This dish is another one of my mother’s little miracles. It’s not too complicated to make but you have to get the flavors just right, and that means accepting how much fat goes into making it.
You start by searing the lambshanks in cooking oil, then boiling them with all the goodnesses. You deep fry aubergine. You use the lambshank drippings to fry and onion and minced meat. You add the cooked mince to rice.
Ma2loubeh means turned upside down, so the way this goes is, you debone the shanks, and place the meat at the bottom of a large pot. You add the rice and mince. You cover it with the boiling water from the shanks. Add the fried aubergines, and cook as you would normal rice.
“Try not to think about your cholesterol levels when making and eating this dish.”
In the meantime, deep fry some pine nuts, almonds, pistachios and cashew nuts. Golden not brown.
When 95% of the water has evaporated get the strongest person in the house to flip it onto a serving dish. Sprinkle it with the nuts. Serve with yogurt.
These quantities are for a tray sized 38 x 26 cm.
- 3-4 small Lamb Shanks
- 1 small onion cut in half, laurel leaves, chunks of carrots, cinnamon stick for the boiling water
- Frying oil, preferably sunflower
- 1.5 cups of rice
- 400 g of Minced Beef
- 1 Yellow Onion
- Pine nuts
- Salt, Black Pepper, White Pepper, Nutmeg, Coriander Powder
- 1Kg of Eggplants, the smaller the better.
For the Garnishing
- Pine Nuts
- Skinless almonds
- Unsalted Cashew nuts
- 3 Tablespoons of sunflower oil
For the Ma2loube
- Wash & soak the rice at the beginning of this process. This will remove some of the starch from the rice and make it less sticky, as well as prevent it from increasing in volume when cooked (I have had rice overflow while making this dish before). I use Uncle Ben’s long rain white rice.
- Wash and half peel the eggplants so that they become striped lengthwise. Slice them into 3 cm chunks and soak them in salted water for an hour. Remove and pat dry.
- Brine the lamb shanks in water and salt for about an hour for the blood to come out. Then discard the water, pat the shanks dry, and sprinkle them with salt and ground black pepper.
- Brown them in a pan with a little bit of sunflower oil. Don’t wash the pan. You will use it later.
- Then boil the lamb shanks with Laurel leaves, a cinnamon stick, an onion, a carrot, some salt and nutmeg. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat. This process is a couple hours long. In fact the longer they cook the better.
- Chop the onion and fry it in the pan you used for the shanks. When the onion has started to color add the minced beef. Add salt, black and white pepper, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Cook till all the water from the meat has evaporated. Stirring occasionally. When cooked. Turn off the heat, and mix into the drained rice.
- At the same time, deep fry the eggplants in sunflower oil, then place them on a kitchen towel to soak up the extra oil.
- Once the lamb shanks have cooked (you can tell they’re done when the meat practically falls of the bone when you try to remove it with a fork. Debone the shanks, and place them at the bottom of the largest pot you have.
- Add the rice and minced beef. Top it off with the boiling water from the shanks. A little less than 2 cups of boiling water per cup of rice. Then add the fried eggplants. Cook this dish as you would rice. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot and take it down to a simmer, wait until 95% of the water had evaporated, turn of the fire, keep the lid on for a few more minutes.
- Grab a flat serving dish that is larger than the diameter of the pot. Place it on the pot. Hold the 2 handles and the dish, and rotate the whole thing 180 degrees. Place it on a counter, then slowly lift the pot to let its content out.
For the Garnishing
- In separate pans, or one after the other, add a tablespoon of frying oil, then fry each of the nuts on its own, until they are light gold. Remove them and place them on a kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Then mix them all together, add a bit of salt and garnish the dish as in the picture.
Palestinian version: A couple of things differ between my mom’s recipe and the traditional Palestinian recipe. (1) When putting everything together layer some sliced tomatoes at the bottom of the pot, then sprinkle with some rice, then add the lamb shanks. (2) Add cinnamon to the rice mix (3) Make 2 layers starting with meat, then rice, then aubergine, finishing with a layer of rice.
Tips: I eat my Ma2loube with some greek yogurt on the side.