These Middle Eastern savory meat pies, topped with toasted pine nuts, are a traditional Arabic dish, popular throughout the Levant (and also in parts of South America, where there is a significant expat Arabic community). They are small, hand-held "pizzas," made with ground lamb or beef, seasoned with lemony sumac and allspice. Tahini, pomegranate molasses and lemon juice add a complex flavor and a creamy texture to the meat, and for the more adventurous, a little zing of hot peppers finishes the effect. Dip the warm pies into plain, sour yogurt, if you want to eat them like an Arab.
Like many other foods, these little meat pies have a long history in Palestine. In the days before bakeries, women kneaded up dough every day, rolled out their flat "pita" bread, stacked these on trays, and then carried these trays of dough to community ovens. They would top some of the loaves with olive oil and za'atar, to make mana'eesh, or with white cheese, to serve for breakfast. But if they had some leftover meat, they made these meat pies, called sfiha. You will find many variations of these meat pies throughout the Middle East, some with crimped edges, some sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, some with extra tomatoes.
Palestinians serve trays of sfiha at parties and gatherings, but in most people's homes, sfiha are served with a bowl of lentil soup and some plain yogurt for dipping. To me, I really can't think of a more comforting or nourishing way to end a day.
Middle Eastern Spiced Meat Pies, or Sfiha
1 to 1 1/2 lbs dough (sourdough pita dough, or your favorite pizza dough)
1 lb. grassfed ground lamb or beef
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
3 tbsp. green or red pepper, finely diced
1 fresh lemon, juiced
2-3 tbsp. tahini
1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 tsp. sumac
1/2 tsp. allspice
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley
Optional: jalapeno peppers, or hot sauce.
1. Brown the meat, breaking up into small pieces with a spoon as it cooks. Add tomato, peppers, tahini, lemon, and pomegranate molasses, and seasonings. Cook for five minutes, stirring, until ingredients are softly cooked. Stir in parsley and hot sauce, if using.
2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll out your dough into circles on a baking stone or sheet. Scoop a little meat mixture onto each dough round and press firmly into dough.
3. Bake for ten minutes, then pull from the oven and sprinkle with pine nuts and return to oven. Bake an additional five minutes, or until pies are browned and cooked through.
Serve warm with bowls of plain yogurt, for dipping.
*How to Make Yogurt
*Spotlight on Ancient Herbs: Sumac
*Lemony Lentil Soup, or Shorabat Addas
Shared on: Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Tasty Traditions, Homeacre Hop.