Sfeeha: Middle Eastern Lamb and Pine Nut Pies with Tzatziki ~ deliciously little appetizer pastries filled with spiced ground lamb and pine nuts.
These little appetizer sized pies made with a spiced lamb filling are common in the Middle East. There are lots of variations; some are bite sized, some are like little pizzas, but they all have a filling of spiced lamb and vegetables.
Since my daughter is finally home from her summer fellowship in the Middle East, it seemed like a good time to try them. I’ve had them bookmarked forever.
The olive oil rich dough is super easy to put together, and, get this, my trusty tortilla press just happens to make the perfect size circles out of it, instantly and effortlessly. Yasmeen comments that the dough is elastic and a bit hard to roll out…well, with the tortilla press it’s no problem at all. I made the circles ahead, left them between their waxed paper, and they stayed flat and ready for me. I’ve used this press to make perfect circles out of tortilla dough, pie crust dough, and now this bread-like dough.
If by now you aren’t completely convinced that you need one of these $14.95 gadgets, then, I don’t know, you must have issues. I’m sorry about that, but you really need to get one of these things.
The lamb portion of these sfeeha is similar to my Lebanese Meatballs only without the egg and breadcrumb to bind it together.
I used a small scoop to portion out the meat filling onto the dough. The dough gets pinched up into four little corners. Very cute. Kind of a tri-cornered hat meets Flying Nun shaped thingy.
~~~adapted from Wandering Spice
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 lb lean ground lamb
- 1/2 large onion, finely minced
- 1 tomato, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 heaping tsp Middle Eastern spice mix (or a 1/4 tsp each of cumin, clove, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, rosemary)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tsp pomegranate molasses (optional)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 Persian cucumber, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 bunch fresh mint, thinly sliced or chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F
- To make the dough: whisk the dry ingredients together. Add the olive oil and the water, adding just enough water to make the dough come together.
- Knead the dough for a few minutes until it's smooth and elastic. Put back in the bowl, cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Break off ping-pong sized rounds of dough and either roll out into 3 to 4 inch circles, or let the tortilla press do it for you.
- To make the filling: mix all the ingredients in a bowl, taking care not to overwork the meat.
- Place one heaping tablespoon full of meat in the center of each circle of dough. Lightly apply a little water to the outer rim of the circle of dough with a wet finger, and bring it up around the meat and pinch together four corners of the dough to make a square shape. Squeeze the corners together so they stay closed.
- Place on a lightly greased or lined baking sheet and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the meat is cooked through and the dough is light golden brown.
- Serve hot with Tzatziki and more pomegranate molasses for drizzling on top.
- To make the sauce: mix everything together and taste to adjust the seasonings. Keep refrigerated until needed.