Remember the magloubeh pact that I made last month, well, in case you are wondering, it is still standing. However, and sadly enough, my first attempt at making magloubeh failed. I will spare you any gruesome images from my first magloubeh experiment but I will narrate the story of its making.

My first trial took place last evening. I attacked the kitchen right after work, around 5 PM. I dove in armed with the famous Arabic cookbook Alf Ba Al Tabekh along with tips and sage advice from both mother and sister. I did not follow the recipe religiously, deciding instead to add both eggplant and cauliflower instead of using only eggplant as the recipe dictates.

I cooked the chicken, fried the vegetables and stacked the ingredients in layers in a pan, which I left on the stove to cook for 40 minutes. All the while, the supportive husband was doing everything he could to assist me. He rushed to the store to purchase a Cidir (roughly that translates to "real big plate"), which is used for flipping the magloubeh over and ultimately serving it.

When I thought the cooking time was over, I called the husband to come flip the magloubeh. He dutifully obliged. Then came surprise! The bottom of the magloubeh — what constitutes the first layer — was blackened! Yes, oh my, the bottom was scorched.

Jeff reacted quickly, scraping the burnt part off and managing to salvage some edible magloubeh bits. We both stuck it out and ate the remainders. And yes, we are still in one piece. I have to admit I was extremely disappointed with this failed attempt, especially since I spent three hours in the kitchen hopeful I’d soon savor some bits of my favorite Arabic dish. The wonderful husband continued his support as we ate the salvaged parts morsels. "You are pretty close," he said. Yeah, yeah!

After relating this story to my Palestinian co-worker, his conclusion was that I did not use enough water while letting the pan simmer for that final fateful forty minutes. I think he might be right. If I remember correctly, I kept waiting for the rice, which constitutes the top layer, to cook before I turned off the burner. I think I waited too long. I could have saved the day by the simple addition of some water.

Ah well! Frankly, I do not know when I will try this again. I certainly need some time to recuperate. Back to frozen pizza!