Friday afternoons are always the most rushed time of the week for me. It’s all about the last minute preparations for Shabbat. A pit stop at Pavillions for the strawberries I forgot to buy at the other three markets I shopped at that week. A visit to Starbucks to pick up a venti Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew. A quick photo shoot of Rachel’s exquisite Shabbat food (always shared on our Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on our Facebook page Sephardic Spice SEC FOOD).
Most Friday afternoons, I stop at my parents home to drop a challah, a dessert or a bunch of roses. In my mother’s kitchen, there is always a mound of “ktzitzot,” crispy fried patties. Depending on her mood, these patties are made with ground chicken or beef or completely vegetarian. She always include lots of onion, parsley, cilantro and leek. Depending how hungry I am, I grab one or two. The crispy texture and spice profile always reminds me of my grandmother’s “aruk,” the Iraqi ground beef, herb and potato version of “ktzizot” or latkes that she lovingly prepared every Friday afternoon.
I am not as faithful to this Iraqi Friday lunch tradition. I make meat patties only when the mood strikes. But whenever I do, I wish that I made them more often. The beauty of these delicious little patties is that the herbs and finely chopped onions make a small amount of meat go a long way.
As with all my recipes, I take shortcuts. With this recipe that means no frying—I simply lay the patties on a greased baking sheet and broil them. I also substitute the mashed potato with a half cup of potato starch, which makes the patties impossibly light and creamy, saving the step of boiling and mashing the potatoes. Instead of measuring out each spice individually, I just use a generous helping of shawarma spices. The combination of coriander, cumin, turmeric, sweet paprika, allspice and garlic powder gives a wonderful warmth and aromatic flavor. Pereg Brand from Israel makes one that is indispensable for Sephardic cooking.
Cooking with fresh herbs is a wonderful way to load food with nutrition and flavor. Rachel and I love to include Italian parsley and cilantro in practically every recipe. Well, Rachel includes both, I’m mostly a parsley girl because I inherited the “cilantro tastes like soap gene!” But over the years, I’ve learned to coexist with cilantro.
We soak our herbs in a cool water bath, then rinse with more cold water. We dry them completely before chopping in one pass with a very sharp knife.
When you make these patties, be sure to knead all the ingredients thoroughly to melt the fat in the ground beef and to incorporate all the spices and herbs. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for half an hour, then briefly knead again. Make sure to rub the palms of your hands with oil, the form small flat round patties.
These little “ktzitzot” taste incredible straight out of the oven, served with salad, hummus, pickles and fresh pita.
These little “ktzitzot” taste incredible straight out of the oven, served with salad, hummus, pickles and fresh pita. Perfect for a midweek dinner because after all, Friday afternoon is all about the hustle. — Sharon
(Makes between 12-18 ktitzot)
Avocado or vegetable oil for greasing
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, grated
1 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup potato starch
1 large egg
3 teaspoons shawarma spice mix
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, herbs, potato starch, egg and spices.
- Knead ingredients for two to three minutes until the mixture is soft and creamy.
- Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Grease a baking sheet and set the oven to broil.
- Reknead the meat mixture and form into 3 inch flat patties.
- Drizzle a small amount of oil over the patties, then sprinkle a dash of shawarma spices over the patties.
- Place in middle of the oven and cook until meat is browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Rachel Sheff and Sharon Gomperts have been friends since high school. They love cooking and sharing recipes. They have collaborated on Sephardic Educational Center projects and community cooking classes. Find recipe video clips and recipes on Instagram SEPHARDIC SPICE GIRLS and Facebook SEPHARDIC SPICE SEC FOOD.