distribute the oil. Slice the tomatoes into 5mm slices and cover the base of the pan. Top with the baked vegetables and sprinkle with the chilli flakes. Add the rice and spread to cover the vegetables. Mix the broth with the cardamoms and the turmeric. Pour broth over the rice and cover pot with a lid. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, until rice is cooked. Take the lid off the pot and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Put back the lid and leave to rest at least 30 minutes before serving.
To serve, take the lid off the pot and cover with a serving platter. Turn over the pot carefully. If you have tomatoes stuck on the bottom of the pan, don’t stress, remove them carefully and put them on top of the dish. Sprinkle with the nuts and coriander and serve.