Batata Hamda literally means ‘Sour Potato’ – but let’s forget about that because it’s a name that doesn’t do this dish justice. It’s a tangy chicken soup made distinctive by its gorgeous yellow colour, served with potatoes and celery. In most cases, kobeba dumplings are also added to the soup, although these are optional.
You can adjust the lemon to taste and use any type of boned chicken for the soup. It can also be served with rice and is usually eaten as a meal in itself – as well as eating it during the year, we have it before Yom Kippur because lemon is supposed to be good for thirst.
4 chicken thighs
½ cube or 1 tsp powdered chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
5 or 6 cardamom pods
1 large potato
2-3 tbsp, turmeric
2-3 sticks celery, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
½ lemon - squeezed
Peel and cut the potato into large chunks
Brown the chicken skin down in a pan so that oil is released from the skin and lightly fry off the turmeric for a few seconds
Add the potato, stock, salt, pepper, cinnamon and cardamom pods into the pan and cover with water
Simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through. In the meantime, make the dumplings
300g ground rice
Salt and pepper
200g minced beef, lamb or chicken
While the soup is cooking make the kobeba dough.
Gradually add the water to the ground rice and semolina, slowly mixing it until a firm but damp dough is formed, add more water if necessary
Cover with cling film and set aside for 10 minutes so that the water can fully absorb into the rice and semolina
Assemble the dumplings by forming flat circles of dough in the palm of your hand, placing a small amount of meat in the centre of the dough and closing your hand, pinching the top to form a ball and rolling in your hands until smooth. Wet hands will help with this
Once the chicken is cooked through, drain the soup with into another pan through a mesh cloth. This will result in a clear soup.
Set the potatoes and chicken (remove the skin) to one side
Gently simmer the dumplings in the soup for about 20-30 minutes, making sure to stir regularly so that they don’t stick. After about 15 minutes add the celery. The kobeba are done when they float
Add the juice of half a lemon
Shred the chicken and put it, with the potatoes back into the soup with the dumplings and celery
Optional: More black pepper or lemon to taste
And a little story..
While cooking Batata Hamda last night things did not quite go as planned. To be more exact, we dropped the bowl full of kobeba dough (luckily over the sink), where it promptly smashed into many little pieces. Nevertheless, we ploughed on and a quick call to the Grandma ensured us that we could make kobeba dough with just semolina. It tasted nice, if a little dense. We also realised at that point that we'd forgotten to defrost any minced meat, so we cut up one of the chicken thighs and used that as the filling instead. It was actually really delicious, if a little unorthodox!
The moral of my story? This type of traditional cooking isn't an exact science. If you don't have, or don't like an ingredient, then leave it out! Mix, match and most of all enjoy the process of producing meals for the people you love.