The taste of failure

Still on my cooking kick, trying out new recipes, usually healthy-ish….

Today, to prepare for Ramadan, I tried to make something Arabic to impress the husband. It’s actually one of MY favorite things, not so much his…..but I’m pretty sure he likes it.

Maklube, or Maklouba, according to this recipe I found on Pinterest. There are a LOT of ways to make this dish. some with meat, some without. My favorite is with eggplant… It’s a layered dish, with your rice dividing layers of meat/veggies, whatever you put in it.

There is a degree of technical difficulty, as you have to flip the whole thing over onto a plate and end up with a beautiful stack of yummy layers.Garnish with nuts/parsley and I like to eat it with yogurt as well.

That’s pretty much all the information you can trust me for on this one, as I failed in this endeavor on many levels.

But, in the effort  be transparent, lest anyone think I really am as perfect as I seem……

I give you……my failure

eeewwww, oily eggplant


Things started out well enough, until I used about 6 cups of oil to fry up one eggplant because the oil just kept disappearing with each eggplant slice I added to the pan. I did salt the slices like instructed, and also rinsed off the salt (which I guess I shouldn’t have) . I patted dry, but didn’t squeeze it dry….apparently this matters.

I didn’t have cardamom, a key ingredient in the “spice mixture” used for the rice. I chose to plow ahead without.

I realized the recipe I used was complete, but probably I needed many more instructions….it was most likely geared to someone who had a clue about Arabic cooking and didn’t need hand holding.

At some point, I decided it must be done cooking…. so I turned off the burner and let it set about 15 minutes. Then I flipped it over onto a serving platter ever so carefully.

Major clue of failure: There is not supposed to be a big puddle of broth appearing around the base of my food tower

Clearly, it was not done….but it was too late to put it back in the pan. I chose to continue on my path of dinner destruction.

First, I drained the broth. Then I added fresh parsley and almonds with pine nuts to  mask the flavor garnish.

It doesn’t actually look too bad…..

How did it taste? Perhaps I needed to remember salt…. and less oil. Hmmm, did I burn the eggplant? Maybe a slice, or two…..

It wasn’t terrible…but it wasn’t great. Or even really good to be honest. The older kids got their dad to take them to dinner, and the poor little ones were stuck eating this with me. They made a valiant effort.

I did save some for the husband, the majority went into the garbage as there was no way anyone is going to be looking for leftovers of this stuff.

Here is what it looks like when made by someone with a clue:

This is the actual photo from the recipe I used, from Chef Osama. He seems to know what he’s doing.

I’ll try it again, because I love it (when other people make it). I think next time I’ll just ask one of our relatives who not only cooks it well, but is aware of my deficiencies in the kitchen….. so they can give me all the little secret steps that might have saved me from feeding my family a brick of greasy eggplant tonight.


13 thoughts on “The taste of failure

  1. Ohhh no!! 🙁🙁 All that effort, and it didn’t turn out! I applaud your efforts though, because I could NEVER do that. I can’t even make rice! I’m not a terrible cook, but for some reason, rice stumps me every time. I used to work a shelter, and cooking dinner was part of my job – anytime rice was on the menu, I had to bribe one of the teens to make it for me. I’m sure you’ll have better luck next time!

  2. I love maa’looba. I cook it all the time. I don’t do many layers of rice like chef Osama in the photo you posted. This is what I usually do, I peel and slice potato (rings). I peel and slice onion (rings). I use half a cauliflower and just cut it in pieces. Then I bake all the above until cooked. Meanwhile I use lean beef and fry it with onions and minced garlic and Arabic spices (turmeric, cardamom, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, biryani spices, and ground coriander) very little of each. Then I add a little bit of lemon juice and tomato sauce (very very little) and add freshly chopped coriander to the mix. I soak the rice in water then drain it after 15 mins and add same spices I added to the meat and mix rice well.
    You bring a pot, spray a little bit of cooking oil and start layering. First the potatoes, then onions, then cauliflower, add your meat mixture then top it with the rice. I usually use 2.5 cups to 3 cups of basmati rice. The last step is adding broth, I use the organic chicken broth. You add it until it’s one inch above the rice. You set it on high heat and let the whole thing come to a boil until you don’t see any sign of the broth, then you lower the heat to medium low and cover it and let it cook. The broth will evaporate and the steam will just cook everything. After about 30-45 mins, it should be done. You flip it and it would look perfect and taste yummy. We eat it with yogurt as well. N calls it upside down rice cake cuz it looks like a cake 🙂 and both him and T love it.

    • that sounds awesome!! I just felt adding too much broth would make it all “float away” but I kept adding more because the rice on top wasn’t getting cooked…. I am going to try yours, but eggplant instead of meat 🙂 🙂 🙂 You should make a youtube video for me 😉

      • Hahahahaha. Don’t worry, I did the exact same thing like you the first time I ever attempted cooking it. I kept adding water. It was a mess. But with practice and trial and error I figured the right way. I used eggplants once but the kids weren’t keen on it so I stuck to my meat lol.
        I will be doing it next week when the boys are with me, I will take photos for you 😀

      • that would be awesome!! So glad to hear from you also, checked your site today to see what you’ve been up to. hope all is well 🙂

  3. I’m on a cooking kick, too! I’m trying to improve my craft, which is to say make something halfway edible. Eggplant is a stretch for me, not ready to take on that bad boy. I’m going to make quiche today and after polling the family, absolutely no one is looking forward to this meal!
    Keep at it! Can’t wait to hear of future successes!

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