Recipe: Stuffed and Fried Potato Wedges (Mbatan Batata)

The New Year is all about possibility, hope, health, and doing things better. That’s why I’ll be deep frying as the ball drops. But I’m not deep-frying just anything. This isn’t the state fair (where everything from butter to kool-aid makes it into the bubbling oil).

I’m in the real world.

This is a Libyan dish – one that combines the best of everything – delicate potato wedges, stuffed with wonderfully spiced meat loaded up with fresh parsley, crunchy breadcrumbs and a whole lot of yum. I can count on one hand the number times I’ve deep fried in the last couple of years, so this is a big deal. And, while it isn’t steamed veggies, it’s pretty well rounded as far as fried food goes.

Eh. Who am I kidding. This isn’t the healthiest dish in the world.

But it is a nod to mixing things up, having little Adventures, getting out of my comfort zone.

And that’s what I hope for all of us in 2012.

Note: Some Libyans like to serve these swimming in a simple tomato sauce, but I prefer to leave them crisp and dip them in the sauce instead. You can prepare this recipe days ahead and freeze them before frying, if desired.

Makes 4 dozen


3-4 large russet potatoes
2 cups breadcrumbs
3 eggs


olive oil
1 lb ground lamb or beef
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 cup water
1 cup parsley, minced
1 egg
breadcrumbs, as needed to make it pasty, not wet (about 3 Tbsp)

Tomato sauce, as desired [recipe]


This New Year I wish you a new perspective in life.

"The ancient desert town of Ghadames, Libya, is designed to fight the dramatic extremities of Saharan climate. Houses are made out of mud, lime, and palm tree trunks with covered alleyways between them to offer good shelter against summer heat." Luca Galuzzi

Today I’ll get there with a bit of stovetop travel.

First, make the stuffing. Brown the lamb in oil, breaking up the clumps as you go. Smaller pieces fit better in the potato wedges.


Then toss on the onion and garlic and cook until softened and beginning to color.

Next, add some happy mounds of ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper. Season with salt to taste.

The bottom of the pan will have a bunch of yummy browned bits – deglaze with a splash of water and set aside to cool.

Write a thank you note while you wait. Or perhaps a letter to an older family member who could use a smile.

Once lukewarm, stir in the parsley, egg, and about 3 Tbsp of breadcrumbs.

The mixture should thicken up enough to clump together.

You can refrigerate the stuffing for later or use it right away.

Peel and halve the potatoes lengthwise. Then cut half moons, about 1/4 inch thick. Slice each half moon down the middle, almost to the end. It’ll make it open up like a book.

Use your fingers to press in the filling and smooth flat. Do this to all the potatoes until the filling is gone.

You’ll have a tray full of smiles!

When done, beat the 3 eggs in a shallow bowl and add some of the breadcrumbs to another. Dip the wedges in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Do them all, setting on a cookie sheet as you go.

You can now freeze them on the cookie sheet for a couple of hours until set, then place in plastic baggies and freeze until needed. OR you can deep fry them right away.

Use 375F vegetable oil in a pot and cook in batches. Don’t crowd ‘em… When they are done, they’ll be golden brown, the potato will be tender and the filling hot. If they brown too fast before the potato can cook, drop the oil temperature.

And they’ll be ridiculously good.
Dip in tomato sauce. Eat with friends, or with an incredible view…

Dunes near Fezzan, Libya. Photo by Luca Galuzzi (


Happy days to you.

Opt In Image
Hungry for more?
Be notified when National Geographic releases my memoir.

Simply fill in your details below.


  1. Oh my gosh – these look amazing!!!!

  2. That looks beyond yummy!

  3. Oh, yummyyyy!!!!!!

  4. Sasha Martin says:

    Thanks Ladies! They were, are, and will continue to be :)

  5. CanadianLibyan says:

    Thanks so much for the Libyan recipes and all the other great recipes. I’m really enjoying your blog.
    M’baten are a huge favourite among Libyans and pretty much everyone who ever tries them. I have never heard anyone say they don’t like them lol!
    If I might offer a little variation: a typical Libyan recipe would use these ingredients to stuff them:
    very finely minced parsley and green onion
    ground cumin
    salt to taste
    a small amount of Libyan hararat, which is almost the same as “sebaa baharat” or Seven Spice, which is a commonly used Arabic spice mixture
    a finely chopped hot banana pepper, if desired, or cayenne
    tomato paste
    Put in what you think is WAYYYYY too much of the spices (except for the hot pepper and salt) and then add about a tablespoon more. You would, of course, adjust accordingly if you are making a smaller batch:-) It has been my experience that for some reason, stuffed dishes seem to need a LOT of spices and more salt than usual, otherwise they come out very bland.
    Some Libyans, as you noted above, cook them in a tomato sauce in the oven, but IMHO lol they have a nicer, crunchier texture and taste so much better fried, as unhealthy as it may be. But hey, it’s not like you’re going to eat them every day, right???


  1. […] Kusha also has a fried counterpart called Mbatan Batata. I have not tried this version yet, but Global Table Adventures has a recipe available with step by step photos. It has similar ingredients, but the meat mixture […]

Speak Your Mind