A couple of weeks ago Hazel and I had lunch at a Moroccan restaurant called Oasis in San Luis Obispo. We loved everything we tasted, and since we ordered a bunch of appetizers in order to sample as much as possible, we tasted a lot. I particularly liked the maakouda, which the owner said he had learned to make from his mother.
His version was unlike others I’ve seen: made colorful with chunks of mashed carrots and sheathed in a crispy chickpea-flour crust and served with a spicy tomato sauce. I came home determined to replicate it as much as possible, and the pink soup birthday party gave me the perfect opportunity. All of our guests are adventurous eaters, so I knew no one would poke at the maakouda suspiciously and push the plate away.
(Moroccan Potato Patties)
2 pounds potatoes
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 or 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon harissa powder or a couple dashes of hot pepper sauce, to taste*
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
¼ cup chopped cilantro
3 eggs, divided
I use Red Bliss potatoes because I hate to peel spuds (I spent my childhood peeling potatoes for a family of zillions. Okay, 12—but when you’re peeling potatoes, it’s zillions). Boil the whole potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain and mash then—you can remove some of the skin if you like (I usually do). While the potatoes are cooking, sauté the onions until they’re translucent and then add the garlic; sauté for another minute. Gently toss the spices, potatoes, onions and garlic and cilantro together. Taste and adjust seasoning. At this point you can refrigerate it until you are ready to fry the patties; I like to let the flavors meld.
When you’re ready to proceed, mix in two of the three eggs to help the potatoes stick together. Lightly beat the third egg with a little water or milk and pour into a shallow pan or a plate. Put a cup or two of chickpea flour on a second plate.
Heat the oil until it shimmers. Shape the potatoes into patties and dip each one in the egg mixture, then in the flour. Fry until crisp, turning once. Place the patties on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan in a warm oven until all the patties are done.
I serve them with lebneh (kefir cheese) and a Moroccan-spiced tomato sauce, but they’re great right out of the frying pan.
*Harissa powder is available from various online sources. Mine comes from 54 Gourmet Spice Blends; no website, phone 818-546-1223.