Libya - Mafrum
Sliced potato stuffed with ground beef and spices, then simmered in a lovely tomato sauce. Have you tried (or even heard of) this dish before? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your experiences with this.
I went to visit Israel about a month ago for a business school trip (BoothRight). I read before, actually on Jewlish, that this is a common dish in Israel. I was curious if there would be a point during that trip that I would get to try this. I DID! It was really good. I got to try it twice, and it was exactly what I expected, but also way more flavorful than my first attempt! Go figure. I would assume they would do it right. BUT! That just confirmed that I needed to add way more seasonings and spices to my own version. I also think next time, I would add less water to give the sauce a thicker consistency.
When I attempted this dish, the very first potato slice was tricky, having to a cut a “V” shape into it for stuffing. I didn’t know what that meant at first, and how thick or thin the potato slice should be. But then I got into a rhythm and quickly learned how deep to cut each slice. The main change I would make is to add more seasonings, both to the beef and the tomato sauce. The recipe I used left the sauce relying on the tomato flavor, rather than the other seasonings, causing it to be a tad bit bland, unfortunately. I think as long as you’re comfortable with Mediterranean or Middle Eastern flavors, you can absolutely season this dish to a higher level.
5 potatoes (sliced)
1 cup flour
Parsley (to garnish)
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
1/2 large onion (chopped)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp oil (for frying)
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 small onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tbsp paprika
1/3 cup tomato paste
3 tomatoes (chopped)
2 cups water
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Wash and peel the potatoes. Normally, I’m all about keeping the skin on for potatoes, but you want them clean here. Slice the potatoes into 1/2 inch thick wedges. Now, very carefully, cut into the wedge about 3/4 of the way, forming a V-shape. You want to be careful not to cut it all the way through. If you do, that’s okay, and you can make little “hamburgers” out of them when it’s time for the meat. Place the cut potatoes in a bowl of water to keep them from browning.
In a mixing bowl, add all of the meat filling ingredients. Mix well. Don’t be shy about adding more of the seasonings (cinnamon, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper).
Take about a golf ball sized amount of meat, and stuff them into the V of the potatoes. Be careful not to push too hard, otherwise, the V potato might break apart. Be delicate. It might take you a try or two to get the feel of how much meat and how much you can stuff, but you will get the hang of it!
Now, set up two bowls, one with flour, and one with egg. Coat the stuffed potatoes in flour, then in egg.
Add the oil to the pan and fry potatoes on all sides. This is another area where I think 5 potatoes is crazy. When frying, you don’t want to crowd the pan so you will have to fry them in batches.
For the sauce, you will be using a big pot, or a very big, deep pan. On medium heat, add the oil. The original recipe calls for the onions after adding in the water, but for better flavor, add the onions now. Fry for 5-7 minutes, until golden. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the paprika to the mixture and combine. Add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and water. Mix well until the tomato paste is well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the now fried potatoes to the pot, cover and cook on low heat for 45 minutes. Feel free to simmer for up to an hour. The sauce will seep into the fried potatoes beautifully.
Serve with couscous and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Jewlish.