St. Matthew the Evangelist

Matthew was one of Jesus’ first disciples. Tradition equates him with Levi the tax collector and the author of the Book of Matthew. Not a lot is known about Matthew from scripture, but his gospel is oriented to a Jewish church and filled with references to the Old Testament. The Evangelist, symbolized with a winged man, reminds us that Matthew focused on Jesus’ humanity and Jewish life.  

With Matthew being a Palestinian, we thought is would be great to have a favorite Palestinian comfort food—Maqloobeh, which is Arabic for upside down. This lamb and rice dish hits the spot and is great for welcoming company like Matthew (Levi) did for Jesus after his conversion. Geoffrey and his son Luke had an unforgettable dinner of hospitality and friendship while in Bethlehem visiting a Palestinian family. They served this dish with a refreshing mint-lemonade. It was eye opening and heartbreaking to hear of their daily struggles in that politically complicated part of the world. Matthew knew of such hardship and tradition says he died a martyr.

Pictured Above: Winged Man, Symbol of St Matthew, detail from The Symbols of the Four Evangelists and Apostles; 1994; Single-light window. Symbols of the evangelists at the center with symbols of the apostles around the edge of the window. Crown and book at the top of the window with text ‘To God be the Glory’. Size: 40 cm (width) Artist: Janet Hardy Location: Church of St Anne, Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire, south wall of the nave

Maqloobeh with Seven Spices and Yogurt Sauce


1 Eggplant, sliced
3 – 4 Lamb Steaks
2 cups Short Grain Rice
1 tbsp Seven Spices
1 ½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Black Pepper
5 cups Water
¼ cup Pine Nuts
Olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
  2. Slice the eggplant into pieces a few cm thick.
  3. On a baking tray, pour some olive oil. Take a slice of the eggplant and dip it in the oil, turning it over and dipping again until well covered. Place on a separate baking tray and repeat for all eggplant slices. Use as much olive oil as needed.
  4. Bake the oiled eggplant slices in the oven until nicely browned – about 20 – 25 minutes depending on thickness.
  5. On another baking tray, place the lamb steaks. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Bake in the oven until brown and the internal temperature reaches 145 °F, usually around 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the steak.
  6. In a bowl, add the rice, seven spices, and salt and pepper. Mix together. 
  7. Cut a circular piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a deep pot. Spray the bottom of the pot with oil and then place the parchment paper in the bottom.
  8. Add in your cooked lamb steaks, followed by your cooked eggplant slices and then pour over your uncooked rice mixture.
  9. Place an oven safe plate upside down on top of the rice to keep everything from floating.
  10. Add 5 cups of hot water.
  11. Cover with a lid and bring to a constant boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 20 – 30 minutes or until all the water has evaporated and the rice is fluffy. Remove the plate after about 10 – 15 minutes.
  12. Find a large flat plate and place it on top of the pot. Holding onto the plate and pot handles, in one confident motion, quickly lift and flip upside down. 
  13. Lift the pot up to reveal your Maklouba and remove the parchment paper.
  14. Sprinkle with pine nuts and enjoy with traditional bread and yogurt sauce.

7 Spices

1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Mix together until well combined.

Yogurt Sauce

1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup crème fraiche
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, grated

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to one week.