“Flavors from Home(s)”
Israa Ismaeil

Growing up, my mother, a first generation immigrant,  learned how cook at the hands of her mother. Grilling, frying, grinding, and stewing is the most common ways of preparing most Middle Eastern meals. Because Middle Eastern culture is centered through several patriarchal standards, which took me quite some time to understand, when family was over and it was time to prepare a meal, all 17 and a half women were crammed into a kitchen, exchanging spices, laughter, and occasional snarkiness of how a meal should be prepared.

With the passing of the years, and our coming to America, my mother, for the first time, has been exposed to a culture aside of her own. She integrated more “non-traditional” meals into our week than we were used to. We ate more Martha Stewart, than we did grandmama’s home-mades. With the meeting of new people, my mother went from ‘molokheyya w roz’, to ‘alfredo pasta with a side of lemon chicken’, to ‘fatoosh and taboleh’.

Below is a middle eastern, non-egyptian meal called “makloubeh”




  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 1 16-ounce bag baby carrots
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 small chicken breasts
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked rice


  1. Peel and slice potatoes. Cut cauliflower into florets.
  2. Fry potatoes, carrots and cauliflower separately in vegetable oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  3. In a deep pot, let chicken, sliced onions and 4 tablespoons of butter simmer over medium heat.
  4. Add spices and saute until one side of the chicken is brown and onion is softened.
  5. Pour in chicken broth until pot is 3/4 full. Bring to boil.
  6. Let simmer for 1 hour. Set aside.
  7. Wash extra starch from rice with warm water three times. Drain. Set aside.
  8. Remove chicken from broth and put on the bottom of a pot.
  9. Layer the potatoes, carrots and cauliflower at the bottom of the pot.
  10. Pour rice on top. Pour in strained chicken broth so the liquid is an inch above everything in the pot.
  11. Boil over medium-high heat.
  12. Reduce heat to low and cover pot for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 20 minutes.
  13. Flip onto a large platter. Serve and enjoy!