This blog – which many of you know and love for its Jewish twist – recently celebrated its seventh year. Since 2009, we have published almost 700 recipes, many of which are typical of Italian Jewish, Middle Eastern and even Eastern European cuisine, but we are guilty of never having found the time to tell you about the recipe for one of the most delicious and classic Jewish Libyan cuisine foods, mafrum.
Mafrum are stuffed vegetable patties, which are first fried, then stewed in tomato sauce. As you can imagine, it is quite a labor-intensive dish to prepare, but is invariably loved by anyone who tries it.
Many traditional dishes are prepared in my home, to celebrate Shabbat and the main Jewish festivals, such as hraimi, lubia, bestile, and nukides, but in my “culinary memory” all family celebrations always included the taste of mafrum.
Take a free afternoon and have fun cooking; I promise you, it will be worth it.
- 500 g of chopped beef
- choice of vegetables to stuff: potatoes eggplant, cauliflower, artichokes, onions
- 1 finely minced onions for the stuffing
- 1 thinly sliced onions for the sauce
- 30-50 g of breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs for the stuffing + 3 eggs for breading before frying
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon for filling
- 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika for the filling + ½ teaspoon, for the sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- oil for frying
- 00 flour for dredging
- 2 spoons of tomato concentrate for the sauce
- Extra virgin olive oil for the sauce
- Filling - First, mix the filling ingredients, such as meat, minced onion, eggs, parsley, spices, a healthy pinch of salt and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. The texture of the stuffing should be similar to that of the regular meatballs. Once the filling is ready, move it into the refrigerator and proceed to prepare the vegetables to be stuffed.
- Vegetable preparation - The simplest, most traditional and most liked Mafrum are those made with potatoes; so if this is the first time you try out this rather labor-intensive recipe, you should start with those, but of course you can also use many other vegetables such as eggplants, artichokes, cauliflowers, onions, etc.
- The principle is simple: you want to "butterfly" cut the potatoes (or other vegetables) so that there is a "V" shaped groove to fill with the stuffing. For potatoes it's simple, all you have to do is peel them, cut them geometrically to get a kind of squared off prism, and then cut into it with a knife (up to approximately ¾ of the potato) to get a groove. As you cut the vegetables to get the classic "butterfly" shape, keep all the scraps that are left over from cutting, you will need these for the so-called "bottom" of the pot, the most appreciated part of Mafrum.
- Once you butterfly the vegetables, fill the chopped meat previously prepared, proceeding until all the ingredients are used.
- Dredging and frying - Prepare two bowls, one with the three beaten eggs and one with 00 flour.
- Separately, warm a deep frying pan with plenty of oil for frying; keep an eye on the oil temperature if you have a thermometer, or test some apple slices to make sure the oil is hot enough before you start frying.
- Roll the first stuffed vegetables in the flour, trying to make it adhere well, then into the beaten egg. After this, transfer them directly into the frying pan. Fry a few patties at a time, until they are nicely golden, carefully keeping the oil temperature constant.
- As they are ready, drain the patties on a tray covered with paper towels and set them aside.
- The second cooking - Separately, in a very large non-stick pot (and/or with a thick bottom if you have one, Dutch ovens are perfect), saute a nice base for the sauce with plenty of extra-virgin olive oil and the thinly sliced onion. When the sautéed base for the sauce is ready, add the tomato concentrate diluted in a glass of water, the scraps from the vegetables previously prepared, a pinch of salt, and ½ teaspoon of sweet paprika.
- Place the fried patties in the pot with the sauce, making two layers if the size of the pot does not allow all the patties to fit on the bottom of the pot.
- Dust the patties with a pinch of salt, some ground black pepper, and a pinch of cinnamon, then cover with plenty of water, say another 300 ml.
- Stew the patties in the semi-covered pot, at low heat, for a good hour or until the sauce is reduced. You may want to extend the cooking further by adding more water to the patties. As with all the stews, a longer time in the pot ensures a more intense flavor.
- Instructions for serving - Serve the patties on a soft couscous layer, taking care to give each guest plenty of the sauce of veggies scraps from the bottom of the pot.
- Do not forget to add some slices of lemon and black pepper to the table so that guests can use them, if they like, to season their own mafrum.