Servings : Makes 14-16 pies
Sfeeha are a kind of middle eastern meat pies. In some parts they are known as lahm bi ajeen (which translates to ‘meat with dough’). Their unique shape makes them look like little windows of goodness!
Ingredients for dough
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups warm milk
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg (plus one for glazing)
- 1 tbsp. melted butter
- 3 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp. milk powder
Ingredients for Stuffing
- 500 gm lamb or beef mince
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp drained thick yoghurt
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp sumac powder (optional)
- 1/2 tsp garam masala or all spice powder
- 1 tsp black pepper, crushed
- 1 tsp paprika powder
- 2 tsp pomegranate mollases or juice of one lemon
- 2 tsp red chilli flakes
- 4 tbsp chopped coriander or parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- 2 tsp tahini paste (optional)
- 2 tbsp roasted pine nuts (optional)
- salt to taste
First prepare the dough. Sieve the flour, then add milk powder, baking powder, sugar, yeast and salt. Then add the oil, butter and the egg and mix together. Now add the milk gradually whilst kneading. You might not need it all, so add it sparingly until your dough is nice and soft. If more milk is needed to get a soft dough consistency, warm a little more and use. Knead for a good 8-10 minutes. The more you knead the softer the bread results will be.
Touch a bit of oil with your fingertips and apply all over the ball of dough. Cover in a bowl and set aside for 40 minutes to an hour for it to double in size.
While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. In most cases the mince is added into pies uncooked and then baked with the bun, however i prefer to cook the mince first just so that it is faster to bake the buns in the oven.
Heat the butter in a pan, add the chopped onions and saute to soften them. Then add the mince, ginger, garlic, salt and all the powdered spices. Cook on high heat until the mince is almost fully cooked. It will cook a bit more in the oven so do not worry if it is slightly under done, just make sure to dry off any excess moisture. Allow it to cool.
Add the chopped coriander, mint, tahini, mollasses or lemon juice, drained yoghurt, pine nuts and chopped tomatoes. Mix well and give it a taste, adjust if needed (PIC 1)
When the dough has doubled in volume, divide it into 14 or 16 balls, depending on the size you want them to be. (PIC 2)
Working on one ball of dough at at time (make sure to cover the rest in the meantime), roll each one out to form a circle of less than a quarter inch thickness. (PIC 3)
Place a heaping amount of filling in the center (PIC 4)
Then bring the sides up and over the edges of the filling. (PICS 5 & 6)
Pinch the four corners tightly shut. The trick in keeping these pies from opening up during baking is to wet the edges of the dough with a little water before you shape it, that will seal the dough together and prevent it from opening once baked.(PICS 7 & 8)
Once done, flatten each sfeeha down gently with the palm of your hand, then place on greased baking tray. (PIC 9)
Continue until all are done. Then brush them with the beaten egg and you can sprinkle some sesame seeds over them if you like.
Preheat the oven at 200 C (you need this high temperature because the sfeeha should not be baked for long durations). Then place the tray in the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until the bottoms are golden. if the tops are not yet coloured, you can then place them under the broiler for a couple of minutes until the tops are golden brown, but keep an eye on them so they do not burn.
Brush them with a touch of melted butter directly out of the oven and then keep them covered under a kitchen towel to retain softness until time of serving.