Cauliflower and Chicken Makloubeh

Mike Robinson prepares a delicious one-pot dish of chicken with spices, rice and cauliflower for the perfect family meal
By Mike Robinson
Cauliflower and Chicken Makloubeh
  • Rating:
  • Cook Time: 1.5 hours 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: including 1 hr soaking time
  • Effort: medium


For the makloubeh

  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large chicken, cleaned, dried and jointed into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 onion, peeled
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 whole cardamom pods
  • 2.5 tsp salt
  • 2.3 litres boiling water
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter, (ghee)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp saffron, (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 350 g basmati rice
  • 75 g pine kernels, lightly toasted, to garnish

For the cucumber and yogurt salad

  • 2 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 275 ml plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp chopped mint, to garnish


1. Soak the cauliflower in 1.2 litres of cold salty water for at least 1 hour.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the chicken pieces until golden on both sides.

3. Add the onion, peppercorns, cardamom pods, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the boiling water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat then cover with a lid and simmer for 40-50 minutes, checking regularly to make sure the mixture doesn't dry out.

4. When the chicken pieces are tender, remove from the pan and reserve the stock.

5. Meanwhile, drain the cauliflower pieces and pat dry on absorbent paper. Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer to 190C and fry the cauliflower until golden (this may also be done, in batches, in a frying pan). Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

6. In a small frying pan, warm the ghee or clarified butter. Add the garlic, cook until softened and remove with a slotted spoon.

7. Lay the chicken pieces on the base of a large ovenproof saucepan and arrange the fried cauliflower around the edges, leaving a gap in the middle. Add the fried garlic and ghee.

8. Add the remaining salt, pepper, saffron (if using), ground cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and cumin.

9. Pour in the reserved stock, place the pan on a medium heat and bring to the boil.

10. Soak the rice in 1.1 litres boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and repeat.

11. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Spoon the rice into the empty gap and then cover the cauliflower completely with the rest.

12. Pour over enough stock to completely cover the rice. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes, until some of the stock is absorbed.

13. Cover the pan with a lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until the rice is tender.

14. To make the salad, mix the chopped cucumber, yogurt, salt and garlic together. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until needed. Just before serving, scatter the mint over.

15. Remove the Makloubeh from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes.

16. Place a large serving plate over the top of the pan and turn the whole lot over. The contents of the pan should come out in one piece onto the serving dish. Scatter with pine nuts.

17. Serve the Makloubeh straight away with the cucumber and yogurt salad.

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