Batata Harra – How do you like your potatoes? Baked, fried, mashed? Would you like to try them with a punch of flavors like garlic… warm spices like red chili flakes, and turmeric… handfuls of different herbs like cilantro, parsley and dill, along with a good splash of fresh lemon?
Give your regular humble potatoes an exotic make over. Try this Lebanese batata harra, and enjoy the tastes and flavors of the Middle East!
I grew up eating potatoes in everything and anything. Mostly always spiced up, sometimes tempered just by themselves, sometimes mixed with other vegetables or meats. Curried, stewed, fried… you ask for it, it’s there!
So when I came across these Lebanese spiced potatoes, I was all itching to try them. And, boy, though we have something similar in Indian cuisine, I was blown over by the simple yet in your face flavors. All you need is a few basic ingredients you usually have in the pantry.
What is Batata Harra?
This is a popular Lebanese side dish frequently that finds its place in their elaborate mezze or appetizer spreads. Though it’s Lebanese in origin, it is very widely known in many other Levantine and Middle Eastern countries, with little variations in ingredients or methods or even the level of hotness.
Batata harra, sometimes spelled batata harrah, is an Arabic phrase literally meaning hot or spicy potatoes. This side dish can be served as an appetizer and also and goes wonderfully with their meats and mains. It can even be your little herbed and spiced salad.
It’s actually nothing but a little twist on your regular roasted or fried potatoes created by mixing them with a special sauce of garlic, spices and herbs.
When the potatoes get coated with this saucy mixture, you will notice that distinct little heat from chilies, and the freshness and brightness from all the herbs and lemon juice.
- Potatoes – The star.
- Extra virgin olive oil – The base for the sauce.
- Garlic – Mmm, sounding good already!
- Lemon juice – Freshly squeezed.
- Spices – Coriander seeds, turmeric powder and red chili flakes.
- Fresh herbs – Cilantro, parsley and dill. Lots!
- Salt and Pepper – To taste.
How to Cook the Potatoes
You will be cooking the potatoes first, before mixing and coating them with the harra sauce. Then there are 3 cooking methods you can use:
Boil and fry. This is the guilt free way of cooking your potatoes, as it reduces the fat and calorie count. We make it this way quite often. Put your potatoes into a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium.
They usually cook in 10-20 minutes, depending on the size, but check frequently by poking with a knife. You want them cooked, but not falling apart.
Once the potatoes are boiled, let them cool enough to handle (this can be sped up by running cold water over them in a colander) and chop into bite sized pieces. Then shallow fry them with harra sauce.
Double Fry. This is the most traditional Lebanese way of cooking the potatoes for harra. Peel and cut potatoes into bite sized pieces. In a large frying pan, heat ½ inch cooking oil over high heat.
Add potatoes and fry them until they are a nice crispy golden brown. Then, either in a separate pan, or the same pan drained of oil, shallow fry with harra sauce. (This is my favorite method)
Roast and Toss. First, peel and cut. Then coat the potatoes with olive oil and salt and place on a sheet pan. Roast them in an oven, preheated to 450°F, for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Toss with the harra sauce.
How to Make the Sauce
EASY!! Crush your coriander seeds (I use my mortar and pestle) and chop your garlic and herbs. Then just sauté garlic, crushed coriander seeds, crushed red chili flakes and turmeric powder in extra virgin olive oil for a minute or two over medium high heat. Add in fresh lemon juice.
Now you are ready to add the cooked potatoes and half of your fresh chopped herbs. Toss and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve and garnish with more cilantro, parsley, and dill.
Frequently Asked Questions
As a side dish, this goes great with any Middle Eastern mains and entrées like Shish Tawook or Kofta. It is an excellent vegetarian dish on its own. You can create an amazing mezze platter with this, along with Falafel and dips like Hummus, Moutabal and Baba Ganoush. Or just munch it as a potato salad!
You can cook your potatoes any which way you prefer ahead of time. When ready to eat, cook the harra sauce, which can be made in few minutes and toss in your cooked potatoes.
There’s no wrong answer here! Use whatever you happen to have around, of whatever your favorite variety is. Each will be a little different. I have tried Idahos, russet, Yukon gold. Experiment and let me know which you like best!
Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet over medium heat. I do not recommend freezing leftovers, as the potatoes lose their texture fairly quickly.
- Cutting Potatoes Uniformly: Ensuring your potatoes are cut into even pieces is key for consistent cooking. Bite-sized pieces are perfect as they allow for more surface area to be coated with the delicious harra sauce.
- Pre-Cooking Potatoes: Boiling potatoes before frying or roasting helps achieve that desirable soft inside and crispy outside. Just be sure not to overboil, you want them firm enough to hold up to a second cooking method.
- Adjusting the Heat: Batata Harra is known for its spiciness, which comes from the red chili flakes. Feel free to adjust the amount of chili to suit your taste. Start with less if you’re sensitive to heat and add more if you crave that extra kick.
- Don’t Skimp on the Herbs: This dish benefits greatly from the generous use of cilantro, parsley, and dill. These herbs add layers of freshness that balance the spices beautifully. If you’re not fond of one of these herbs, feel free to substitute or adjust proportions to your liking.
Another brilliant idea… Try your regular French fries coated with this harra sauce… it’s YUMMO!!
Get ready to try these new flavors on your every day potatoes, guys! I assure you it’s so addictive you will come back for more! While you’re here, be sure to check out my roundups of Potato Recipes and Mediterranean Recipes.
Lebanese Batata Harra, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 6 potatoes
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
- 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, divided
- 1 cup fresh dill, divided
- 1 cup fresh parsley, divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the potatoes
Cook according to your preferred method below.
- Put your potatoes in a large pan and cover with cold water.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Do not cover.
- Check frequently by poking with a knife. They should be cooked but not falling apart. About 10-20 minutes, depending on size
- Once cool enough to handle, peel and cut into bit sized pieces.
- In a large frying pan, heat 1/2 inch cooking oil over high heat.
- Peel potatoes and cut into bite sized pieces.
- Add potatoes and fry them until they are a nice crispy golden brown.
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Peel potatoes and cut into bite sized pieces.
- Coat chopped potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a sheet pan.
- Place in oven and roast 30 minutes, turning half way through.
For the harra:
- Crush coriander seeds and chop garlic and herbs.
- Heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat.Add garlic, coriander seeds, turmeric and red chili flakes. Satué 1-2 minutes.
- Add potatoes, lemon juice, and half cup each of dill, cilantro and parsley. Toss well.
- Serve garnished with remaining herbs.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 234Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 0mgSodium 75mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 5gSugar 2gProtein 5g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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