Lynda Balslev: Rice Inspiration

This dish is inspired by two rice dishes: pilaf and maqluba.

This dish is inspired by two rice dishes: pilaf and maqluba. In a pilaf, the rice is sauteed to lightly toast the grains and then steamed in a flavorful broth, along with aromatics such as onion, garlic and spices such as cumin and coriander. When ready to serve, the rice is fluffed to separate the grains and prevent stickiness. Handfuls of fresh herbs and chopped nuts, such as almonds, pine nuts or pistachios, are often added for fresh flavor and texture.

Maqluba is a Levantine upside-down specialty. It’s a layered construction of braised vegetables, such as onion, eggplant and tomato, and meat, such as lamb or chicken. A spice-infused stock and rice top it off, and the dish then slowly cooks, undisturbed, on the stovetop or in the oven. When ready, it’s inverted on a plate, revealing a crown of caramelized vegetables and roasted meat on a throne of flavorful rice. It’s a wondrous one-pot comfort food meal.