Fabulous fatira

There was a lot of good food at Sunday night’s international potluck. It was a dinner for the Venture Club kids (3rd-5th graders) and their families, and I figured there’d be a lot of North American food with International names attached, like “Hamburgers from Germany.” That sort of thing.

But that wasn’t the case. Lots of authentic digs covered the table: among other things, there was falafel, rice and beans, Swedish meatballs, spicy Indian potatoes (by yours truly), and a yucca and cheese dish. Also, there was a rather blah looking dish of Something Or Other. The only reason I noticed it was because a little girl at the front of the line dug into that bowl with such a vengeance that I was mildly alarmed. I suggested politely that perhaps she’d like to try some of the other stuff, but she just looked at me like I was crazy.

So when my turn came, I took some of the mysterious blah stuff. I mean, how could I not after that girl pounced upon it so enthusiastically? There was chopped onion and tomato and mayonnaise (mayonnaise, really? um, okay…) to put on top.

Back at my seat, I took one bite and had a fit. “What in the world is this?!” Fortunately for me (and maybe not so much for her?), the maker of the mysterious dinner was sitting right beside me. I proceeded to grill her. How? What? Why? How?

Turns out, the blah mystery dish had a name: fatira. It’s an African dish, a common street food, and it couldn’t be more basic and simple to make. (Later, I researched it briefly and learned that it’s common in many countries, or at least the name is frequently used. I’m guessing it’s kind of like enchiladas—in different countries the word means different things.)

I got seconds. So did my husband. On the way home afterwards, we both agreed that it was our favorite dish of the whole meal.

The next day I emailed for the recipe. Last night I made fatira for supper.

(There was also baked squash and green beans, lest you were worried about the lack of green.)

My two girls weren’t too stoked about the dish, but all the boys (and I) went hog wild.

And then my family endured an attack of The Crazies that I can only attribute to the fabulous fatira we had just feasted upon. All sorts of strange and wild things happened, and all to the soundtrack of My Fair Lady, no less.

There was a belly dancing boy in a blue dress:

There was a glitzy poodle-skirted and red bonneted spiderman:

There was a whirling pink dervish:

And there was an elegant damsel with a blue beauty mark and rectangular reading glasses:

They gave a stunning reenactment of the horse races at the Ascot Race Track on Opening Day, too.

I coached them in the fine art of The Dover Line: C’mon Dover! Move yer blommin’ arse! It’s best done at the top of your lungs, and with all of us yelling in unison, the house fairly rocked.

So anyway, I recommend you make fatira.

But then, watch out. All bets are off as to what will happen next.

Adapted from Cindy, a long-term missionary to Africa

Cindy claims the fatira is much better with homemade tortillas. I used bought ones, but next time I’ll make my own.

I’ve tried the fatira with ketchup and mustard, but I didn’t much like it. For me, mayonnaise is the way to go. (But some of the kids really liked it with ketchup. To each his own…)

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pound ground beef
6-8 small flour tortillas, chopped into little squares (½-inch by 1 inch, or so)
4-6 eggs, well beaten
salt and pepper, to taste

Condiments: chopped onion, chopped tomato, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard

Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil. Add the cumin and stir briefly. Add the ground beef and sauté till browned and cooked through. Add the chopped tortillas and stir for a minute. Add the beaten eggs and stir till cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

Top the fatira with the condiments of your choosing.

This same time, years previous: whoopie pies, snickerdoodles, happy birthday, Happy Pappy!


  • Anonymous

    Hey, I was ecstatic to see Fatira on your potluck list. I've been hungry for it lately and just couldn't remember what all was in it. So I tapped your link and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the amazing side effects it had on your family!

    I am assuming it was Cindy Brislen you got it from…

  • Marie M.

    The recipe sounds, hmmm, strange. But cumin is used in Mexican cooking which I love, love, love. So . . .

    Isn't it wonderful to not have a TV? I didn't have one until I was 25 — 1968. My sister and I would put records on (yes, records — this was the 1950s) and act out all the parts from all the musical comedies. We were lucky to see most of them on stage, then the movies. I know all the words by heart. Still. The poems and songs you learn so easily when young stay with you forever. Your adorable children will remember them, too.

  • Margo

    I noticed the extra blondie too!

    And this recipe, hm. Appears simple, but I love the story to go with it. I'm going to try it.

  • Anonymous

    Boy that does sound easy! I think I just may try it. Thank you.

    Your kids are so fun. I love seeing your pictures of them.

  • Jennifer Jo

    EllieS, HA! You are not mistaken—I really do have only four kids. The extra you see is my niece. She stair-steps with my kids (in age) perfectly and lives half a mile away. She fits right in to our family and I hardly even notice when she's around because the older kids take care of her completely, doting on her like she's a little princess.

  • Ellies Wonder

    Mmm sounds good! I have to admit though, that I was less interested in the recipe, and more interested in the 5th blond kid I saw in your pictures. Am I mistaken, do you have 5, not 4 kids? I have seen this little blond child looming in the corners of pictures in past posts as well. I am so curious!

  • Mama Pea

    That sounds just strange enough that I'm gonna have to try it. Besides, I've always wanted to yell, "C'mon Dover! Move yer blommin' arse!" at the top of my lungs.

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