Upside-down Company Platter
- Cover eggplant with salt water, and soak for 30 minutes.
- Drain and pat dry.
- In a large heavy saucepan or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, add and fry sliced eggplant and carrots.
- Remove and set aside.
- In same oil, brown lamb or beef, chopped onion and garlic.
- Add 2 teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon ground allspice, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, dash of cinnamon and 1½ cups water.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until meat is tender, about 30 minutes for lamb, and 45 to 60 minutes for beef.
- Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, boil 3 cups water.
- Remove from heat and add long-grain rice, ½ to 1 teaspoon saffron or ¼ to ½ teaspoon turmeric.
- Cover and soak for 10 minutes.
- Drain and set rice aside.
- When meat is tender, drain and reserve broth.
- Place browned vegetables over meat in saucepan.
- Arrange eggplant and carrot slices attractively.
- Top with soaked rice, carefully leveling it.
- Add enough water to reserved broth to make 3 cups.
- Slowly pour over rice. Do not stir!
- Return to heat, bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let stand, covered, 15 more minutes.
- Invert saucepan on a large attractive platter, at least 2 to 3 inches in diameter larger than the saucepan.
- Let stand 10 minutes more while preparing: 2 fresh tomatoes, cut in wedges, 2 lemons, cut in wedges, and sprigs of parsley.
- Carefully remove pan so rice does not lose shape of pan.
- Sprinkle with ¼ cup toasted almonds.
- Lay tomato and lemon wedges and parsley sprigs around edges of the platter.
- Pass a bowl of plain yogurt to spoon over top.
- Squeeze lemon over makhlubbi to taste.
- Serve with pita bread and sliced cucumbers in olive oil and vinegar.