Mafroum (Muh-froom)—Stuffed Potatoes, and NOT for the faint of heart
Is it Tunisian, Libyan, Moroccan or Algerian? Different people will give you different answers because it’s so good everyone wants to claim it! This recipe is inspired by Boulet, meat-stuff potatoes that all the women in my fiance’s family make for Shabbat dinner. When we tried this recipe, we thought that we had made Boulet but quickly learned from our landlord, who dropped by to fix something while we were cooking, that we had actually made Mafroum, a dish his Moroccan father used to make. Whatever its name, Mafroum is a potato stuffed with meat, spices and herbs and covered in a spicy sauce. It’s a bit of a laborious meal to prepare due to all the herb chopping, but when the baharat-spiced meat melts in your mouth and hints of mint tickle your throat you’ll see it was well worth the work.
From: Fresh Flavors from Israel, a book from the Al HaShulchan magazine but found on another blog.
Serves: 6 people, allegedly. The two of us made quite a dent in it. So, I’ll say that if you stick to reasonable portions, this dish serves four, maybe five people happily.
six medium sized potatoes, roughly uniform in shape; peeled
salt and pepper
1 C flour
2 beaten eggs
oil for frying
1 lb ground beef (I used ground turkey because it’s healthier)
1 cup fresh parsley; chopped
1/2 tsp salt and ground black pepper
2/3 tsp Baharat spice (**recipe included below**)
1/3 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tblsp sweet paprika (if you don’t have this, we skipped it)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
chili pepper to taste (we used cayenne)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 potato; grated coarsely, rinsed, and drained till dry
1 large onion; chopped
4 cloves of garlic; crushed
4 celery stalks; coarsely chopped (save the leaves!)
3 tblsp tomato paste
1/2 cup tomatoes; chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 of a cabbage; chopped in coarse chunks
approximately 1 liter of stock (chicken or vegetable) or water
3 tblsp each of fresh mint, parsley, and celery leaves; chopped
**Baharat Spice Mix, as promised**
There are Syrian, Libyan, Tunisian, Moroccan, Turkish and even Iranian versions of this (called Avideh). For this recipe, we’re using the Tunisian version. Blend this well and keep in a tightly-lidded jar.
1 tblsp each of cardamon, cinnamon, ground ginger and black pepper
1/2 tbslp each of allspice and nutmeg
Can you smell it already?! (Secret: I even put a pinch in my zucchini bread!)
How to do it:
Let’s start with “Stuffing.” Combine the meat with all the spices. Beat it well, take off your jewelry and get your hands all up in there if you’d prefer, cover it and place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to intensify.
While that’s happening, we’ll focus on the “Sauce.” Chop the onion and put it aside. Chop the garlic and celery stalks and set them aside, separately from the onion. Diced tomato goes in its own corner as well. Now grab those potatoes! If they aren’t already peeled, do it now. Slice each potato the long way and (please read on!) slice almost all the way through. You only want to create an opening, not slice them in half. Something I learned the hard way. Stuff the potatoes with the meat mixture and clean off the edges by patting it flat.
In a wide pan, heat up your oil. While it’s heating up, put flour, salt and pepper mixed together on a large plate. In a bowl, place the beaten eggs. Roll the potato in flour gently, making sure it’s covered. Now roll it in the egg mixture. Fry the potatoes until golden. Tongs work well, but if you don’t have them around, I used two forks in either hand, but kind of scary if oil is flying all over the place. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Pour out most of the oil and saute the onion in a small amount. Add the garlic and celery and wait several minutes. Add the tomato paste and chopped tomato. Stir, cover, and cook for 10 minutes on low heat.
Season with salt & pepper again, lightly. Add the cabbage and stock/water.
Put the potatoes into the sauce, in one layer. Add the chopped mint, parsley and celery leaves. Put the lid on the pan, slightly ajar. Cook over low heat for 2 hours or until the potatoes are tender. Serve it with salad or over a bed of whole wheat cous cous or spinach.