Upside-down chicken and eggplant pilaf

Matt Harvey

This dish combines three of my favourite things: nuts, rice and eggplant. I like to serve it with creamy labneh.

Poached chicken


Quantity Ingredient
1 large chicken breast on the bone
1 small onion, quartered
1 stick celery
sprig thyme
2 bay leaves
1 small cinnamon stick
1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries


Quantity Ingredient
1 medium eggplant, peeled
120ml olive oil
50g pine nuts
50g flaked almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
150g lean minced lamb
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
large pinch salt
250g long-grain rice, rinsed well
600ml chicken stock
ground cinnamon


  1. Put the chicken and all the aromatics into a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the chicken for 20 minutes in the hot stock. Reserve the stock for cooking the rice.
  2. To make the pilaf, first cut the eggplant into thin slices. Put them into a colander and sprinkle with salt. After 20 minutes, rinse them under cold water and pat them dry with kitchen paper.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the pine nuts until golden brown. Remove them from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat the process with the almonds. In the same oil, fry the eggplant slices on both slices until golden brown, adding a little more oil, if necessary.
  4. Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion gently until it softens. Turn up the heat, add the lamb and sauté until all the juices have evaporated. Add the spices and salt, and stir well. Add the rice and stir again before pouring on the reserved chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  5. While the rice is cooking, pull the chicken meat off the bone and shred it roughly into largish pieces. Much of the pleasure of this dish comes from the presentation, so find a deep round bowl and lightly oil the inside. Lie the pieces of chicken inside, going threequarters of the way up the sides. Arrange the eggplant slices on top of the chicken, then carefully spoon in the cooked rice. Pack it in fairly tightly and smooth the surface flat. Leave to stand for a few moments before inverting onto a serving platter. Garnish with the pine nuts and almonds and dust with cinnamon. Serve with a bowl of cool, creamy yoghurt or Labneh, and perhaps a simple green salad.
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