Every Friday afternoon, the entire student body of Vaucluse Primary School would walk up the hill to Christison Park, a huge green reserve high atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We would play cricket or softball or run around the grass, under the shadow of the splendid white Macquarie Lighthouse, Australia’s first and oldest navigational site. (Built in 1818, it is still in use guiding boats into the Sydney Harbour.) Never very athletic, I still remember the burning in my chest that resulted from all that physical exertion.
After dismissal, my older brother Rafi and I would walk down Old South Head Road to my grandparents house in Rose Bay.
My grandmother would have steaming pots of kubbe and stew and rice on her stovetop ready for the Friday night meal. But she would also have food for my uncle Efrem, my aunt Sophie and us to nibble on, in the meantime. There were freshly washed leaves of romaine lettuce, cucumbers, celery and carrots. There were Arnott’s potato chips and cans of raspberry soda. Most delicious of all were her Aruk, golden-green fried Iraqi herb and potato patties.
Aruk are full of Italian parsley, cilantro, scallions and onions. The potatoes are boiled in their skins and mashed. Sometimes, ground beef, ground lamb or finely chopped chicken breast are added. But I love to keep the ingredients vegetarian.
Shallow frying results in a fragrant, crispy, golden fritter, with a creamy potato center. They taste amazing hot and are pretty good at room temperature the next day.
We hope you add them to your culinary repertoire.
3 russet potatoes
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
Two eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup green scallions, finely chopped
1 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 cup baby spinach, finely chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
Boil potatoes in their skin until fork tender.
Cool, then roughly mash in a big bowl.
Add onions, eggs, flour, scallions, parsley, spinach and all the spices.
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
Fill a nonstick frying pan with vegetable oil and heat over medium high.
Rub your hands with additional oil and shape mixture into 3 inch patties.
Place patties Into the hot oil and fry until they are a deep golden brown.
Serve hot or cold with your choice of dipping sauces.