Stuff it!

Processed with Moldiv

Given that my partner is half Lebanese, we often eat Arabic food.  I was looking through some middle eastern cookbooks and it struck me how many of their recipes consist out of stuffed vegetables.  From potatoes, to courgettes (zucchini), peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, onions and even cabbage gets filled with all kinds of deliciousness.  The fillings can be rice, ground meat or chicken mixed with spices, fresh herbs and nuts.

Last weekend I made stuffed potatoes. Traditionally they are eaten with rice but even for a carb-o-holic like myself this is too much of a good thing so I serve it with a simple tomato and cucumber salad.

It’s the spices that provide the middle eastern flavor: in this version I used Bokharat, an Arabic 7 spice mix.  You can find it in most middle eastern shops, but you’ll also find the recipe on my blog if you fancy making it yourself or can’t find it anywhere.

Ingredients (makes enough for 4 people)

  • 1 kilogram of potatoes, preferably new potatoes but ordinary ones work as well
  • 2 tablespoons of Arabic 7 spices
  • ground meat (beef or lamb)*
  • 1 large onion cut up in small pieces
  • pine nuts
  • 1 liter of peanut or sunflower oil for frying
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic grated or cut up in small pieces

*if you want to make a vegetarian version you can replace the ground meat with cooked rice


  • Peel the potatoes.
  • Empty out the potato: you can do this which ever way you find easiest.  You can buy a special tool for this however personally I find that a small teaspoon works best.  Don’t use a knife, the potatoes are slippery and you risk cutting yourself.
  • Pour the oil in a deep pot and heat it up.  To prevent any overflow, make sure you do not fill the pot more than half.  You can check if the oil is hot enough for frying by putting a small piece of bread (or potato) in it and it should start frying immediately.  If that is not the case, the oil is not hot enough yet.
  • Fry the potatoes in the oil. The goal is not to get them golden brown and crispy, fry them gently until you start seeing bubbles on the outside of the potatoes and they have slightly softened.
  • Let the fried potatoes cool down on some some kitchen towel.
  • Take a pan and over medium heat fry half of the onion mixture together with the half of the chopped garlic and all of the pine nuts until the onions are soft and the pine nuts are golden brown.
  • Add the beef to the onion/garlic/pine nut mixture and fry it.
  • In a separate pan fry the remaining onion and garlic and add the chopped tomatoes.  Bring the tomato mixture to the boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Fill the potatoes with the meat mixture.
  • Taken an oven dish and poor the tomato sauce into it.  Arrange the potatoes in the dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 200°C.
  • Take the dish out of the oven and let cool slightly.  Then take half a lemon and squeeze it over the potatoes.

That’s it! Let’s eat!



Lebanese spice patatoes (batata harra)

batata harra (2)Having a Lebanese husband I need to indulge him now and then with a home cooked Lebanese meal.  Something that is always part of these meals (and always a hit) is batata harra, which are spicy Lebanese fried potatoes.  It is a simple dish but very delicious – you can make it ahead and reheat it, great for leftovers.  Reheating anything fried probably does not sound like something you would associate with the term delicious, but here it works.  The coriander gives it a wonderful, almost lemony, taste which I love.


  • 1kg of potatoes (you can use any kind of potato – I like using new baby potatoes)
  • oil for frying the potatoes (any flavorless oil, for example sunflower or peanut oil)
  • 1 medium hot chili pepper
  • 4 spring onions
  • a large bunch of fresh coriander (about 40 grams, stalks and all)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt


  • Wash the potatoes.
  • Cut the potatoes in bite size chunks, no need to remove the skin.
  • Fry the potatoes but do not fry them till they are crispy, they work best in this dish when they are still a bit soft.  Once fried, put them to the side.
  • Cut the chili pepper very finely, if you like it hot leave in the seeds, if you don’t take them out.
  • Cut the coriander very finely, stalks and all.
  • Slice the spring onions finely.
  • Fry the chili, coriander and spring onions in a generous amount of olive oil (2 to 3 tablespoons).  Add the salt.  Once the chili and spring onion are soft, the coriander should be ready as well and a lovely smell should come from your pan.  I prefer doing this in a wok, I am a messy cook and once the potatoes get added using a wok prevents everything from flipping out of the pan and making a mess in the kitchen.
  • Add the fried potatoes and mix them in with the fried chili/coriander/spring onion mix.

If you like lemon, just before serving you can put a generous squirt of lemon on it.

Let’s eat!