Begedil are delicious fried potato patties with a meltingly soft middle that is a popular side dish in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Table of contents
Begedil History, anyone?
So where is begedil from? It owes its origin to the Dutch, apparently, but via the Danes maybe?
As I briefly mention in this article on Malacca over at LinsFood, the Dutch occupied Malacca from mid 17th century to early 19th century for almost 200 years.
They also occupied Indonesia for over 100 years from the early 19th century to the Japanese occupation in 1941.
As you can imagine, this would have left an impression on the local cultures and food. And it is this influence that purportedly gave rise to begedil, as it’s known in Singapore and Malaysia and perkedel in Indonesia.
Frikadel, Frikadeller, Frikkadel?
So begedil and the Indonesian perkedel are thought to be a Dutch heritage, based on frikadel.
But for the life of me, I’ve never come across the word frikadel in the Netherlands, only perkedel in Indonesian restaurants and frikandel, a local sausage, mostly eaten as a snack in bars, with nary a potato to be had in it. None of my Dutch friends has ever heard of the word either.
But the Danes have frikadeller, a slightly flattened meatball. Could the mystical Dutch frikadel be based on the Danish meatball?
If you go back far enough, you’ll see that the Vikings controlled Frisia (the Netherlands was part of it) in the 9th century. So perhaps that’s where the legacy is from? Your guess is as good as mine. If you know better, either way, drop me a comment and educate me!
What is interesting is that a similar meat patty exists in South Africa, known as frikkadel. And we all know the Dutch spent a lot of time is South Africa, don’t we? The plot thickens.
But let’s talk recipe, shall we?
Today’s begedil recipe is the simple mashed potato variety. There are in fact all sorts of begedil available:
- begedil kentang (potato begedil, today’s recipe)
- begedil ayam (with chicken)
- begedil daging (with meat – beef or lamb)
- begedil jagung (with corn)
And so on.
Incidentally, the word Begedil (old spelling, Bergedil) is a Malay word, not Malaysian. Malay is the language, Malaysian is the nationality, ie the colour of your passport.
Perkedel is the Indonesian word for this patty. Which is both the language and nationality!
It is very, very easy to cook begedil at home. This is what we’ll be doing:
- Peel and cut the potatoes into cubes or slices.
- Boil the cubes or deep fry the slices (I’ll give you both methods).
- Mash the cooked potatoes and add flavourings.
- Form into balls and chill the potato mixture in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Dip in beaten egg and fry.
That’s it. Easy, right?
To Boil or To Fry?
So we pre cook the potatoes before mashing them, seasoning and shaping. Some people like to fry the potatoes for an added depth of flavour.
Let’s face it, fried food is always good! I tend to boil the potatoes because they’re going to be fried again later once shaped. My mind and taste cannot cope with the idea of double fried begedil. That’s just too much oil for my liking. We’re also using fried shallots, don’t forget.
You don’t have to worry about the boiled potatoes producing inferior patties, because all you have to do is season them well. With the aromatics and the shallots.
I’ve given you both methods in the recipe card below, try them both if you don’t mind double fried. Once in a while, it’s no big deal, right?
We don’t use a whole lot of ingredients to make begedil, and they are also very simply flavoured.
You can use the recipe here as your foundation and build it up as you like, with meat, chillies and other flavours. I’ll give you suggestions below, under the header “Variations”.
Naturally, we need potatoes. Generally speaking, you want waxy potatoes that hold their shape when boiling. Having said that, whatever potatoes you have at hand will work in this recipe.
I’ve used both waxy and floury potatoes, and because we chill the formed patties before frying, they’ll hold their shape.
But the floury potatoes will a produce slightly softer middle.
We chop up our potatoes into little chunks for boiling, or slices for frying.
I’m keeping it simple here, with just some chopped up fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) and spring onions (scallion). These 2 herbs are the traditional choice when cooking these Singaporean and Malaysian potato cakes.
In Malay (just fyi):
- coriander leaves = daun sup
- spring onions = daun bawang
- daun = leaf
- sup = soup
- bawang = onion
- goreng = fry/fried (see below)
Crispy Fried Shallots (Bawang Goreng)
These are definitely a must when cooking begedil at home. They add both flavour and a crunchy texture to your mashed potato patties.
I tend to have homemade crispy fried shallots. But if you don’t fancy making them yourself, they should be easily available in Asian stores, whether South Asian or East/South East Asian.
They last a long time, so if you fancy making your own, click here for our crispy fried shallots recipe on LinsFood.
We use a neutral tasting oil like vegetable oil, corn oil or peanut oil. Nothing that has an aroma or flavour.
Salt and Pepper
The ubiquitous flavouring. The pepper that’s traditionally used is ground white pepper. But if you don’t have it, just use regular black pepper.
You can add different flavours to these Malay potato cakes if you like. Here are some examples:
- chopped up chillies of whatever colour
- chopped up lemongrass
- minced chicken – dry fry the chicken with a little oil and seasoning for 5 minutes
- minced meat – dry fry for 10 minutes with oil and seasoning before using
How to Serve Begedil
They are commonly served as an accompaniment to a main dish, like you ‘d serve a fried egg, chicken or fish in an Asian meal. That could be mee soto or soto ayam, laksa, mee siam or a plate of rice with various side dishes.
Do you serve begedil as snacks? I don’t but apparently, it’s a thing, and I can totally see why. Have a dip on the side, whether that’s a shop bought sweet chilli sauce, sriracha or super simple sambal kicap.
That last one is my next recipe, look out for it, and as a YouTube short.
How to Store Begedil
Leftover begedil can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. Warm them up in an oven at 180°C (350F) for 7-10 minutes until heated right through.
Or in an air fryer also at 180°C (350F), for 3 minutes.
Begedil can also be frozen. Open freeze them on a tray for an hour. Then place them in a ziplock kind of bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
To reheat, just use the oven at the same temperature for 15 – 20 minutes. Or an air fryer for 8 – 10 minutes.
And that’s it, shall we get our aprons on?
If you enjoy the recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating! 😉 Thank you!
If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram or Facebook and tag me @azlinbloor and hashtag it #linsfood.
Begedil Recipe (aka Perkedel, Fried Potato Patty)
- 500 g potatoes about 3 medium ones
- 1 stalk spring onion (scallion) about 20g/0.7 oz
- 1 handful coriander leaves (cilantro) about 15g/0.5 oz
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp ground white pepper or just a pinch, if you don't fancy too much
- 250 ml vegetable oil for frying begedil
- 1 small egg or whatever size
- 1 large pot of water
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 250 ml vegetable oil if frying potatoes instead of boiling
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 Tbsp salt.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes about 5cm/2 inches. It doesn't really matter, as long as they are small enough to cook in 10 – 15 minutes.
- Tip the potato chunks into the boiling water carefully (don't burn your hands), and cook them for 10 – 15 minutes, until a small knife can glide right through.
- Drain the potatoes with a colander, and sit the colander back on your empty pot and leave to air dry for 5 minutes. This will ensure that our potatoes aren't too wet to hold their shape.
- When they've had 5 minutes of air drying, tip them into a large bowl and mash them with a potato masher until smooth, as they are, nothing added.
- Heat the oil in a medium wok or deep frying pan (skillet) on medium heat.Line a plate with 2 sheets of kitchen paper.
- Peel the potatoes and slice them fairly thinly, just under 1 cm thick ( roughly ⅓ inch). This is so they'll fry fairly quickly.No need to be too worried about the thickness, just thin enough to fry quickly, but not too thin that they'll become potato crisps (aka chips in Asia).
- Dab the potatoes dry with kitchen paper, then fry in the hot oil in 2 batches. Fry each batch for 3 minutes, as you don't want them too crispy that they won't mash.This should be enough time for them to cook, take on a little colour but still be soft enough to mash.
- When the first batch is done, lift the potato slices out of the hot oil and place on a plate lined with 2 sheets of kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.Finish cooking the second batch.
- When all the potato slices are done cooking, you want to mash them up. I prefer doing this with a pestle and mortar, as they mash easier. Then tip into a large bowl.But if you don't have a big mortar, then just mash it down in a large bowl with a potato masher.
Begedil Potato Mixture
- Finely chop the coriander leaves and spring onions and tip them in with the mashed potato (which should be in a bowl).
- Add the crispy fried shallots, ⅛ tsp salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning as you see fit.
Shape the Begedil
- Get a small portion of the potato mixture and form into balls, compressing them and flattening slightly with the palm of your hands. Place on a tray or large plate and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.Finish the rest of the begedil mix. You should get about 16 begedil.
Frying the Begedil
- Heat the 250ml/1 cup oil on medium heat in a deep frying pan or medium wok. If you'd fried the potato earlier, just use the same oil, no need to add more.
- Lightly beat your egg.Line a large plate with 2 layers of kitchen paper.To test to see if the oil is hot enough, just dip any wooden utensil you have in the hot oil. If you start seeing tiny bubbles immediately hugging the spatula, it's hot enough.
- Very carefully, dip each begedil into the beaten egg and slide into the hot oil. Don't burn your fingers!Repeat until you've filled up your wok/pan without overcrowding and in a single layer. Depending on the size of your pan, you'll be frying the begedil in 2 batches, or maybe 3.Fry the begedil for about 2 minutes each side, flipping them halfway through. You may need just 1½ minutes each side, depending on your heat level. You are aiming for a golden brown colour.
- When done, take the begedil out and place them on the lined plate. Finish frying the rest of them. Serve as suggested above.