Maghluba – Chicken & Aubergine Rice

This is a lovely rice dish, demonstrated to me by my sister-in-law from Saudi Arabia. The mastery of the dish is in the ‘wrist’, as there is a mixture of aubergine, onions and spices at the bottom of the pan with the rice cooked on the top. Just before serving, the whole cooked pan is over-turned onto a large rice platter, the saucepan is tapped at the bottom and everything comes out “upside down” to produce a yummy mixture of tender chicken with the softness of aubergines and the flavour of cooked onions.


  • 1lb aubergines, sliced and shallow fried in Olive oil
  • 1lb onions, thickly sliced and sauted in Olive oil
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 6 oz finely sliced onions
  • 2 lb chicken cut into 16 pieces
  • 2 tbs garam masala
  • 1 tbs ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 tbs whole cumin
  • 1/2 cup Pine nuts lightly roasted (optional)
  • fistful of finely chopped fresh mint (optional)
  • 2.5 mugs Basmati rice pre-soaked for 2 – 4 hours in cold water
  • salt to taste


  1. Wash the chicken in cold water and drain in a colander.
  2. Place 4 tbs of the oil in a large non-stick pan, add the sliced onions, saute and remove into a dish and keep aside.
  3. Using a brush paint each side of the aubergine slices with oil and place in a large non-stick frying pan, when the slices turn brown in colour, turn over and do the same to the other side. Remove into a dish and keep aside.
  4. Put the remainder of the oil in the saucepan, add the finely sliced onions, fry until golden, add cloves, cumin, garam masala, salt and black pepper, fry together for 2 mins, add the chicken pieces and cook on high heat for 5 mins until chicken browns a little, then cook covered on medium heat until chicken is almost cooked and liquids have dried up.
  5. Using a large flat wooden or plastic spoon, spread out the cooked chicken onto the floor of the pan, gently make a layer of the onions over the chicken, then layer the aubergines over the onions. DO NOT mix in.
  6. Drain the soaked rice and place gently on top of the layers in the pan, add measured amount (3.5 mugs) of boiling water and salt to taste (for the rice), bring to the boil on medium heat then turn to lowest heat setting.
  7. When water is almost dry and ‘holes’ appear on top of the rice, cover tightly with a lid or aluminium foil and put into the pre-heated oven on a low setting for 20mins or finish cooking on the lowest heat setting on stove top. Switch off and leave covered for 5mins.
  8. Place a large platter on a table with no obstructions, carefully take the rice pot near the platter, place the platter on top of the pan, turn over, tap firmly then gently and carefully ease off the saucepan. This should result in rice at the bottom, with the onions and aubergines on the top -upside down. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh mint if using.
  9. Serve with plain yoghurt or cucumber raita.


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About Me

I am Sabiha Khokhar, born in Kenya now living in London – a busy working mother, wife, published author and passionate cook. Despite having many interests in life, my greatest joy is FOOD!

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