1 Small head of cauliflower, Cut into small bite-size florets
1 Medium eggplant, Sliced into rounds
1 Tomato, Sliced into rounds
1 Large onion, Thinly sliced
1 Whole chicken Cut up into 6-8 pieces or about 3 ½ pounds bone-in chicken pieces (You can also use chicken tighs)
1 tbsp Ziyad Brand Seven Spice
2 tsp Salt and black pepper
⅓ cup Canola or vegetable oil: About an inch for frying the vegetables plus more for the nuts
Wash the rice a few times until the water runs clear. Drain it and discard the water. Toss the rice with the spices and set aside. To prep the vegetables: in a non-stick heavy pot, heat 1 inch of neutral oil over medium-high heat until simmering hot, then fry the vegetables separately and in batches until browned.
Start with the cauliflower florets, fry about 7 minutes per batch. Drain on a paper towel then fry the eggplant in one layer until browned, about 4 minutes per batch.
Drain on a paper towel. (If the eggplant is too oily, press on it with paper towels to absorb the excess oil). Pour out the excess oil, keeping about 3 tablespoons in the pot.
Set all the vegetables aside.
In the same pot , season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown on both sides. About 5-7 minutes per side. Take out the chicken and add the onions. Sauté until translu-cent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pot. Remove all excess oil. Make sure you have no more than a tablespoon of oil at the bottom of the pot.
In the same pot, we are going to start layering to create the makloubeh signature look. First, arrange the tomatoes, add chicken pieces skin side down and vegetables. Add onions. Add the seasoned rice. Cover with water about 1⁄2 an inch over the rice. Let it come to a boil. Lower heat to simmer. Cover the pot. Let it cook on low until rice is fluffy and chicken is cooked through and the water is fully absorbed. About 45-60 minutes. Don’t flip the pot just yet. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes so it holds its shape. Invert the pot into a serving platter slightly bigger than the pot.
Place a very large serving dish (slightly larger than the pot) on top of the pot, then, protecting your hands, invert the pot onto the dish in one smooth motion. Gently and carefully lift off the pot. Be careful, it’s still hot. Garnish with toasted nuts. Enjoy with a simple salad or plain yogurt.