Mafroum – Potato Wrapped Meatballs served over Saffron Rice

A festive Tunisian dish often served with couscous. When my mother made these, I knew that special guests were arriving – ones that would appreciate the labor of love.

Shopping list for meatballs

  • 1 pack of ground beef
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 2 small onions
  • 4 garlic cloves (divided)
  • Handful of parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of Harissa hot sauce & marinade
  • 1 cup of vegetable or beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 2 whisked eggs
  • 1 cup of flour
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 cup of water
  • Salt and pepper

Shopping list for rice

  • 2 cups of rice (basmati preferred)
  • 1 cup of vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 2 cups of water
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • Salt and pepper

Meatball Recipe

In a food processor, combine 1 small onion, 2 garlic cloves, and parsley. Chop very finely and add to the ground beef in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well together. 

Peel the potatoes and cut into ½ inch thick wedges into a v shaped potato. Place the potatoes in cold water to keep them from browning. Once ready to make the meatballs, drain the potatoes and dry them with a paper towel. Take a golf ball sized of meat and stuff into the potatoes. Roll the stuffed potatoes in the flour and then the egg. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry the covered meatballs on all sides. Allow to fry until golden brown. 

Sauce Recipe

In a braising pan, add a little olive oil on medium heat. Add the sliced onion and sliced garlic cloves and stir occasionally. Add the paprika, turmeric, tomato paste, and water, then add the meatballs- cover and cook on low heat for about 45 minutes. The sauce will reduce to about half.

Rice Recipe

Take one half of the 1/4 tsp saffron threads and put them in a spice mortar or small bowl. Grind the spice with a pestle or the back of a spoon until powdery. Add the rest of the saffron but do not crush. Pour ¼ cup of hot water and let the saffron soak for a few minutes to open up the flavor and aroma. 

In the meantime, rinse the white basmati rice and drain. In a large pot, heat some olive oil and add the rinsed rice, stirring for one minute. Pour 2 ½ cups of water, 1 cup of vegetable stock, and the saffron water. Bring to a boil and stir. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low and allow to cook for about 20 minutes. Let the rice rest for about 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork before serving.