Eggplant “Upside Down” Rice Cake is a deliciously spiced, savory dish known by its Arabic name Ma’loubay, meaning upside down. This is because of the way you flip it like a cake to serve!
Eggplant “Upside Down” Rice Cake is one of my favorite dishes! I’ve loved it since I was kid and still request it every time I have my mom around. I know it seems like it’s such a basic rice dish. What are we working with….some eggplant, beef, nuts… how can that be soooo delicious you ask?? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s so perfectly spiced and moist because of the eggplant. Plus, those toasted nuts add the greatest texture and flavor that just brings the whole dish to life!
There are obviously many different styles of making this dish. Nadia uses tomatoes and tomato sauce in her version of this recipe. It’s also super good and I definitely suggest a try! The funny thing with me and most rice dishes is that I always prefer my rice, as my mom and I call it “mushy.” My mom always told me this was considered aib (shameful) to present your rice mushy. But, whenever she makes it for me alone, I insist!
Something about mushy rice just makes everything more moist and therefore more enjoyable. Does it look as nice….no. But hey, looks aren’t everything right?? So if you do want a more mushy consistency, all you need to do is add a bit more water and you will enter Deana’s rice heaven!
As for the presentation, flipping can be a little tricky. First, you want to have a flat dishes without a curve for the easiest flip. Then, you pile in the eggplant tightly with no spaces at the bottom of the pot, then the rice. Place the plate over the top of the pot, using both hands to hold the pot to the dish, flip over in one quick movement. Then you can sprinkle the nuts and the beef (or you could’ve put the beef in the rice when cooking) on top and serve!
My dish in these photos was lacking enough eggplant because I used part for another dish….whoops. So it didn’t flip as tightly and beautifully as it normally would. But remember….looks aren’t everything;-)
Eggplant "Upside Down" Rice Cake is a deliciously spiced, savory dish known by its Arabic name Ma'loubay, meaning upside down. This is because of the way you flip it like a cake to serve!
- 1 large eggplant, sliced in rounds, salted (or 2 medium)
- 1/2 cup oil, vegetable
- 3 cups white rice, soaked
- 3 cups water
- 1 pound ground beef, 80%
- 1/2 teaspoon 7 spice blend (or all-spice)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided (2 T for almonds, 1 T for pine nuts)
- yogurt (optional)
Sprinkle salt onto both sides of eggplant slices. Wait until you see water droplets show (a sign that water is being absorbed), about 5 min. Then blot excess water with paper towel.
In a large skillet over med-high heat, add oil. Allow oil to heat up for 1-2 min.
Add eggplant slices to the oil and cook for about 5 min or until golden brown. Flip and repeat on other side. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel lined plate.
In a large saucepan, add eggplant to the bottom of the pot in a circular pattern until there is no space showing, overlapping the eggplant.
Pour soaked rice over the eggplant and add 3 cups of water. Water should come just above the rice. Bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to low so the dish is at a simmer for about 10-15 min. The water should no longer be visible.
While the rice is cooking, take ground beef, add 7 spice blend, and cook over medium heat in a skillet. No oil is necessary as the fat from the beef will be enough. Once beef is golden brown, about 5 min, turn off heat and set aside.
After you finish browning the beef, in another small skillet over medium heat, cook slivered almonds in 2 T olive oil, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 3-5 min. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
In the same pan, add 1 T olive oil and cook the pine nuts stirring constantly until golden brown, about 3-5 min. Add to the bowl of almonds with remaining oil.
Once, the pot has cooled slightly, take a large, flat plate that can fit over your pot completely and rest it on top of your pot.
Using both hands to hold the dish to the pot, while holding pot handles, flip the pot and dish over in one quick movement and set down on the counter.
Slowly remove the pot from the dish and fix any areas that may have fallen. Top with ground beef and toasted nuts and serve with a side of yogurt. Enjoy!
When soaking rice, put the amount of rice desired and cover with water just enough to reach the top of the rice. Let soak for a minimum of 5 min if using very hot water. If using cold water, it may take about an hour.