Appetizers · Finger Foods · Libyan · North African

A Fried, Potato Sandwich – Libyan Imbattin

One of the best parts of Libyan cuisine is imbattin. Imbattin consists of a spicy ground beef filling, nestled between two slices of potato, dipped in a tomato-infused batter and fried. Individually, all those things are delicious. Combined, it is the ultimate comfort food! I usually make this once every 2-3 months since I absolutely hate frying anything. But every time I make it, I always wonder why I don’t make it more often. Maybe investing in a small, countertop deep-fryer would be the remedy to my problems?

imbattin_framed.PNG

My mom probably made this once a month when I was growing up, usually for a dinner party. It was always a hit with our guests and imbattins made the best leftovers! After I moved out, my mother would freeze a tupperware full of imbattin for me to pack in my suitcase to fly home with me and I would reheat two pieces each day to accompany a bowl of soup until I ran out. Then I would be sad for a day or two.

There are several versions of imbattin in Libya. Based on a non-scientific survey (i.e. eating at my friends’ homes), my family’s version is not the mainstream technique of preparation. I think the main problem that leads people to use the other version is that if the potatoes aren’t sliced thin enough, the potato won’t cook completely during the frying process. So most recipes use a simple batter around the sides of the imbattin, possibly dip the battered sides in bread crumbs, fry the imbattin, then place them in a baking dish, drizzle with a tomato sauce and finish them off by baking in the oven. Two problems: way too many steps and they aren’t crispy. My version is faster since it only involves frying, which also results in a crispier imbattin!

Anyway, try imbattin. You’ll be in love and wish you had made a double batch for dinner.

Ingredients (12-15 pieces):

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • oil for frying
  • For the filling:
    • 3/4 lb ground beef
    • 1/2 bunch parsley
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
    • 1 Tablespoon paprika (sweet, not smoked)
    • 1/2 teaspoon  Libyan bzaar spice mix (if you don’t have any, use Arabic 7-spice and a pinch of turmeric)
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional; add more if you like it spicy!)
    • 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
    • black pepper
  • For the batter:
    • 3 eggs
    • 3 Tablespoons tomato sauce
    • 5-7 Tablespoons flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • black pepper

Start out by washing the parsley well. Remove the stems and place them in your food processor. Rough chop the onion into a few pieces and add them to the food processor. Pulse the food procesor until the mixture looks finely chopped. You don’t want to over process the mixture; otherwise, you’ll end up making it into a watery slop. You could also chop all of this by hand, but let’s be honest, it’s too much work!

Empty the contents of the food processor into the bowl. Add your ground beef, egg, olive oil, bread crumbs, spices, salt and pepper. Mix it well with a spatula or be authentic and use your hand.

You want to use medium sized potatoes in order to get decent-sized imbattins. I like potatoes about the size of the palm of my hand (see image below). Peel the potatoes and get your mandolin slicer out. I find the mandolin to be so useful for this. It’s safer than using a sharp knife, you can get thin slices of potato and every slice will be the same exact thickness. This will ensure the slices will cook all the way through when you fry them. Using the mandolin and the safety holder, slice the potatoes to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. Be sure to use the safety holder to hold the potato since it protects your fingers from the mandolin’s blade. If you don’t have a mandolin slicer, there are some inexpensive ones available out there. I found my mandolin slicer at Home Goods for under $15. My mandolin slicer even folds in half so it’s compact for storage.  There are so many uses for a mandolin, so it’s worth the investment. For example, I use the mandolin for making super thin zucchini slices as a substitute for lasagna noodles when I’m attempting to be healthy!

After slicing the potatoes, pair them off into similar sized pairs. You will have a variety of sizes, so the matched pair doesn’t have to be perfect…just similar is good enough.

img_7203

Now it’s time to make potato sandwiches! Hold a slice of potato in your hand and, with your other hand, take some of the filling mixture and smooth it over the potato. I usually just place a blob of the filling in the center of the potato slice and smooth it out across the potato. Once you have enough filling, top it off with the matching slice of potato from the original pair. The thickness of the filling should be slightly thicker than a single slice of the potato. Place the potato sandwich on a plate. And repeat this until you’ve used up all of the potato pairs. If you have filling leftover, you can peel and slice another potato.

In an empty bowl, whisk together the eggs, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Next, add 5 tablespoons of flour to the bowl and whisk them in until smooth. It’ll start out lumpy, but just keep whisking and will it smoothen out. If the batter isn’t thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, whisk in more flour until the consistency is thick enough.

We’re almost done! Heat up the oil in a deep frying pan or a cast iron pan, whatever your preference. You’ll want the oil to be about 1-1.5 inches deep in the pan. Heat the oil over medium heat until it’s hot enough for frying. As you are waiting for the oil to heat up, line a platter or sheet pan with several sheets of paper towels. We’ll use these to absorb excess oil from the imbattin after frying.

Dip each potato sandwich in the batter, making sure to coat the top, bottom and sides. Very careful place the sandwich into the frying pan. Crowd the pan to ensure the oil doesn’t overheat as you are frying, which will ensure your potato slices have enough time to cook through all the way. You will need to fry the imbattin until they are a golden brown color, then flip and fry the other side. I usually need about 4-5 minutes per side. Once both sides are fried, remove the imbattin and place on the paper towel lined platter or pan. Repeat until you’ve fried all the imbattins.  If you run out of batter before you finish frying, just make a little more to finish off the remaining imbattins…one egg, ~2 Tbs flour, 1 Tbs tomato sauce, salt and pepper.

After allowing the imbattins a few minutes to drain on the paper towels, you can move the imbattins to a serving platter or keep them in a warm oven until you are ready to serve them. Serve as a side dish or with a delicious bowl of Libyan soup. Enjoy!

img_7234.jpg

Libyan Imbattin

  • Servings: 12-15 pieces
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Libyan imbattin is a spicy beef mixture, nestled between potato slices, dipped in batter and fried. Basically, it's a fried, potato sandwich!

Ingredients

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • oil for frying
  • For the filling:
    • 3/4 lb ground beef
    • 1/2 bunch parsley
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
    • 1 Tablespoon paprika (sweet, not smoked)
    • 1/2 teaspoon  Libyan bzaar spice mix (if you don’t have any, use Arabic 7-spice and a pinch of turmeric)
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional; add more if you like it spicy!)
    • 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
    • black pepper
  • For the batter:
    • 3 eggs
    • 3 Tablespoons tomato sauce
    • 5-7 Tablespoons flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • black pepper

Directions

  1. Start out by washing the parsley well. Remove the stems and place them in your food processor.
  2. Rough chop the onion into a few pieces and place them in the food processor.
  3. Pulse the food procesor until the mixture looks finely chopped. You don’t want to over process the mixture, otherwise you’ll end up making it into a watery slop. Alternatively, you could chop all of this by hand.
  4. Empty the contents of the food processor into the bowl. Add your ground beef, olive oil, egg, bread crumbs, spices, salt and pepper. Mix it well with a spatula or be authentic and use your hand.
  5. Peel the potatoes and setup a mandolin slicer out. Using the mandolin slicer and the safety device to hold the ptoato, slice the potatos to a thickness of about 1/4-inch thick. It is imperative to use the safety holder to hold the potato since it protects your fingers from the mandolin’s blade. If you don’t have a mandolin slicer, you need to very careful slice the potatoes with a sharp knife.
  6. After slicing the potatoes, pair them off into similar sized pairs. You will have a variety of sizes, so the matched pair doesn’t have to be perfect…just similar is good enough.
  7. Take a slice of potato in one hand and, with your other hand, take some of the filling mixture and smooth it across the potato slice. I usually just place a blob of the filling in the center of the potato slice and smooth it out across the potato. Once you have enough filling, top it off with the matching slice of potato from the original pair. The thickness of the filling should be slightly thicker than a single slice of the potato. Place the potato sandwich on a plate. And repeat this until you’ve used up all of the potato pairs. If you have filling leftover, you can peel and slice another potato.
  8. In an empty bowl, whisk together the eggs, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Next, add 5 tablespoons of flour to the bowl and whisk them in until smooth. It’ll start out lumpy, but just keep whisking and will it smoothen out. If the batter isn’t thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, whisk in more flour until the consistency is thick enough.
  9. Heat up the oil in a deep frying pan or a cast iron pan, whatever your preference. You’ll want the oil to be about 1-1.5 inches deep in the pan. Heat the oil over medium heat until it’s hot enough for frying. As you are waiting for the oil to heat up, line a platter or sheet pan with several sheets of paper towels. We’ll use these to absorb excess oil from the imbattin after frying.
  10. Dip each potato sandwich in the batter, making sure to coat the top, bottom and sides. Very carefully, place the sandwich into the frying pan. Crowd the pan to ensure the oil doesn’t overheat as you are frying, which will ensure your potato slices have enough time to cook through all the way. You will need to fry the imbattin until they are a golden brown color, then flip and fry the other side. I usually need about 4-5 minutes per side. Once both sides are fried, remove the imbattin and place on the paper towel lined platter or pan. Repeat until you’ve fried all the imbattins.
  11. After allowing the imbattins a few minutes to drain on the paper towels, you can move the imbattins to a serving platter or keep them in a warm oven until you are ready to serve them. Serve as a side dish or with a delicious bowl of Libyan soup.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s