Maakouda, a beloved North African dish, is a flavorful and comforting treat that tantalizes the taste buds. These golden-brown potato cakes, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, are a popular street food and snack. With a blend of mashed potatoes, aromatic spices, and fresh herbs, maakouda offers a delightful harmony of textures and flavors. Whether enjoyed on its own or served as part of a larger meal, maakouda captures the essence of North African cuisine and is a true delight for both locals and those seeking to savor its authentic taste.
Origin and history
Maakouda, Maaqouda, maqouda or maakouda (المعقودة in Arabic), a popular North African dish, has a history deeply rooted in the culinary traditions of the Maghreb region, which includes Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Its exact origin is not pinpointed to a specific country, but rather, it’s a beloved dish across the Maghreb nations.
The name “maakouda” is thought to have Berber origins, with variations in pronunciation and spelling such as “maqouda” or “makouda” depending on the region. Maaqouda, which can be translated to “bound” or “thick”, is a potato fritter which is often prepared plain, but can also be stuffed with tuna, ground meat or even cheese.
Tips and notes
Here are some tips and notes to help you make a successful batch of maakouda:
- Select starchy or all-purpose potatoes like russet or Yukon Gold. They provide the ideal texture for maakouda.
- Cut the potatoes into evenly sized pieces to ensure even cooking.
- When boiling the potatoes, start with cold water and salt to season them. Bring them to a boil and then simmer until they’re tender. Avoid overcooking, as this can make the potatoes too mushy.
- After boiling, drain the potatoes well and allow them to cool slightly. Drier potatoes will absorb less oil when frying. The potato purée should also be somewhat dry. For that, dry the potatoes in the pan after draining and mashing them. You can also steam or bake them instead of boiling.
- It’s better to mash the potatoes with a fork or a potato masher rather than with a blender.
- Season the potatoes generously with salt, pepper, and any other preferred spices or herbs. Garlic, cumin, turmeric, paprika, red pepper flakes, and hot sauce are commonly used. You can also use your favorite seasoning.
- Maakouda needs a binding agent to hold its shape. Eggs, breadcrumbs, and flour are typically used for this purpose. Adjust the quantities to achieve the desired consistency. When you add the egg, make sure to add a little at a time.
- After mixing the ingredients, refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes. This helps the flavors meld and makes it easier to form patties. It is very important to not skip this step so that the patties won’t crumble during frying.
- In addition to the plain version, maakouda can be stuffed with a variety of fillings to add extra flavor and texture. Some common stuffings include tuna, ground meat (like beef or lamb), mortadella, salami, and cheeses like cream cheese, Edam, Havarti or Halloumi. These variations offer a different twist to the classic potato fritter, making it a more substantial and filling snack or dish.
- Heat the oil to the right temperature (usually around 350°F or 175°C). Frying at the correct temperature ensures a crispy exterior and even cooking.
- Fry the maakouda in batches, leaving enough space between each piece to allow for even frying.
- Place the cooked maakouda on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
- Traditionally, they’re deep-fried, but you can also make them in an air fryer or bake them in the oven.
- Get creative with your maakouda by experimenting with different seasonings, fillings, or shapes. You can make them larger or smaller, depending on your preference.
- You can make it healthier by using a mix of potato and spinach. You can also any other veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, cauliflower, …
In Algeria, Maakouda is served with Chorba (a soup), or Harira during the holy month of Ramadan. It can be served as an appetizer or a side dish. It is also great in a sandwich with harissa or hot sauce.
- Tater Tots ;
- Rösti ;
- Hash Brown ;
- Aloo Tikki ;
- Boxty ;
- Korokke ;
- Latkes ;
- Bramboráky ;
Maakouda: Crispy Potato Patties
- 1 kg potatoes
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp flour
- 4 tbsp parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp black pepper
- flour (1 cup, for coating)
- Oil (3 cups, for frying)
- Start by preparing the ingredients. First peel and cube the potatoes. Then, peel and mince the garlic cloves.
- Steam or boil the potatoes until they are tender enough to be easily mashed, for about 20 minutes. Drain them and let them cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, mash the boiled potatoes until smooth and free of lumps.
- Add the eggs, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, flour, chopped parsley, cumin, turmeric, salt, and pepper to the mashed potatoes. Mix everything well to combine.
- Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes. This helps the flavors meld and makes it easier to form patties.
- Take a portion of the potato mixture and shape it into a small patty, about the size of your palm (2in/5cm). Repeat with the remaining mixture.
- Dip each potato ball into the flour and turn to coat. Repeat until all the potato balls are coated in flour.
- Heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet or frying pan over medium heat.
- Carefully place the potato patties into the hot oil and fry them until they are golden brown and crispy on both sides. This should take about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Once the maakouda potato cakes are cooked and crispy, remove them from the oil and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
- Serve the maakouda hot, either as an appetizer, snack, or as part of a meal.