Serves 4 people (generously)
About 500 gr/1 1/4 lb chicken thighs or breasts or pieces of steak or lamb, flattened
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced as half moon shape
2 small/medium eggplants (aubergines), sliced crossways
1 small onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
350 gr/12 oz/ 1 3/4 cups medium grain rice
900 ml/ 3 3/4 cups hot water
Bowl of warm salted water to wash the rice
1 tablespoon of butter
Sunflower oil for shallow frying
Salt and pepper to taste
For marinating the meat:
15 ml/ 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt
15 ml / 1 tablespoon olive oil
5 ml /1 teaspoon cumin
5 ml / 1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon of red pepper paste or
10 ml/ 2 teaspoon tomato paste + 5 ml/ 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinate the meat pieces mixing all the marinating ingredients a day in advance.
Slice the eggplants (aubergines) in half moon or circle shapes (about 2 cm thick). If possible cut the eggplants a day in advance, lay on a tray and sprinkle salt over. Let them dry and squeeze any water remaining on them with paper towel.
Sauté the eggplants, potatoes, onions and the meat (all separately) in the casserole pan you will be cooking with the rice. Drain the excess oil by placing them on paper towel. You can do this phase a day in advance and keep in the fridge.
In the casserole pan, layer the meat pieces to cover the whole surface. Then layer the eggplant slices over the top and then the potatoes slices and the onions evenly.
Soak the rice in warm salted water for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse the rice with cold water. Spread the rice over the potato layer evenly. Add hot water, season with salt and pepper and cover. First start cooking on a medium heat until it starts bubbling. Keep on cooking on a low heat until the rice is cooked and all the water has been absorbed.
Now put a tablespoon of butter in the middle of the rice and push down towards. Add two tablespoon of hot water over the rice and cook for another 10-15 minutes on a very low heat. Once the rice is fully cooked, turn the heat off, put a paper towel over and cover with the lid tightly. The rice will keep on cooking with the steam. Make sure you cook the Mevlubi about 2 hours before you serve. This will give it a chance to rest and allow all the flavours blend together.
15 minutes before serving, reheat the casserole pan on a very low heat. Once it is hot, turn the casserole pan over a big serving plate or tray gently. With the moisture it has, it should come out like a cake.