Maakouda Batata: Moroccan Potato Cakes

A stack of potato cakes, also known as potato pancakes.

Petr Štěpánek/Getty Images

  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Chilling Time: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 15 potato cakes (serves 15)

Maakouda batata are Moroccan potato cakes or fritters. They're a popular street food in Morocco, where they might be eaten plain or used as a sandwich filler in wedges of Moroccan khobz. They can also be served as an appetizer or as a side.

This version is well-seasoned with sauteed onions, garlic, cilantro, and cumin. Turmeric is optional. Use it if you'd like to add appetizing color to the potato cakes. 

Although maakouda is traditionally prepared with mashed potatoes, some prefer the texture and appearance of grated potatoes as described in this recipe. This method requires time for chilling the cooked potatoes, so if you're in a hurry, you may prefer to make the more traditional mashed potato variation of maakouda, or a different famous Moroccan dish.

Yields about 15 3-inch potato cakes or one large 12-inch maakouda.


  • 1 kilogram or 2 pounds potatoes (about 5 medium)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic (pressed)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • Olive oil (for frying)

Steps to Make It

Ahead of Time

  1. Select same-sized potatoes. Peel the potatoes and place in a pot. Cover with salted water and boil just until a sharp knife can be inserted halfway through the potatoes.

  2. Drain the potatoes and plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again, and allow to cool a bit. Chill the potatoes, covered, in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Make the Potato Cakes

  1. Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add the onions and saute them gently over medium-low heat for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and saute just a minute more, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.

  2. Grate the chilled potatoes into a mixing bowl. Gently toss in the spices, onions, garlic, and cilantro. Stir in enough of the eggs to bind the potatoes, but not so much that there is excess egg in the bottom of the bowl.

  3. Shape the potato mixture into cakes about 3 inches in diameter. Wet hands will make the mixture easier to handle.

  4. Heat enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom of a skillet or griddle. Add the potato cakes and cook slowly over medium heat, about 5 to 10 minutes per side, until deep golden brown.

  5. Alternatively, press all of the potato mixture into hot oil in a large skillet, and cook as a single large maakouda. To turn, gently loosen the maakouda all around with a spatula. Place a large plate over the frying pan, and turn both the plate and frying pan upside down. Add a little more oil to the frying pan and carefully slide the potato cake back into the pan to cook the bottom half.

  6. Serve the maakouda warm.