Friday, December 30, 2011

Libyan Meatballs - Simplified "Mafrum"

There is a lovely tradition in many communities that after a women has a baby, people bring her family meals for a week or so.  One of the meals I received after our little guy was born included the most amazing turkey meat balls.  Below is the recipe from my friend with my notes and pictures.  Note there are two cooking options.

In "non-recipe" style, this dish is modified from Tripolitanian "Mafrum," a more complicated dish made with minced beef sandwiched in potatoes.  It is the traditional Erev Shabbat (Friday night) meal of the Libyan Jewish community.  It is usually served with couscous, but for a lower glycemic option, I recommend whole wheat couscous, bulgur wheat, or barley.

Mix together:

500 grams (1 lb) ground dark meat turkey or lean beef
1 egg
3 Tablespoons of breadcrumbs or matza meal

Chopped (I pulsed in a food processor):
1 onion
several sprigs of parsley
1 small potato
2-3 cloves garlic

Generously season with:

black pepper
Haawaig Lemarak חוויג למרק (Yemenite spice mix)

Two cooking methods:

In gravy

  1. Saute chopped onion with some cut up leek (I also used mushrooms, I didn't have leek).
  2. Adding seasoning as in the meatballs
  3. Add some water, bring to the boil.
  4. Form the balls from meat mixture and carefully drop them into the gravy. 
  5. Let them cook on a medium to low gas for at least 30 minutes, turning over balls if necessary and adding water if needed.You should be left with a small amount of liquid.

Dry/Pan Fried (Better for freezing extra)
My husband said mine tasted like falafel.

  1. Heat some oil in a wide pan.
  2. Form balls from meat mixture and dip them in breadcrumbs or matza meal.
  3. Fry them until the are brown all over. 

"When I want to use them for a meal I make a gravy as above and often add cut up potato on top while I cook them so it gives me a main and side dish together. You can add any veg. you like to the gravy ( I put carrots and somethimes zucchini )."  (I think cabbage and tomatoes would be tasty.)

CLICK HERE for a traditional Tripolitanian Mafrum Recipe

My friend says of the traditional Mafrum, "Just know that it takes more time to prepare than the usual meatballs (that's why I adapted it for my turkey meatballs). So, what we do is to prepare a large batch of fried Mafrum every few weeks, freeze them in separate bags and then on Friday take them out and simply prepare the gravy for Shabbat. Now that my husband and I are alone most weekends it certainly doesn't make sense to make them every week. When all my kids were home it was another story of course."

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