Photo credit Shimi Aaron

The Libyan Jewish Meat and Potato Recipe You Are Going to Crave This Winter

Mafrum is the dish you want to eat on cold winter nights.

Mafrum is a Jewish Libyan dish of potato stuffed with spiced ground beef, then simmered in a tomato sauce. It is traditionally eaten on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. 

The Libyan kitchen is a mix of Arabic and Mediterranean food, with a strong Italian influence. But since the early 1950s, when the vast majority of Libyan Jews immigrated to Israel, mafrum has evolved. It quickly became very popular in Israel, where it has been interpreted by Jews from different countries, such as Tunisia, Morocco and even Egypt.

I grew up on this dish. My late grandmother used to make it for holidays and it’s one of my family’s favorite dishes for Shabbat. My mom serves it over couscous with a side of tahini sauce and a finely chopped vegetable salad.

My interpretation of mafrum is a little bit different, mostly because in the original recipe you only use tomato paste for the sauce. I love fresh tomatoes, which is why I use them as a base for my sauce. They make the sauce a bit richer, and put a new spin on it. Sometimes, to make the dish a little lighter, I replace the traditional potato with eggplant, which is my favorite vegetable. But it is the potato version that I want to cook and eat on cold winter nights. I serve it the same way my mom does: the tahini sauce is perfect, the salad brings freshness, and if you squeeze fresh lemon on top of it all, you’re basically in heaven.

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Libyan Jewish meat and potatos
Photo credit Shimi Aaron


This Libyan Jewish meat and potatoes dish is a hearty and complete meal.

  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x


  • 4 white medium-size potatoes
  • water
  • salt

For the stuffing: 

  • ¾ lb (400 g) ground beef (80% lean, but not more)
  • one bunch of parsley, washed and chopped
  • 1 medium onion,1 medium onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 egg yolk (save the white – see below)
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  For the coating:   

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs + the leftover egg white from the stuffing
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp salt
  • oil, for frying

  For the sauce:   

  • 2 large onion, sliced into rings (super thin – on a mandolin, if available)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, grated
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pinch of ground nutmeg

⅓ cup oil, for frying


  • Author: Shimi Aaron
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Libyan

4 responses to “The Libyan Jewish Meat and Potato Recipe You Are Going to Crave This Winter”

  • Ok, let us start this off by letting you know I am not Jewish butI have many Jewish friends of all nationalities and I LOVE Jewish food, but I confess I am a gentile. But I want to make this dish! and the instructions assume (apparently) some knowledge I do not have, being goyim and alll. Help??? Video maybe??? I want to learn!!!

  • I am not Jewish, but I have many Jewish friends and love the food! this sounds so delicious, and I will make it for my family! Shalom!

  • I find this so interesting. I was never aware of Jewish Libyan cuisine. Jewish Diaspora is so amazing especially coming from a Jewish Southerner.

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