Chile Pepper

Einat Admony's Aruk

by:
May 14, 2021
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Photo by Quentin Bacon
Author Notes

Friday lunches in traditional Jewish households are light, easy to fix, and often meatless, to leave room for the substantial Shabbat meals that lie ahead. So in Jewish Iraqi homes, you'll often find these fragrant, golden-green latkes made with loads of fresh herbs, because they come together with minimal effort. Unlike the more familiar and labor-intensive Ashkenazi latkes, made with raw grated potato, these use mashed, precooked potatoes, resulting in crispy patties with a soft interior.

The first aruk I ever ate were cooked by Berta, the Iraqi mother of one of my army friends. I went to her house for lunch and was blown away by how delicious her aruk were.

I bake my potatoes, rather than boil them, because I like the richer, more potatoey flavor. The drier texture makes the latkes fluffier too.

Reprinted from Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking (Artisan Books) by Einat Admony & Janna Gur.

Hear Einat Admony on the elaborate Shabbat meals her mom prepared throughout Einat's childhood on our new food-meets-music culture podcast Counterjam.Food52

  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6 (makes about 24 patties)
Ingredients
  • Aruk
  • 3 medium russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds / 680 grams total)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) chopped scallions
  • 3/4 cup (30 grams) chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup (30 grams) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baharat, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable or olive oil, for frying
  • Red Pepper and Chile Tahini Sauce, for serving
  • Red Pepper and Chile Tahini Sauce
  • 2 large red bell peppers, roasted, cored, seeded, and peeled
  • 1 medium Fresno or other medium-hot fresh red chile, roasted, cored, seeded, and peeled
  • 1 cup best-quality raw tahini
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 cup ice water
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Aruk
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake the potatoes in their skins until completely soft when poked with a skewer or thin knife, about an hour. Let them cool on the counter.
  3. Scoop out the cooled potato flesh and roughly mash in a large bowl. Grate the onion into another large bowl. Squeeze out as much moisture as you can, and then add the onion to the potatoes. Add the eggs, flour, scallions, parsley, cilantro, cumin, paprika, baharat, salt, and several twists of pepper and mix thoroughly. If you have time, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (this will stabilize the texture).
  4. Line a tray or plate with two layers of paper towels. Fill a large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil to a depth of 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) and heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  5. While the oil is heating, rub your hands with additional oil and shape the potato mixture into patties about 2 1/2 inches (6 centimeters) across. Working in batches, add the patties to the hot oil and fry until they are deep golden-green and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to the paper towels to drain. Repeat to cook the remaining patties.
  6. Serve hot or warm, with red pepper tahini sauce. Aruk latkes are best fresh out of the skillet, but you can keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for a day; reheat them at 350°F (175°C) for 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. Tip: To speed things up, you can pulse the herbs and the onion in a food processor until they are finely chopped.
  1. Red Pepper and Chile Tahini Sauce
  2. Put bell peppers and chile in food processor or blender, add tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, and purée until completely smooth. Add honey, paprika, and salt and pulse again to blend. With motor running, slowly stream in ice water and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days.

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