Mahkuda is an Algerian dish that my mother-in-law’s mother would cook up all the time. Now, my mother-in-law makes the dish during the High Holidays. I’ve taken the same ingredients but constructed it as more of a traditional tortilla-style dish, which works well served hot or cold, and with a crisp salad or some cooked meats. The addition of the cumin and harissa makes it earthy and warming with a gentle kick.
Mahkuda with Harissa
6 to 7 round red or round white potatoes
1 large or 2 medium onions, minced
1¼ cups olive oil, divided
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons Harissa ( or more if you want it hotter)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peel the potatoes, then cut in half vertically, and slice each half thinly so that you have half-moon shapes; use a mandoline slicer if you have one.
Add the potatoes to a large bowl with the onion, season with salt, and mix together to combine.
Heat all but 1 tablespoon of the oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Check the oil temperature by adding a potato; if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Turn the heat down to medium and add the rest of the potatoes and onion. Cook for 20 minutes in total, turning the ingredients over very carefully in the oil every 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft all the way through—you don’t want to fry the ingredients too quickly.
Drain the potatoes in a sieve over a bowl, reserving the oil—this has so much flavor, so you absolutely must keep it for other uses.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then mix in the harissa and cumin. Season again with salt and some black pepper and then add the drained potatoes and onion. Mix very gently to avoid breaking up the potatoes.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same skillet, add the egg and potato mixture, and cook for around 4 to 5 minutes—you want the heat medium-low here to avoid burning the bottom. Place a plate larger than the diameter of the skillet on top and very carefully invert the skillet to turn the mahkuda over onto the plate. Then return the mahkuda to the pan to cook the other side, adding in any potato that’s escaped. Tuck the edges in with a spatula, if need be, to make a nice shape.
Cook for a further 3 minutes and then repeat the turning process as before, placing the plate on top and inverting the skillet. The result should be a lovely golden mahkuda. Serve warm.
Tip: Feel free to be creative here and add olives, bell peppers, and any other Mediterranean ingredients you feel are appropriate.
Reprinted with permission from Fress by Emma Spitzer, Mitchell Beazley, 2017.
This article was originally published on April 4, 2017.
Emma Spitzer was born and raised in Brighton to Jewish parents of Polish and Russian descent. Her love of cooking started at a very early age. Her style is big, bold flavors with many different ingredients coming together on one plate. Following her success on reaching the final of BBC1’s MasterChef, Emma has been in high demand. She has been teaching cookery classes and demonstrating at food festivals, running sell-out supper clubs and catering for private dining events.