Monday, July 7, 2008

Meat or Spinach Fataayir - Savory Arabic Pastries

Alex linked me to a website with Middle Eastern recipes and videos (accompanied with very entertaining musical choices) called Mimi Cooks. The recipes all look good, and I stumbled across this one for Sfeeha: Meat Pies. It was uploaded with "When Doves Cry" by Prince, which is one of my favorite songs so I knew the recipe would be good! :P

The website author, from Bahrain, calls these 'sfeeha', but Alex calls them 'fataayir' (often spelled 'fatayer'), so I'll go with the Levantine name for consistency. I think they can also be called 'manaish'. Basically it's a simple dough topped with a savory filling and baked. They're often sold as street food. This is a recipe for meat filling, but there are many others including spinach, zaa3tar (herb and sesame mix), potato, cheese, etc... If I try other styles out I'll post the results here. Check out the original site for video!


Meat Fataayir served with tomato salad, pickle, and bulghur pilaf. I was out of yogurt, but these would have been good with it.

Mimi provides a basic bread dough recipe, but also suggests using frozen bread or pizza dough. She uses a package of frozen bread dough that makes two loaves. I used Pillsbury's pizza dough for my first try but it tasted mediocre and one tube wasn't enough. I suggest using something higher quality.

Basic bread dough
1.5 lbs ground beef or lamb
2 diced onions
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
S & P
1 Tbsp. allspice
Oil for the pan
1/2 c. pine nuts

I also added:
1 Tbsp. marjoram
2 tsp. pomegranate molasses

Preheat the oven to 450 and grease a round pan (I used a cast iron frying pan).

Cook the meat, onions, and seasonings in a little oil until well browned. Stir in the tomato paste, and any other seasonings you desire--feel free to be creative.

Form the dough into 3-4" rounds and place them in the pan. Let them rest for 15 minutes.

Press a spoonful of meat filling into each round. Sprinkle each round with pine nuts.

Bake for 15 minutes until the dough in the center is cooked. Run under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to brown the tops, but take care not to burn.

Serve as a snack or as a meal with greens on the side. Meat pies are especially good with yogurt sauce. In the summertime they heat up the kitchen for a little while, but are so nice to have as snacky leftovers when you're too hot to think about food.

Update: Spinach Version!

I liked these so much that I already tried another version. This one can be made with spinach and/or swiss chard or any other tender green (I used beet tops). Apparently spinach ones are typically made into fully enclosed triangle shapes, but I wasn't ambitious enough to try that. I went with a traditional Syrian canoe-shaped style instead. I also used frozen dinner roll dough this time, which were much more suited for the recipe.

These would be more green if you used spinach instead of beet tops.

2 bunches chard, beet greens, or spinach
2 onions, diced
oil for frying
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
OR 2 Tbsp. dried sumac
2 tsp. pomegranate molasses
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. pine nuts
S & P
olive oil (optional)

Prepare your dough, form it into 1.5 oz balls, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425.

Blanch the greens in boiling salted water. Drain in cold water and squeeze dry. Chop finely.

Meanwhile, saute the onions over low heat until caramelized with a pinch of salt. Add the greens and cook a few more minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, cinnamon, and salt and black pepper to taste. Add the oil and combine well.

Flatten the dough into oval shapes, place a spoonful of filling in the center, and pinch the small ends together to make a canoe shape. Place the canoes into a greased baking dish.

Sprinkle with pine nuts and bake at 425 for 15 minutes until the edges are beginning to brown. Run under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until the pine nuts are toasted. Remove from the oven and brush the dough lightly with olive oil. Delicious!

1 comment:

Summer said...

LIllian, thank you so much for the links on your blog and for trying out the recipe. this is not my own recipe by all means, it is a popular recipe in the middle east, with different names, could be sfeeha, manaeesh or fatayer, wherever you are from you name them! :)
I am from Jordan but just moved from Lebanon to Bahrain. i love adding the pomegranate molasses to it, it gives it a tangy taste and great flavor. thanks again and hope that you will try more of my posted recipes. thanks for your nice post...i appreciate it and please thank Alex for me for introducing you to my site!! have a wonderful day.