Traditional Pesach beef and leek patties

A popular Passover treat with Balkan heritage


Photo: Inbal Bar-Oz

If you ask me what reminds me of my childhood - it’ll be these delicate, savoury, soft and moreish patties. My nan had 4 children and 15 grandchildren, and to this day whenever anyone mentions “Kifteke de prasa” (or leek patties) you can see our eyes light up. She used to make them but not tell us in advance, because as soon as we’d heard she was making them- there will be a queue formed next to the hob in her tiny kitchen, with little grubby hands reaching again and again and again for the plate where the prepared patties would lay. There were times she’d make these with 5kg of leeks, and that still wouldn’t be enough.

Nothing else speaks Passover to me like these do. You can make them during the year as well, and substitute the matzah meal for breadcrumbs, but the matzah meal lends a slightly different texture and flavour. I have amended it ever-so-slightly with some spices to make a more current version. You are welcome to omit and just opt for salt and pepper if avoiding kitniyot over Pesach.

The salad goes beautifully with these and the preserved lemon dressing pops with zingy flavour – but is not essential. They’re also delicious dipped in harissa.

For the patties:

1.5kg of leek, white and very light green bit, thoroughly washed and chopped roughly

300g minced beef / minced chicken/ cooked potatoes (for a veggie version)

3 large eggs

40g matzah meal

½ tsp ground coriander seeds

¼ tsp ground fennel seeds

Pinch of chilli flakes

Salt, pepper

For the (optional) fennel/carrot salad:
3 bulbs of fresh fennel

5 large carrots, peeled
For the preserved lemon vinaigrette:

½ medium sized preserved lemon
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp orange juice

Fresh parsley, half a handful

Salt and pepper

80ml extra virgin olive oil


  • Cook the leeks in slightly salted water for about 30-45 minutes until very soft. Drain and allow to cool.
  • Squeeze the leeks thoroughly with your hands (one handful at a time) to remove all of the moisture. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP - this will ensure soft patties that won’t fall apart during cooking.
  • Use a meat mincer (or pulse in your food processor) until you reach a coarse texture (you can use a fork to mash it if you don’t have one). Refrain from over processing it.
  • If using potato, squash with a fork
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  • Form patties and shallow fry until cooked through and dark golden.
  • To make the carrot and fennel salad, slice the vegetables thinly, ideally in a mandolin – or grate them on a coarse grater.
  • To make the dressing: Blitz all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and pour over the sliced vegetables.

Shiri is co-owner and chef at The Black Cow and Epicurus  in Camden

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive