Upside Down

It's been much longer than I wanted to. I haven't been able to read as much as I'd like, to ride my motorcycle on a twisted mountain road, to walk by the sea or to sit down in the privacy of my own thoughts and blog. Working for a living is the most overrated human activity. To take pride in what we do is acceptable but to surrender our identities to our careers is so pitifully vain. I honor what I do but what I do doesn't add or take away anything from what I truly am. Since my last business trip, work has been pressing parasitically on my personal space. I work for a living that's true but I need to eventually take a firm stand and not allow a job, any job, to turn my life upside down.

And this brings us to the recipe I chose to share with you today: Ma'loubeh or Upside Down is a Levantine eggplant dish. I often post about local recipes in their most basic form for a purpose. I want you, the reader, to be able to acquire, prepare and cook the dish without hassle. This is exactly the case with my Upside Down since there are so many more elaborate variations to this basic theme.

I must confess that as a child I was not a fan of eggplants at all. In fact, I'm not really that fond of them even today. However, I have changed my attitude to not eating something because I don't like to eating it and appreciating the fact that I have food on my table while many people are hungry around the world. You might be wondering why am I swaying left and right when all I intend to write about ultimately is a recipe. I guess this is my own way of getting in the mood for blogging again. I'm wetting my toes before I dive in and shiver in the briskly cool waters of November.

If you're into eggplants (as food or in some other twisted and kinky way) Ma'loubeh will turn you upside down. I wonder why they don't call it 69? Come to think of it, it's equally appropriate:-)

2 cups rice - (long grain)
400 g ground beef or minced lamb
1 kg round eggplants - cut in slices (1” thick)
1 small onion – diced
Salt, pepper and spices as per preference (for the meat and rice)
1 cube chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • Mix the meat and onions in a frying pan over medium heat until golden brown
  • Separately heat the eggplants in a large pan on both sides (10 minutes each) in the oven (high) then remove and wait for the pan to cool a little so you don't burn your hands. Uuuhhh, if you're the gorgeous woman I have in mind let me kiss that burn for you. If you're a man and happen to burn your hand, stick it somewhere then get back to cooking (don't forget to wash it first)
  • Arrange the eggplants side by side and in layers if needed with the meat and onions
  • Add 2 ½ cups water and 1 cube of chicken broth. Wrap in aluminum foil completely and return to oven for 20 minutes
  • Remove and collect the sauce in a small pot
  • In the same frying pan we used for the meat and onions, heat the butter then stir in the rice for a few minutes before throwing it in the sauce to cook (normal way of cooking rice)
  • Bring in a new pot (its shape will determine the final look of the dish) and spread the eggplants, meat and onions at the bottom. Top with 1/3 the quantity of cooked rice then another layer of the remaining eggplants, meat and onions then the rest of the rice
  • Place the serving glassware on top of the pot and turn Upside Down to get the dish ready for the table
  • Enjoy with salted plain yogurt on the side (add some garlic for great taste)

Sahha W Hana


Anonymous said…
Nice! But I'm vegetarian.Thanks .

Isobel said…
Lol...hmmm...69!! Anyway...I love eggplant as long as the bitterness has gone and this recipe sounds great! I swear I'm going to have to start a special "Abufares" recipe duo-tang folder for the kitchen! ;) Thanks for another yummy one...I'm still giggling...
annie said…
My first visit in a long time as if I knew that something was cooking at Tartous. I have guests over at the week end and I was at a loss re what to cook for them. VoilĂ  ! You did it again.
BIL said…
Yes Abufares work is the most over rated BS one can partake of (sometimes), some call it a means to an end. That too is how I often feel when seemingly mundane things take on a priority far beyond their real worth. One can be thankful that there is a time to be able to “chill out” and retreat to the kitchen escaping to another world and create something as an antidote to which we find ourselves a slave of. It seems, as you have said, swaying left and right and coming up with a truly unique recipe of your “upside down” eggplant dish. (This by the way sounds yummy.) So let your thoughts toss and turn (thinking about that nice ride in the country) and when all is settled, you will find that groove again. OBTW even over here the water is cold. But I will certainly try this one – Thanks - BIL and watch those hands!!!
Gabriela said…
I agree with you that work can be pressing and can take away our personality. On the other hamd, you have someone like me, independent lawyer, with almost no work at all and, consequently, with almost no money of my own at all.
About Isobel's comment, what if I told you both to write recipes as a duet (for it would almost be a beautiful song). Abufares, you have got some experience with that "duo writing", don't you?
All the best, my friend!
Anonymous said…

Upside Down lyrics,Jack Johnson

Who's to say
What's impossible
Well they forgot
This world keeps spinning
And with each new day
I can feel a change in everything
And as the surface breaks reflections fade
But in some ways they remain the same
And as my mind begins to spread its wings
There's no stopping curiosity

I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I'll find the things they say just can't be found
I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's songs
I don't want this feeling to go away

Who's to say
I can't do everything
Well I can try
And as I roll along I begin to find
Things aren't always just what they seem

I want to turn the whole thing upside down
I'll find the things they say just can't be found
I'll share this love I find with everyone
We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's songs
This world keeps spinning and there's no time to waste
Well it all keeps spinning spinning round and round and

Upside down
Who's to say what's impossible and can't be found
I don't want this feeling to go away

Please don't go away
Please don't go away
Please don't go away
Is this how it's supposed to be
Is this how it's supposed to be


Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Abufares said…
In principal I see no reason why you can't make this dish totally vegetarian. Just drop the meat. It might not taste as good but being a veggy... well you deserve it :-)
Abufares said…
I always thought 69 is better than 96 although 99 is not bad at all.
:-D (there is no emoticon for a mischievous face!!!)

I really like eggplants sometimes especially if I've been eating healthy for a while and I'm starving for some fried junk.
I'm so glad I made you giggle. That was the whole point.
Abufares said…
It's been a while since you've last been here and I'm glad your visit proved helpful.
Please let me know how your Upside Down turned out to be.
Well... it should literally come out upside down.
Abufares said…
I have my own independent practice and if it were not for the obligations and responsibilities I would've not bothered with a second job. I'd rather be doing anything else than having 2 jobs.

Now to the other part of your comment which made me discover that in addition to you being one of the most wonderful people I know you are also so Picara;-)
If it's entirely up to me I don't mind being stuck with Isobel in a small kitchen to write duet recipes or for something far more original than that.
May be you can intervene on my behalf:-)
Abufares said…
Thank you for the song
Abufares said…
Thank you for the links although I would've preferred to read a word or two from you.
Abufares said…
Yes my friend, sometimes I'm just overwhelmed by the whole work ethic concept. Don't get me wrong, I really work my ass off and always give 100% to any job I perform. But this is my whole point: I am bringing honor and value to work and it's never the other way around.
Upside Down is yummy and you should give it a try as soon as possible. Don't forget the yogurt on the side.
KJ said…
I've never been a fan of eggplants BUT I like the taste - just hate the eating it part. So in ma2loobeh I give the eggplants to someone else and savor the taste with the rice and meat.

Abufares said…
You and AB would have a fantastic meal together. Just split the rice.
Karin said…
YES - it's YUMMY!! I did prepare it quite a while ago but used besides of fried eggplant slices as well fried cauliflower florets and besides of ground beef - goulash meat (meat pieces)!
It turned out DELICIOUS ...

On the picture ... are the green things stuffed kusa?
Maybe I'm wrong and need new glasses ...

Thanks for the recipe - next time I'll do it YOUR way! :-)
Dania said…
I've been sucked into the system myself, and the chaotic weird me is turning into organized stratigic girl who would plan every week a head. I bore myself to death!

I love my job -sometimes- and it is a part of me cause partially I do something that I've always wanted to do, but I know what you mean when you say "my personal space" cause I've been trying to get it alot lately but in vien!!

and so, upside down brings the worst memories ever, I see how eggplant is unpopuler inhere! BUT.. when I get to find my own "Sea Side" piece of heaven, trying to run a way, and on that time I will call you and invite myself over "I'll be close to Tartous" and I will have ma'lobeh made by passion.

Dania said…
just read my comment, sorry for the BIG MISTAKES i made, language is not something I use well ;)
Anonymous said…
Thanks Abu FAres; I used your recipe and the links from youtube.Totally vegetarian!
It was delicious! My girlfriend and me liked it.
Maqloobah lazizah!

Awafy Abu Fares!

Shirley Sunman said…
Eggplants, gotta love 'em: under-rated, under-used and often abused. Do you have a Syrian version of Iman Bialdi you would post? Work on the other hand is over-rated and over-used ;-)
Abufares said…
As I said there are so many variations. Mine is a very basic and easy one to prepare. The green things are eggplant slices, lollll. You either need new glasses or I need another camera:-)
Abufares said…
It's not too late to reverse the process and get "unsucked" by the system.
I enjoy certain aspects of my jobs too but I won't let them get to my head.
And I take it you're following Sea Side which makes me very happy indeed.
Anytime Dania, you're more than welcome:-)
Abufares said…
Since your girlfriend liked it she must prove it to you... Wow, it's an all around winning proposition :-)
Glad you both liked it really.
Abufares said…
Most vegetables are underrated and under-appreciated while work is indeed overwrought with undue importance and appraisal.

I had Imam Bayaldi, on originally Turkish dish, at my aunt's house in Damascus so many years ago. I'll see what I can do, that is try to prepare it at home then post about it.
Anonymous said…
Abufares said…

Karin said…
Ooops - I think I go with the new glasses!!!!!!!!!! ;-)
Joseph said…
Upside Down!

Good to see that you're back in action Abufares. Your Ma'loubeh is delicious.

Let's see if you, or anyone of your guests, remember this one:
What is the difference between "69" & "96" ? LOL This is like being back in school.
Allie said…
That recipe sounds wonderful, Abu Fares. In return, I want to share a recipe someone gave to me earlier this year (if for no other reason, than to add another eggplant dish that's so divine it can't be disliked):

1 globe eggplant
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup each: dried potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes), grates parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. While oven is heating, put butter in a baking dish and melt the butter in the heating oven. Peel the eggplant and slice it into 1/2" rounds. Feel free to cut the larger rounds in half. Whisk together egg, salt and pepper. Combine potato flakes and cheese in another bowl/plate. Dip eggplant into egg mixture, then coat in the potato/cheese mixture. Place rounds in preheated pan. Bake 10 minutes, then flip the eggplants and bake another 10 minutes. Serves 2.

If you want to see what they look like, there's a picture here:
Mariyah said…
Abufares, my dear friend, I'm afraid I have been very negligent where you are concerned. I suppose since we started this story of ours I've become're always with me at my place and I've gotten lazy about commenting on yours. I never miss reading a single, wonderful post though, as you know. Your recipe is delightful as is any post you write. I can only hope that the burdens of work lift enough again to allow you to enjoy all of the things that bring you fulfillment and particularly so you find time to continue thrilling us with your wonderful talent. :) See you soon at my place. (can't wait!)
Ziggy said…
So glad you're back! I must agree, work is very over-rated. 2 good thigns come out of having a job: a sense of pride at having accomplished something in your career, and a paycheck. At this point I am quite happy with what I have accomplished career-wse, so the only thing i miss about not having a job is... the paycheck lol. I am on the hunt to find a way to retire comfortably by the age of 30 and Im slowly but surely running out of time, lol.. but if i never have to spend 40, 50, 60, 70 hours a week at an office anymore, Ill be the happiest person alive :)
Ziggy said…
by the way, of course now I am craving ma2loubeh like crazy, and I dont think theres gonna be an easy way to find a quality one in Madrid, lol
Abufares said…

Well you should consider the fact that many women look sexy in glasses.

Abufares said…
Please tell us Oh Wise One, lolll.
I have no idea really but lately 99 has been constantly on my mind ;-)
Abufares said…
Thank you for sharing.
Eggplant Lovers Unite!!!

I will give it a try. The photo on your blog made me drool :-)
Abufares said…

Did I die and go to heaven??? Mariyah is here :) :) :)
A simple back rub will do!

It's not the same without you, and you know it, but I guess you enjoy being spoiled and sweet-talked by me. I'm always happy to see you here or anywhere else in fact.

See you, your place, Friday:-)
Abufares said…
Thank you for your visit.
I was shooting for 50 but I think I will miss it (not hours a week, but to retire at 50)
Well we can't have it all I guess and what I have is sooooo good I shouldn't really complain.
Joseph said…
99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Hielt man fuer UFOs aus dem All
Darum schickte ein General
Eine Fliegerstaffel hinterher
Alarm zu geben, wenn es so war
Dabei war da am Horizont
Nur 99 Luftballons...Whatever that means, LOL.

The wise man said:

Definition of "69": "You eat mine, I eat yours"

Definition of "96": "You eat mine, I owe you one"
Anonymous said…
That foto of Upsidedown is the most repeling thing I have ever seen. Go to Hama to see the real one this is a monkeys version of it
Abufares said…
Thank you for your kind remark. You are obviously a charming person.
I've been to Hama many times and I found it most "interesting" food and otherwise... especially otherwise :-)
Anonymous said…
Hama foods are one of the best in the middle east.

Your recipe wasn't very successful enough!
What is this gentle man:((If you're a man and happen to burn your hand, stick it somewhere then get back to cooking (don't forget to wash it first) .)).
I think you are bigger enough to write such that,especially you write about foods?

We visit this blog page because we used to read a very high standard and respectful writing;so I couldn't understand why you did that?

All the best man, you are free,it's your blog and your thoughts!

A man likes Syria.
kinzi said…
Hello, Abu Fares! Zamaan ana ma ijeet, asfi jiddan :)

My kids LOVE Ma'luubeh! We go more for the cauliflower kind.

Have a great day, even if it is at work.
Abufares said…
I'm sure the food of Hama tastes great, just like everywhere else in Syria, the Levant and... well the rest of the world. However, being from Tartous I'm obviously more biased toward her than anywhere else, food included.
I'm sorry you don't enjoy my writing anymore but there's very little I can do about that.
You see, I too read plenty of stuff I don't like everyday but it never occurs to me to leave comments on blogs saying that their food is repelling or that their version of a certain dish is the monkeys version.
There is no way that my writing can "appeal" to everyone. Even Holy Text cannot claim such honor. My writing, technically speaking, remains very high standard. As to being respectful this is obviously subjective.
Nevertheless, you are always welcome to voice your opinion.
Thank you for your comments.
Abufares said…
Welcome back, "Ilo Zaman Hal Amar Ma Ban."
You know it just occurred to me that we make Zahra exactly the same way as eggplants but we never call it Ma2loubeh. I, too, love it with Cauliflower, your kids are absolutley correct.
It's Thursday, the last day of the week and I'm happy that I will be breaking the chains later this afternoon.
Anonymous said…
Thank you Abu Fares for your reply.Later,I'll reply to your comment.

A man likes Syria.
Katia said…
I love ma2loubeh. I actually am ma2loubeh pretty much all the time. And I will be more so in a little while :-)

It's going to be my turn to start counting down soon ;-)
Abufares said…
Ohhh, a countdown. Well I hope you enjoy the hell of out of your 0 Hour and make it last till Infinity ;-)
Fantasia Lillith said…
Only you would bring deep thoughts on your way to a recipe! looks good ... made me want to go home a cook with my man who has this wonderful "bad" habit of wearing nothing ... dangerous but oh so yummy!
Abufares said…

You know what! Sometimes I get the urge to turn my blog erotic especially in times like these when I have nothing (else on my mind) to write about.

Eating Upside Down with your naked man fueled my imagination with my own cravings.

Well it involves "one" naked woman and plenty of Labneh (
BTW, I strongly urge you to give it a try if you haven't already done so. Labneh as simple food or as a prop for a totally erotic adventure. Who knows, we might actually get lucky enough to read about it on your blog.
I'm sorry I'm not commenting there as much as I'd like but nevertheless I don't miss any of your posts. Always brilliantly sensual.
Anonymous said…
Upside,No down!!

Don't delete!!!

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