This dish melts in your mouth with a truly Sephardic aroma and taste. It’s a filling, comforting winter food, too. This time I made it without the cabbage that the recipe calls for, but if you do add cabbage, it becomes a near-complete meal needing only rice or couscous to round it out. Since I was serving only four at the time I made this, you will see four potatoes in the photos, but the recipe is made to serve six. There was meat left over, out of which I made meatballs that cooked alongside the potatoes. It’s a lot of chopping, but the combination of meat and potatoes cooked on a low flame till tender in a delicious, spicy sauce, makes a dish well worth the effort.
You’ll need 6 bowls or containers, medium sized
Mafroum serves 6
Source: Fresh Flavors from Israel, a book from the Al HaShulchan magazine
6 medium potatoes of uniform size, peeled
salt and pepper
2 beaten eggs
Oil for frying
500 gr. ground beef
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. salt and ground black pepper
* 2/3 tsp. Baharat spice
1/3 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 Tblsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Chili pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 potato, grated coarsely, rinsed, and drained till dry
1 large, chopped onion
4 crushed cloves of garlic
4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
3 Tblsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
One-quarter of a cabbage, cut into coarse chunks
Approx. 1 liter stock or water – I used chicken soup
3 Tblsp. each of fresh mint, parsley, and celery leaves, chopped
Prepare the potatoes:
Mix the meat and seasonings for stuffing.
Beat it well to mix thoroughly, or get in there with your hands.
Cover the seasoned meat and put it away in the fridge for half an hour, to allow the seasonings to penetrate.
In the meantime, get three bowls out. You’re going to chop the ingredients for the sauce.
Chop the large onion. Put it in one bowl.
In the second bowl put the chopped garlic and celery stalks.
Dice the tomato and put it in the third bowl.
Now prepare the potatoes for stuffing. Peel the potatoes, if you haven’t already, and slice each one almost in half. Leave the bottom uncut so that the two halves stay connected. Stuff the potatoes with the seasoned meat. Pack it in. The open side will show a thicker layer of meat than the inside. With your finger, neatly pat back any meat that spills out of the opening.
In a wide pan, heat the oil for frying.
Beat the eggs. Put about 1 cup of flour in yet another bowl and season it with s&p.
Roll the potatoes in the seasoned flour; shake them back and forth gently to cover them.
Now roll them in the beaten egg.
Fry the potatoes until golden, turning once. Tongs work better than a spatula for this.
Remove from the frying pan and put on paper towels to drain.
Pour out most of the frying oil. Saute the onion in the remaining oil, till golden.
Add the garlic and celery stalks. Fry for 4 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and chopped tomato. Stir, cover, and cook for 10 minutes on low heat.
Season with s&p again, lightly. Add the cabbage and stock or water.
Put the potatoes into the sauce, in one layer. Add the chopped mint, parsley and celery leaves. Put the lid on the pan, tilted to cover it partially. Cook over low heat for 2 hours or until the potatoes are tender.
Serve the potatoes over rice or couscous, with the sauce passed around separately if you wish.
* If Baharat spice mix isn’t available, mix these powdered spices to make your own. Blend well and keep in a tightly-lidded jar.
Baharat Spice Mix
1 Tblsp. cardamom
1 Tblsp. black pepper
1/2 Tbslp. allspice
1 Tblsp. cinnamon
1 Tblsp. dry ginger
1/2 Tblsp. nutmeg