Lebanese meat pies “sfeeha”

Remember a while back when I talked about starting a gratitude or smile journal? Well I thought I would take Natalie’s example and making it part of my posts. I won’t promise it to be a part of each and every post but I will do my best. So here are the things that made me smile today:

  • School is finally over! My little one finished her last exam yesterday… hooray!
  • My potato pizza made it into food buzz top 9 for today…I was thrilled when I read a comment from Nami that said congratulation! Thank you sweet Nami :)
  • Speaking of sweet people, Manu of Manu’s menu awarded me the versatile blogger award. Manu is an amazingly creative and warm person, I see her sweet and encouraging comments in most of the blogs I read. She always has something great to say and you can feel her words are coming from the heart.Thank you Manu.Please take the time to visit and enjoy her blog.You’ll love it.
  • I decided to start a window mini garden, I had already got 2 small mint plants and a pot with a basil plant 2 weeks ago,thebasil is a mini tree now lol I love to shake it gently in the morning and the smell of basil fells the kitchen. I bought a 4 small flower plants and I’m planning to arrange the whole thing over the weekend :) and have some pictures to post for you next week

Today’s recipe is a family favorite. It can be a main meal, a snack or a party appetizer depending on your preference and the size you make them.

There are MANY recipes out there for the dough and the stuffing, this is my favorite. You may find the addition of tahini,pomegranete molassess and labaneh (drained greek yogurt) a bit strange but they do transform the taste of the meat and take it to the next level..still ,they are entirely optional.

You can knead the dough in the food processor or by hand.I like doing it by hand especially when I am having a bad day. It is a great way to vent anger or frustration. You can punch the dough, slam it against the table, get it all out without anyone getting hurt..it is even good for the dough lol

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.

Meat pies (sfeeha)

To make the dough

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup water

To make the stuffing

500 grams ground beef

1 medium onion chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 tablespoon Tahini(optional)

1 tablespoon labaneh(optional..you can replace it with sour cream)

1  tablespoon pomegranate molasses

Salt to taste

1/2 tablespoon dried mint

Proof the yeast by mixing the yeast, salt and water and waiting for the yeast to foam and bubble. (if it doesn’t bubble you need to discard it and start over with new yeast)

In a bowl whisk together the flour and salt till combined

Add the oil and then rub it into the flour mix with your fingertips

Add the water/ yeast mixture and knead the dough untill it forms a smooth soft ball that doesn’t stick to your hands (a tip from a bakery owner I know, lift the dough and slam it into the table 7-10 times during kneading. That will give your baked goods that fluffy cotton like interior)

Cover a bowl with a little olive oil,place your dough it and cover the dough with a clean towel or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place untill it doubles in size (If you are short on time, heat your oven to 200 C and place the rack in the middle. Turn it off. Place a clean towel on the rack and place the bowl with your covered dough on the towel and leave it in the closed oven. It will double in size in 10-15 minutes)

Cut the dough into egg sized balls and cover them with a clean towel and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.

To make the stuffing saute the onions in the olive oil untill translucent.

Add the ground beef and spices and stir untill it is half done.

Add the molasses, tahini,labaneh and mint. Stir to combine.

To assemble the sfeeha

Oil your baking sheets.

Center your oven rack

Heat your oven to 270 C (or the highest setting or temperature your oven can get to )

Roll the dough ball into a small circle, place the stuffing in the center.

Wet 1 cm of the dough circumference with water using a brush or your finger.

Take two sides of the dough circle and seal them together by pinching them between your finger and thumb

Repeat that with the other sides of the circle untill you get 4 corners.

Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

If you are making a big amount make sure you cover the meat pies with a clean cloth while they are resting or the surface will dry and crack once you bake them.

When the whole amount is ready re-pinch the sealed dough margins together to make sure they are sealed tight.

Brush the dough with some Powdered milk dissolved in a little water (you want it to be of thick consistency). You can use an egg wash but I personally hate the smell of eggs that the egg wash leaves.

Bake your meat pies for 10 minutes or untill the under side is golden. (They will buff up as they bake so don’t place them too close to each other on the baking sheet)

Place them under the broiler untill the tops are golden brown

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Make yourself a cup of tea and ENJOY

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  1. These are so cute! And they look yummy. (Much more appetizing than the last meat pie I had.) I’m going to keep this one on file for when we get Lebanon in our cooking adventure…if not sooner. :) I started my gratitude journal up again last week after reading your post. It does start and/or end the day right. :) Congrats on the Food Buzz top 9! Way to go!

    • Thank you so much ChefMom…Lebanon is definetly worth a visit for a cooking adventure..
      You were part of my motivation to do this gratitude journal thing..I really appreciated your comment then and now :)
      Thanx for the congrats and for reading :)

  2. These are absolutely adorable! Congratulations on being selected in the Food Buzz! Well deserved, you should be so proud of yourself, I know that I am certainly proud of you!! You are the best blogging buddy a girl could have! Cheers!

  3. Those are the prettiest meat pies I’ve ever seen. I love the spices that go into the meat. And thanks for the tips on the dough!

  4. Love the gratitude journal – it made me run outside and brush my hands against my basil plants! What a beautiful recipe – the pies look amazing and the photographs are lovely too. Can´t get beef here easily, but I can improvise! Looking forward to trying them. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Don’t you just love the smell of basil! it is so refreshing :)
      You can use other kinds of meat but you may have to change the spices a little then
      Looking forward to seeing your creation

  5. These are fantatsic. The crust the filling every part of them are ideal! Great Photos!

  6. Most meat pies look boring compared to your “star” looking pies! The filling sounds really good, nice flavor combinations. Congrats to you on Food Buzz; you always have great recipes!

  7. I must thank you a hundred times for this recipe and detailed description which I will assuredly be grateful for when I am making these soon. One of my best friends is from Lebanon and she is not much of a cook so I think she will be pleased when I surprise her with these sometime soon. They look scrumptious!

    • You are too kind Geni..
      I really hope your friend will like these..it is so sweet of you to think of making them for her :)

  8. What a great meat pie. I am bookmarking this recipe right now. I know my husband will love these – great combination of flavors with the meat!

  9. Love the idea of a gratitude journal…hmm let’s see now…I am grateful for finding your blog and grateful that you posted this recipe of these yummy pies:-)

  10. What gorgeous meat pies! Fabulously wrapped, and browned to perfection. I can’t wait to see what you cook with the herbs from your mini garden. :)

    • Thank you Caroline :)
      My mint plants are just too small to do anything with them, there is a tiny rosemary too
      What I’m facing now is an out break of basil hehehehe

  11. How CUTE! Looks like star..sort of. I love your pictures Sawsan! Especially…(your might think I’m strange) the round cute dough!!! I want to pet them (getting weirder?)….sounds like bread making is really like raising children! LOL. This recipe has a lot of new ingredients I have never heard of. I’d love to have a bite of this…can’t imagine how delicious it tastes like!

    • Thank you Nmai..
      and no I don’t think you’re strange..I love the feel of the dough too hehehe
      I know there are many new ingredients here but they are really common ingredients in middle eastern cooking and they are healthy and yummy ..
      hope you’d give them a go

  12. congrats on the top 9! i just checked out that pizza and it looks delicious!
    i have had these “sfeehas” before when i lived in the middle east … they taste so meaty and yummy plus they make the greatest snack ever! i haven’t tried making my own but i really should give them a shot…hehe

  13. Looks delish and sounds easy to prepare! Love the photos.

    • It is really easy ..you just need to give it time and it will be great..
      thank you for stopping by and for your compliment

  14. eva626

     /  June 11, 2011

    thats like the perfect party food…except it would be a pain to see all of them go so fast…darn those hungry guests

  15. I LOVE sfeeha with yoghurt! MmmMmmMmm…. :D

  16. They look so perfect and neat little bite. Perfect for party too. And you shared the dough recipe too which is great :)

  17. Your pictures made me hungry Sawsan, I love safeeha, yummy in all occasions.

  18. I so made cajun meat pies just last week! Yours look so great and I love the flavors you used. I need to try your version next time. Dont’ you just love them. They are so cute and so full of flavor- perfect for kids and adults!

    • I totally agree..they are perfect for kids and grown ups..I will have to try it your way..cajun meat pies sound yummy

  19. Oh my.. These look wonderful. I love the various meat pies/patties/pasties there are around the world. Every culture seems to have one

  20. I’m looking through the breads and marvelling at the variety of cuisines and techniques used. Amazing.

  21. Anonymous

     /  April 20, 2012

    This doesn’t say when to add the yeast ? Or maybe i don’t see it ?

  22. Oh oh, meat and pie in the same sentence is always enough to put a grin on my face. I love how different countries have variations of the meat pie – english have things like pasties, Lebanon has these… and they look so wonderful! Thanks for the inspiration Sawsan – I’m going to remember these the next time I’m cooking some pies!

  23. Anonymous

     /  August 7, 2012

    Takes me back when i look at your stellar food images :) I am from India and stayed for a bit in the UAE. Sorry to say we don’t get Sfeeha, Fatayer, Ara’yes here :( i can;t wait to make these. May i ask if there is a reason the recipe for the dough of Fatayer and Sfeeha are different? Can i use one for both?

  24. Takes me back when i look at your stellar food images :) I am from India and stayed for a bit in the UAE. Sorry to say we don’t get Sfeeha, Fatayer, Ara’yes here :( i can;t wait to make these. May i ask if there is a reason the recipe for the dough of Fatayer and Sfeeha are different? Can i use one for both?

    • Hello Nanditha :)
      The Sfeeha dough is traditionally a simple dough with no additives like yogurt which you find in the fatayer dough. You can use the fatayer dough to make Sfeeha but not the other way around.
      I hope you will enjoy them when you give them a try

  25. Anonymous

     /  September 5, 2012

    I have just discovered your wonderful site and am excited to try your recipes. I can’t wait to try and make the meat pies. Thank you for sharing.

  26. iris

     /  September 5, 2012

    I have just discovered your site and want to thank you for sharing your recipes.

  27. A.sammi

     /  September 22, 2012

    assalammualaikum, it’s look so delicious, i’ve never made any mideast food but this is something i would try soon,and maybe u can add some of indonesian food cause there is a lot of good food, greeting from indonesia.

  28. hi i am in such a awe after seeing ur blog,it is so versatile,and i relate to u soo much as a muslim,as a foodie,having a son who is crazy about mqqueen cars!!!,coming to this recipe this one as such a hit in our family every one loved it ,i posted my result of ur recipe in my blog plz have a look and post ur lovely comments…. it is http://bondedbyfood.blogspot.in/2012/10/meat-pies-sfeeha.html

  29. Raafieh Ahmed

     /  October 29, 2012

    Assalamalaykum.I am from India,living in middleeast for the past 10 years..having developed a liking for middleeast cuisine ,I never attempted to cook it BUT NOW after visiting your site accidently….I am going to try your fatayer recipe today! Your photography is too good and I am sure the food must be tasting even better!!
    Thanks a lot for being generous and sharing your recipies…All the best to you.


    • Wa alikom al salam Raafieh
      Thank you so much for your kind comment. I am so glad you enjoy my blog and I hope you will enjoy the fatayer and any other recipe of mine that you try :)

  30. bushra

     /  November 11, 2012

    Hi sawsan …our website is amazing I bookmarked it on my phone for easy reach :)
    I want to ask you something about safee7a I made it today with fatayer dough but when it came out from the oven it was so hard not even a little fluffiness in it ( like biscuits) did I miss something ? And can I add a little milk to the dough ? Thanks in advance

    • Hello Bushra
      Sorry to hear about the sfee7a, you mean you used my cheese fatayer recipe? if the answer is yes there could be more than one reason, your oven temperature was low which dried out the dough (you need to check with an oven thermometer, sometimes ovens can give you a temperature lower or higher than the one you set them to).
      Another reason may be that you did not knead the dough long enough, you need to knead the dough to develop gluten which makes the dough fluffy and light
      You also need to allow the dough to rise till it doubles then allow it to rest after you shape it
      One last thing you may want to try is omit the baking powder. The baking powder helps the dough rise better in the oven but it also causes the baked goods to harden a little when they are cold
      I hope this helps Bushra

      • bushra

         /  November 16, 2012

        Thank you sawsan, I appreciate your quick response and I’ll do it again using the tips you mentioned above. Thanks again

  31. Randa Saab

     /  November 30, 2012

    Lovely blog but the sfeeha is not a “lebanese meat pie”. Its a levantine arabic meat pie. The cuisine that is called lebanese is actually pan-syrian levantine arab cuisine so its not fair to call it lebanese.

  32. I used to live in Ottawa, Canada and we enjoyed the most delicious flat Lebanese meat pies. We live in Victoria, BC, Canada now and my husband says the bakery he tried didn’t come close to the taste of our favourite pies. I’m excited to give this recipe a try in the new year. Thank you for posting this. Your site is beautiful.

  33. aiysha

     /  June 28, 2013

    If we have any extra dough left how can we preserve it

    • Hello Aiysha, you can wrap the extra dough and freeze it. The day before you want to use it place it in the fridge and on the day you want to bake with it take it out of the fridge two to three hours ahead of time to allow it to come to room temperature

  34. aiysha

     /  June 28, 2013

    I tried the recipe and everyone liked it ..thanks to you. …Can you please guide me about the ingredients included in all spices….bless you

  35. Dzelili Family

     /  July 14, 2013

    As Salaamu Alaykum again Sawsan!!

    So I did these last night, and am doing a whole bunch again today for neighbors and family, and I have to say, this is THE BEST DOUGH recipe I have EVER come across! It was so light and fluffy, the amount of filling was perfect, and how AMAZING is tahina in ground beef?? I would have never have guessed! Thanks again Sawsan!! I just discovered your website yesterday and am LOVING IT!!

    • Wa alikom al salam again :)
      Thank you so much for the comment. Really glad you enjoyed the sfeeha. That was my exact reaction when I first tried tahini in sfeeha! Why oh why did I not know about this before!! :)

  36. Sabz

     /  July 16, 2013

    Assalam Alaikum,

    I’m so thankful to have come across your blog especially in this month of Ramadan, can’t wait to try these delicious looking Sfeeha today! One thing I was hoping you would have mentioned is roughly how many in quantity can be made with the recipe above.

    Thanks again :)

    • Wa alikom al salam Sabz
      Thank you for stopping by
      The recipe should make 12 – 15 pies depending on the size you make them
      I hope you will enjoy them

      • Sabz

         /  July 17, 2013

        We had them for iftar today, they were really good!! I added a tomato to the filling and some parsley too :) Looking forward to trying out some of your other recipes

      • Sahtain :)
        Looking forward to hearing how the other recipes turn out

  37. I am so glad I found this recipe! My Lebanese neighbour recently passed away and made these for my children for over 16 years. I was not sure I would ever be able to duplicate but these are exactly what she made and my two teenagers agree. While I miss Hadjah terribly I know she will be happy that I can continue her tradition.

    • Thank you so much Sam for your comment. It put a big smile on my face to know that my recipe was able to bring back sweet memories of your neighbour. I am really glad that the sfeeha turned out to be like hers :)

  38. Assalaamu alaikum Sawsan. I just finished making these. Mashallah so delicious. Someone used to sell these after jummah prayer and I had no idea what they were called. I searched high and low looking for various recipes trying to figure out how to re-create them based on attempting to figured out the ingredients by taste. Thankfully I came across your recipe and am now able to make them at home whenever I want :)

  39. Jean Marie Furby

     /  December 6, 2013

    I come from a Syrian background, but American born and raised. It seemed like my Situ (and everyone else on my father’s side of the family, for that matter) was SO secretive about things, but ESPECIALLY food. “How do you make grape leaves?” “Can you write down the recipe for bulgar & chicken?” are just two of the countless pleas for recipes I’ve begged for! All you’d ever get was, “Just come over when I make it”… I can’t wait to make these meat pies! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!

    • hehehe You remind me of my family! Sometimes it feels like I have to extract the recipes by force and even then you have to make the recipe a couple of times and ask them half a dozen times to get the complete recipe perfected :)

  40. shifa

     /  January 26, 2014

    Asalamalaikum, can we make the sfeeha and freeze it for unexpected guests ?

  41. shifa

     /  January 26, 2014

    Can we freeze the sfeeha and thaw them for unexpected guests ?

  42. Anonymous

     /  February 11, 2014

    Sawsan i have decided to make these tomorrow as we can’t wait till Friday. I hope this is the recipie we were looking for a long time :)
    Unfortunately I don’t have a all spice.Please could you let me know what can I use instead?

  43. Anonymous

     /  February 15, 2014

    Hurrraaayy!! Finally this tastes exactly like we like. My husband and kids absolutaly loved it.Thank you so much.I love your blog. I am here every day now:)

  44. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2014

    Super good and a nice chef am happy to have found you! :)

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