I wrote a post about our family trip to Iraq and the Marsh Lands a few months ago and included a recipe for a traditional Iraqi dish, batata chap (batata means potato in Arabic).
A reader of this blog, Samir, was having trouble with the recipe (the potatoes not holding their shape). When I posted the recipe, I had used a silicone mold and baked the potatoes instead of the usual frying procedure. The silicone molds helped the potatoes hold their shape. I used a minimum amount of cornstarch (1/4 cup) for 2 pounds of potatoes.
For the baked recipe, click here.
If one does not have a mold, the amount of flour or starch must be increased, otherwise it is not easy to achieve the croquette shape. Hence this second recipe, slightly modified.
INGREDIENTS: Recipe will yield about 22-25 croquettes, depending on the size.
- 1 pound of potatoes (454 g.)
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 125 g.) of cornstarch or flour (note: I used cornstarch)
- salt, white pepper, paprika (optional)
- oil, for frying
- 1 large egg
- Filling: 1/4 pound of minced meat (around 120 g. ), 3 tablespoons of minced onion, 1 diced tomato, spices, 1/4 cup of pine nuts if desired
- olive oil, as needed
- Peel the potatoes and boil in salted water for 30 minutes or until cooked. Drain well and keep the potato water in the freezer to make bread or doughnuts with, if you wish.
- Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and fry the onions and pine nuts, if using; add the meat and spices and stir-fry until the meat is cooked and no longer pink. Add the diced tomatoes and stir, cooking the mixture until well-mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning, keeping in mind that the filling should be well-seasoned, not bland.
- When the potatoes are cool, mash them, adding salt and paprika and mix in the egg and the cornstarch. The dough will be soft, firm and no longer sticky; it should be easy to work with and malleable. Set aside and cover until ready to cook.
- When ready to proceed, set a plate next to the potatoes and pour a scant cup of cornstarch in it. Place a teaspoon in the meat filling. Dip your fingers and the palm of your hands in the starch; pinch off a piece of potato dough the size of a small egg. Flatten the piece between your palms. Place a teaspoon of filling on the flattened dough and enclose the dough pinching the ends to seal the croquette completely. Roll between your palms to get a nicely rounded shape if desired. Place each formed croquette on the plate until all are shaped.
- Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or a pot, at least 3 inches deep. When the oil reaches 375F drop the croquettes in the oil. Separate them gently if they stick together at first, flip them after a couple of minutes so that they color evenly all over. Remove, drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve hot.
The potatoes should be the starchy kinds of potatoes, so-called baking potatoes in the US, or Russet. The filling can be vegetarian, or anything you like, as long as it is well-seasoned as this dish can be a bit bland.