Potato fritter filled with spiced lamb

LEVEL: Advanced



3 large potatoes, boiled in their skins until tender
50g plain flour or potato flour; plus extra for shaping cakes
1 tsp salt
1 egg

2-3 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp
1 onion, finely diced
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
300g minced lamb
2 tsp paprika
3 tsp Lebanese 7-spice powder toasted pine nuts (optional)
vegetable oil, for frying
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


These fritters are a little like a potato kibbeh, except I fry them in a flat pan so they end up like potato cakes, rather than smooth, rounded kibbeh. If ever you want an utterly comforting Sunday breakfast meal, try these. Boiling large potatoes whole takes a while (microwaving them is much faster) but it stops them taking on water that could cause your potato cakes to fall apart. The drier the cooked potato, the better the potato cake. The lamb I use is similar to the topping for the Man’ousha (see p.212), and if you have some left over, you can freeze it to use later as a flatbread topping.

Peel the potatoes while they’re hot and then mash them in a bowl with the flour. Add the salt, mash well again then do the same with the egg. Leave until cold before using.

For the filling, pour 2-3 tablespoons of oil into a frying pan, add the onion with a splash of water and cook until the onion is translucent and soft. Add the tomatoes and garlic, then cook until the moisture has evaporated and the mixture is starting to sizzle. Spoon this into a bowl, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the lamb and cook over a high heat until the lamb is brown and dry. Add the tomato mixture and the spices, and season with salt and pepper. If you like, you can add toasted pine nuts as well. Heat again until the mixture is sizzling, then leave to cool completely before using.

Make the fritters to whatever size you like. Take a ball of cooled, cooked potato in a floured hand and make a depression in the centre. Spoon some cold minced lamb into the centre and then pinch the potato around it to trap the filling inside. With a little flour on the worktop, pat the cake flat and shape the sides neatly. Repeat with the remaining potato and lamb mixtures.

You can either fry or bake the potato cakes. To fry, heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the cakes in batches, until golden brown on each side, then place in a low oven to keep warm, while you fry the remainder.