Since we're living in a bizarro, upside-down world, why not eat something similarly inverted (albeit far more palatable)? Time then for maqluba, whose final presentation is achieved by flipping the dish to reveal a stratified plateau of meat, vegetables, and rice.
Maqluba appears in varying forms in different schools of Middle Eastern cookery, though virtually all involve some form of animal protein (usually lamb), cauliflower and/or eggplant, cooked rice, and multiple spices.
1 pound lamb meat (stew meat or extracted from chops)
2-3 cups chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon allspice
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 cup grilled sliced eggplant
1/2 cup chopped steamed cauliflower
2 cups rice
1/4 cups nuts (pistachios are ideal; I used cashews)
1. Combine lamb meat, 1-2 cups of stock, rosemary, onions, and allspice in a small saucepan. Cook uncovered over low-medium heat until lamb chunks are just barely pink inside.
2. Remove meat from any remaining stock and mix with garlic in a separate bowl.
3. Use all remaining stock (including that left in the saucepan) to cook rice until moist and fluffy. Place in separate bowl.
4. In bottom of original saucepan, layer eggplant slices, then cauliflower, then meat. Add rice last and push down with spatula to compress layers.
5. Place a large plate upside-down on top of pan. Flip contents of pan as gracefully as possible onto plate.*
6. Top maqluba with crushed nuts and season with salt and pepper to taste.
*My technique, as you can see from the photo, needs some work as my maqluba emerged less angular and more hill-like.