Embattan – Libyan Fried Potatoes Stuffed With Beef
This is my take on a classic Libyan appetizer that is a favorite in any true Libyan heart – the embatna! There’s nothing quite like this anywhere in the world and once you have one bite, you won’t be able to stop. A potato sandwich stuffed with spiced beef, fried and baked to crisp perfection, then dipped in a tomato sauce pool!
I’ve seen and heard about a lot of different variations on how these are made but this is what works best for me after testing it out multiple times before sharing it with you all. It may not be the most traditional but I love making a recipe more personal with my own touches as well as tweaks I learn from the best cooks around, Libyan mothers.
In my house, I grew up only having these during Ramadan. We broke our fast on them a lot of times because what’s better than deep fried potatoes and beef on an empty stomach? The most special part about them was that we all helped my mom make them. She prepared the potatoes and meat filling while we assembled them together and fried them.
If it’s your first time making embattan, it can seem really intimidating at first but once you get the technique down, you’ll be popping out dozens with ease. If any of the potato sandwiches break open, just fry them as potato slices/wedges so not to waste any food.
Either way, it’s a flavor bomb in your mouth and if you have never tried Libyan food before, this is a great way to introduce your tastebuds to the delicious and unique cuisine.
- When picking out potatoes, try to stick to Russet as your first choice, second choice Yukon Gold. Other potatoes are too waxy or have a different starch to moisture content.
- If you’re struggling to cut the potatoes to make the sandwich, try lining a chopstick along the potato so when you slice down, the knife gets in contact with the chopstick, stopping you from cutting all the way down.
- Make sure to soak the sliced potatoes in very warm and salted water for about an hour. This helps them soften up just a bit so they’re less likely to break when you fill them.
- Do not add the egg to the meat mixture until it has completely cooled to room temperature. Otherwise, you run the risk of cooking the egg. The egg works as a binder so the beef doesn’t crumble out of the potato.
- When dredging the stuffed potatoes, try to keep one hand for dipping in the dry ingredients like the flour and your other hand for the wet egg wash. This will help prevent your hands from being covered in mushy dough.
- Add seasoning to your flour, especially if you use traditional plain breadcrumbs over Italian breadcrumbs! I like to add a bit of salt, paprika, garlic, and black pepper. You can also add dried parsley, cilantro, mint, and any other spices you like.
- If choosing to dip in tomato sauce, you can either buy your favorite from the store that’s already seasoned or make your own at home. I like to add some black pepper, ginger, oregano, and a little basil.
- If you prefer to stuff these with raw meat and then cook, this recipe works just as well but it is not my preference.
- Some other spices/ingredients that I add to the ground beef not included in the recipe:
- Cayenne pepper if you want a bit of spiciness
- Onion powder or you can add fresh onions too
- Tomato paste
- To the egg mixture:
- You can add some turmeric if you’d like a more golden color to your embattan
- You can also add some salt
- Make sure to add your eggs for dipping into a shallow large bowl rather than a small. It makes it a lot easier to coat when the egg wash is not too deep.
- If you like more crispy embattan, coat the whole thing in breadcrumbs.