Baharat Smashed Potatoes from "Jew-ish: A Cookbook"

When most home cooks think of Jewish food, a few classics come to mind: chicken soup with matzo balls, challah, maybe a babka if you’re feeling ambitious. But as food writer and self-described “nice Jewish boy” Jake Cohen demonstrates in his stunning debut cookbook, Jew-ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch, Jewish food is so much more. 

Jake joined KATU2 on ABC to share a deliciously simple dish from his cookbook that reinvents the food of his Ashkenazi heritage and draws inspiration from his husband’s Persian-Iraqi traditions to offer recipes that are modern, fresh, and enticing for a whole new generation of readers. For more information on Jew-ish: A Cookbook, visit his website

Baharat Smashed Potatoes 

2 pounds multicolor baby potatoes, scrubbed Kosher salt 
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1 teaspoon ground sumac 
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom Schug (Green Yemeni Hot Sauce), for serving 


Plain and simple, smashed potatoes are the best potatoes. Combining the best aspects of all preparations, you boil baby potatoes for the creaminess of a baked potato, but then smash them to jack up the surface area before roasting, resulting in a level of crispiness even a french fry could not achieve. This is the only recipe that never seems to yield any leftovers, no matter how much extra I make. I personally think the magic is all in the seasoning. 

This mixture is my super-simplified recipe for baharat, an essential Arabic spice blend integral in Iraqi Jewish cooking, which combines warm spices like allspice and cardamom with sharper spices like black pepper and cumin. Every family truly has their own blend, so it’s not uncommon to find fennel seeds, rosebuds, nutmeg, chiles, or a laundry list of other aromatics present as well. It’s becoming more and more common to find jars of premixed baharat at specialty spice shops, so feel free to sub 1-1/2 tablespoons of your favorite baharat blend in lieu of the spices called for here. 

To finish off these crunchy spiced potatoes, a drizzle of schug on the finished platter helps provide the zip that makes this dish truly irresistible. 

1 Preheat the oven to 450F. 
2 Put the potatoes in a large pot and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Season the water with 2 heavy pinches of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then cook the potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, running the potatoes under cold water until they are cool enough to handle. 
3 Using the bottom of a measuring cup or glass, smash each potato on a cutting board until 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a half sheet pan, spreading the potatoes out in an even layer. 
4 In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pepper, sumac, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and a heavy pinch of salt. Drizzle the spiced oil over the smashed potatoes and gently toss to coat. 
5 Roast the potatoes, flipping them once halfway through, for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. 
6 Transfer the potatoes to a platter, drizzle with schug, and serve. 

by Cassandra Cook

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