Try this Iraqi-inspired maqlooba. Meaning “upside-down”, it’s a special dish combining lamb chops, aubergine, tomatoes, basmati rice and potatoes
- Serves: 6 persons
- 4-6 lamb chops
- 2-3 tsp pul biber (Turkish pepper flakes)
- 3tbsp date molasses or date syrup (see tip, below)
- 2medium aubergines, cut into 1cm slices
- 300g basmati rice
- 2tsp ground turmeric
- 1tsp baharat spice mix
- 30 ½tbsp olive oil
- 5tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2medium onions, sliced into 1cm rings
- 4medium potatoes, cut into 1cm slices
- 4-5 tomatoes (enough to cover the base of the pan), cut into 1cm slices
- lemon wedges, to serve (optional)
Step 1Put the lamb chops in a bowl. Combine 2 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, the pul biber (to taste) and 2 tbsp of the date molasses or date syrup, if using. Rub all over the lamb, cover and leave to marinate at room temperature for 1 hr. Will keep chilled overnight.
Step 2Meanwhile, soak the aubergine slices in a bowl of salted water for 20 mins. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
Step 3Heat a 23cm flameproof casserole over a medium heat. Add the rice, then pour in 700ml boiling water from the kettle. Add a pinch of salt along with 1 tsp of the turmeric, the baharat spice and ½ tsp black pepper. Cook for 3-5 mins until the rice begins to soften, then drain and set aside.
Step 4Drain and rinse the aubergine, then toss with 4 tbsp of the olive oil, a pinch of salt and 2 tbsp of the pomegranate molasses. Tip onto a baking tray and bake for 20-25 mins until tender and starting to brown. In addition, put the onions on a separate baking tray, toss with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, 2 tbsp of the pomegranate molasses and a pinch of salt, and bake for 20 mins until tender. Put the potatoes on a third baking tray and toss with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, the remaining turmeric and a pinch of salt. Bake for 20 mins until lightly golden.
Step 5Meanwhile, remove the lamb chops from the marinade and gently shake to remove any excess. Heat the remaining ½ tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry the chops for 2 mins on each side until browned but still pink in the middle.
Step 6Line the base of the casserole with a circle of baking parchment. Arrange the tomato slices, slightly overlapped, in concentric circles on the parchment, followed by the onion rings, then the lamb chops, potatoes and aubergines. Spoon the rice on top and gently flatten the surface into an even layer.
Step 7Put the casserole over a medium heat. Dissolve 1 tsp salt in 150ml water and pour it over the rice, followed by the remaining 1 tbsp date molasses and 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses. Cover and cook for 5-10 mins, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 mins until the rice is cooked through and the veg has caramelised slightly.
Step 8Remove from the heat, put a clean tea towel over the pan and cover with the lid (to prevent condensation dripping back into the rice). Leave to rest for 10 mins. Remove the lid, put a large plate over the pan and quickly invert. Tap the base and lift the pan carefully to keep the layers stacked. Peel off the baking parchment and serve with lemon wedges, if you like.