One of the most unique things about the Lebanese kitchen is the diversity of its flavors, especially those in its exquisite appetizers and side dishes. I grew up going to Lebanon every summer and when we went out to restaurants they'd always serve appetizer dishes known as "mezze." These dishes range from dips to fried pastries, cold salads, and an array of mini hot meals including one of my favorites: Lebanese spiced potatoes (batata harra).
I love potatoes so my love for batata harra is no surprise. After all, what's better than a plate of fried potato cubes infused with cilantro and garlic? Pretty much nothing at all. This potato recipe is so easy to make but packed with flavor. I always used to order this dish when I went out to Lebanese restaurants. But I promise you this homemade version takes things to the next level.
- Potatoes: I par-boil these whole and then cube them before frying to ensure that they're perfectly cooked when I serve them.
- Vegetable oil: To fry the potatoes.
- Fresh cilantro: The absolute star of this dish. Some people also use parsley along with it while others use other kinds of herbs alone. I recommend that you stick to coriander no matter what variation you're using.
- Garlic: A few cloves add the most incredible flavor here.
- Salt and Pepper
Tips and Tricks
- Boil the potatoes for a few minutes before frying. This is a super important step that will guarantee you'll get perfectly cooked cubes when you serve.
- Add the flavorings and seasonings towards the end. I add the coriander and garlic during the last minute of frying so that they'll just slightly cook. This allows the flavors to blend together without the risk of getting a burnt herb or garlic flavor.
Options for Cooking The Potatoes
There are several ways to make this dish, here are the three that are most popular:
Double frying: In Lebanon, this is the most popular way to prepare this dish. Basically, you can fry the potatoes alone then set them aside, prep a coriander, olive oil, and garlic sauce, and add the potatoes back in the frying pan again to get them all crunchy and crisp.
Parboiling and frying: This is the method I use. It ensures you get the same crunch and crispiness as the double-fried version minus all the extra fat. Basically, I boil the potatoes for a few minutes, then fry them and add the flavorings to mix everything together.
Roast: You can also simply roast the potatoes in the oven and then stir fry them in a little bit of oil and flavorings.
Variations of Spices and Flavorings
I've made batata harra countless times and experimented using different spices each time. Here are ones I found work most with it (each on its own along with the oil, garlic and coriander):
- Cumin: Just a dash gives this a pretty cool twist.
- Paprika: My favorite addition to these. It gives it a mild spicy flavor that's subtle.
- Red chili pepper: If you love extra spicy flavors, this is great to add.
- Jalapeño: Just a few pieces add a little kick.
- Red or green pepper: These add perfect spice and sweetness to balance things out.
Ways To Eat Batata Harra
- I love serving these spiced potatoes with some garlic labneh (Labneh b Toum) drizzled with olive oil.
- I know friends who serve batata harra with a wide array of hot and cold mezze dishes. These include cold salads like fattoush and tabbouleh and hot dishes like fried za'atar and cheese rolls and Lebanese sausages (makanek).
- Where I come from in North Lebanon, we serve batata harra alongside fried fish and it's super popular with seafood in general.
- Always serve these up with a few lemon wedges on the side. They taste absolutely wonderful with a little lemony flavor.
- I also once tried it drizzled with a little bit of olive oil, coriander, and garlic (raw) and it turned out so good (it also gave it a fresh kick).