Cheese pastry “fatayer jebneh”

Fatayer jenbeh or cheese pies are popular arabic pastries. You find them in bakeries, school cafeterias, cafe and pastry shops.They make a great start of the day or a wonderful companion for the afternoon tea.These arabic cheese pastries are great portable snacks or impressive pastry appetizers if you make them small enough.

Fatayer el jebneh are typically boat-shaped but you can shape the dough any way you are comfortable with, I sometimes shape them the same way as the lebanese meat pies and other times I make them into triangles or circles, they are tasty in any shape so have fun with it. The cheese used for the stuffing is usually akkawi cheese mixed with a little kashkaval or cheddar cheese  but you can use any salty cheese you like.You can add a variety of flavorings too cilantro, Nigella seeds or dried mint add another dimension of flavor but if you are a fan of plain cheese flavor feel free to use a plain cheese stuffing.

To make the perfect arabic cheese pastry you need a combination of a dough that will hold its shape after baking, good quality cheese and the flavoring you like.Today I am sharing my go to recipe for making these cheese pastries along with a step by step “how to” shape them.

To make the dough

3 cups flour

1/4 cup vegetable  oil

1/4 cup yogurt

1 teaspoon baking powder (see notes)

1 tablespoon yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup warm water (the water should be slightly warm to the touch not hot)

For the stuffing

equal amounts of grated akkawi cheese, kashkaval, sharp cheddar (about 100 g of each)

1 table spoon nigella seeds (optional)

2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Instructions

Proof the yeast by mixing it with the sugar and water in a cup, the yeast should foam and bubble if it doesn’t then it has gone bad and you need to replace it with new package.

In a bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder  till combined

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

Add the yogurt and 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, pick up the dough and slam it into the table 7-10 times during kneading. That will give your baked goods that fluffy  interior)

Cover a bowl with a little olive oil,place your dough it and cover the bowl 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.

Roll each dough ball into an elongated oval shape

Fold one edge of the dough over and press it with your finger tips to seal it

Fold over the opposite side and tuck the dough under the pastry boat

Do the same with the opposite side.

Once you’re done shaping the pastry gently press the top folds to adhere the dough to the cheese..this helps to prevent the pastry boats from opening up when you bake them

I usually brush them with some milk but you can egg wash them or brush them with some olive oil to give them a beautiful golden color when they bake

Allow them to rest for 10-15 minutes after shaping before baking them

Bake on the middle rack in an oven that you have preheated to 200 C until the bottom is golden brown then place under the broiler until the tops are golden brown.

Notes:

If you are going to consume the fatayer soon after baking , keep the baking powder (It increases the fluffiness of the dough and allows it to rise better in the oven). If you plan on storing them or eating them over a couple of days omit the baking powder because the  fatayer remain softer and more chewy when they are cooled and stored without the baking powder.(baking powder results in the baked goods hardening a little when they are cold)

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127 Comments

  1. I live in the Middle East with my husband and he adores Cheese Fatayer! Hopefully I will now be able to make him some homemade ones! :)

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

     /  June 17, 2014

    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
    مرحبا حبيبتي مشاء الله تبارك الرحمن مدونتك مرة مرة منسقة ومرتبة ربي يوفقك
    حبيبتي عندي طلب ياريت تكتبي كمان بالعربي حتى يستفيدوا الاخوات اللي لغتهم الانجليزية متوسة حتى يستفيدوا
    والله يعطيك العافية

    Reply
    • و عليكم السلام و رحمه الله و بركاته
      ان شاء الله كل الوصفات الجديده ستكون بالعربي و الانجليزي

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

     /  April 5, 2014

    Hello Sawsan, thanks a lot for the wonderful recipes, May Allah bless you.

    Reply
  4. Salaam Saswan,
    Had many failures making fatayer. But today it was perfect using your recipe . Thanks for sharing.
    You made my day

    Reply
  5. A Sala

     /  October 9, 2013

    This dough is THE best I have ever tried for Fatayer and no mujamalat ;) MashAllah so soft and perfect. Definitely a keeper and Im so happy I’ve come across this! I’ve tried tons of dough recipes and this is what I’ve been looking for!

    Reply
  6. THANK YOU SO MUCH. JazakiAllahu khair! This recipe was a winner. The dough was bomb.com!
    Can I use this dough for all kinds of fatayer? Even honeycomb bread? I’d love it if the answer is yes!

    Reply
  7. wannchef

     /  June 14, 2013

    I don’t know if I will be able to find these exact cheeses, but I plan on making these for my next picnic. THX

    Reply
  8. shurooq

     /  May 16, 2013

    assalam o aloikum! tried the recipe and it worked really well. i used paneer nd cheddar along with spring onions, green chillies some black pepper and thyme as filling and the combination was yummy. Besides cheese pastry i made zaatar bread using the same dough which turned out to be equally good. Hats off sawsan! looking forward for fatayer lebneh recipe. Keep up the YUMMY work! ma’s salamah!

    Reply
  9. shurooq

     /  May 3, 2013

    assalam o aliakum sawsan! i am delighted to see fatayer recipes on ur blog. i shall soon be trying these insha Allah. In saudi arabia we used to have fatayer lebneh. reading the comments for this recipe it seems lebneh won’t do with this dough. i am a great fan of fatayer lebneh. i just hope that you come up with one such recipe. i love the creaminess of lebneh with the freshly baked pastry. i would be grateful if u could devise a magic recipe for it. thanks very much, ma’as salamah! :)

    Reply
    • Wa alikom al salam Shurooq
      Thank you so much for your kind words
      I promise to do my best to come up with a fatayer labneh recipe as soon as possible and post it here

      Reply
  10. FATEME

     /  February 24, 2013

    Hi dear
    Thank you so much for this recipe.it looks wonderful.i must try it.i am from Iran and i’am very happy to see a muslim women on internet.
    shokran jazilan.

    Reply
  11. Okisteve

     /  January 20, 2013

    I got inspired because a friend sent me some good za’atar from Jordan, so I made two kinds of fatayer. Oh, if only I could get those kinds of cheeses here in Japan! I used some local cottage cheese smoothed with yogurt and other bits of cheeses but I should have added some salt to make it taste something like kashkaval. Also – the dough recipe is good but (as someone mentioned) a bit confusing because of the proofing business. I think with the 2 tsp of sugar the dough is a bit too sweet, maybe use less or correct with 1/2 tsp salt. Next time it will be perfect

    Reply
    • Hello Okisteve
      I updated the recipe. I agree with you, 2 teaspoons sugar can give the dough a slightly sweet hint. I use 1 teaspoon now adays but forgot to update the recipe
      I will be sharing the recipe for spinach fatayer soon with a new dough recipe that I now use for all my fatayer and manakeesh and it works perfectly every time. I hope you will find that to be the dough recipe you were looking for :)

      Reply
  12. Another recipe I’m overjoyed to find — they look like ‘pide’ which we ate often in Turkey, a soft, squishy dough with cheese and herbs, shaped like a boat — and we’ve been craving those food and flavors — so thank you for this!

    Reply
  13. nadia

     /  December 1, 2012

    yuhuuu!!! u r great!!! m 17 yrs old gurl n considered a bad cook in house!! bt i rocked in my family wen i made these..i live in kuwai & dis a famous dish here! thanx aloooooooot….

    Reply
  14. Just wanted to let you know that I FINALLY made cheese (and mushroom) fatayers today. Not as good as yours, certainly they were not as pretty, but they are done and the cheese ones were very tasty. On cooling, the mushrooms ones were ok as was the sole zaatar one I made with some scrap dough.

    Reply
  15. Sorry for being annoying, Sawsan, but I printed out the recipe last night and today I went downstairs to start making the dough when I ran into a problem.

    Your recipe lists the use of 2 teaspoons of sugar which are presumably used in proofing the yeast, in this step.

    “Proof the yeast by mixing it with the sugar and water in a cup”

    But then, in the next paragraph you write.

    “In a bowl whisk together the flour,baking powder and sugar till combined”

    Where does this other amount of sugar come from?

    Please advise. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hello Maria
      Sorry for that.
      You can either use both teaspoons of sugar to proof the yeast or you can divide them by usig one to proof the yeast and the other to mix with the flour and baking powder.I usually use both to proof the yeast.
      I will update the post to clarify

      Reply
      • Thank you for clarification. I thought I had missed something but now I can FINALLY get around to making the fatayer. I’ve bought several kinds at one of the local bakeries but wanted to try them myself. Hopefully my dough will be as soft as theirs.

  16. wow thanks for sharing the recipe Sawsan., I love the fatayer and didn’t have them for a long time, I will try it :)

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

     /  November 21, 2012

    Hi just made these wonderful little treats. I had some akkawi and found your recipe. They turned out great. I did have a little trouble shaping them and the cheese leaked but I do like the crunchy parts. I substituted the nigella seeds for caraway seeds. Thanks for the fabulous recipe!

    Reply
  18. Dominique

     /  November 20, 2012

    I was wondering if this was do-able with feta cheese… it is hard to find good kashkaval and akawi in my area.

    Reply
  19. I ended up with a bunch of leftover paneer (Indian curd cheese) from my pea, potato and cheese samosas and was curious whether it would would make a good filling for these cheese fatayer. I have some sharp old cheddar in my freezer that I could add as well as salting the paneer carefully if the cheese needs to be similarly salty to feta cheese. No yogurt either … maybe sour cream?

    Otherwise I can always make another batch of the samosas, maybe with spinach inside or use the cheese and spinach to make some triangles with phyllo pastry. :)

    Just trying to come up with ideas.

    I posted the samosas recipe plus a post in how to shape them in the last couple of days.

    http://a-boleyn.livejournal.com/115921.html

    Also gulab jamun, the fried Indian milk balls soaked in syrup.

    http://a-boleyn.livejournal.com/116059.html

    Reply
    • So sorry for the delay
      Yes you can use paneer for this pastry and it will be really good with the cheddar. I think sour cream would work for the dough though I have never tried it myself

      All your amazing samosa options are making me hungry. I have not made samosa in a long time
      Gulab jamun has been on my list of things to try forever. Heading over to your blog to check your recipes

      Reply
      • Thank you for the information about the cheeses and I hope to be able to pick up some yogurt this weekend and make the pastry as it should be made. And perhaps some pine nuts for a spinach version. :)

  20. We used to eat these pastries when we lived in our old apartment. We absolutely loved them and haven’t had them for a couple of years. I was thinking today I should search for a recipe and try making them myself….should have come directly to your page rather than spending all that time googling :)

    I’ll have to see if i can find akkawi cheese…how is it different from labneh?

    Reply
    • Hello Asiya
      I am glad you found the recipe you were looking for on my blog :)
      Akkawi cheese is a firm cheese while labneh is a cheese made by straining yogurt and that makes it rather soft, almost like cream cheese in consistency
      Akkawi is salty, and doesn’t melt when you bake it or cook it. Labneh needs to be completely enclosed by the dough and can’t be used for these fatayer
      If you can’t find akkawi cheese or nabulsi cheese, you can try paneer. A firm somewhat salty paneer would be a good substitute

      Reply
  21. Hi, Sawsan. Just wondering about the cheese you used. I looked up akkawi and it says a white brine cheese so I was wondering if it would look similar to feta in its package. I am sure Cairo must have it or something similar.

    These look delicious and I can’t wait to try them.

    Stacy

    Reply
    • Sawsan@ Chef in disguise

       /  October 14, 2012

      Hello Stacy. In packaging it may look like feta indeed or you may find it in the cheese department of any big supermarket. You can also use Nabulsi cheese, this is what it looks like http://chefindisguise.com/2012/06/04/how-to-make-nabulsi-cheese-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A9/
      I hope this helps

      Reply
      • You are going to laugh because when I said I could wait to try them, I was not joking! :) My dough has just finished its rising in the hot oven and I am about to cut it into egg-sized pieces. I don’t mess around! I am using feta I had in my refrigerator and cheddar with flat-leafed parsley and nigella seeds to fill. I’ll let you know how it goes. But so far, it’s going splendidly.

      • Sawsan@ Chef in disguise

         /  October 14, 2012

        You don’t mess around for sure :)
        I can’t wait to hear how it turns out

      • They turned out gorgeous and delicious! My mother and sister are visiting and everyone is swooning over them. :) Thank you!

      • Sawsan@ Chef in disguise

         /  October 14, 2012

        :) I am really glad you enjoyed them Stacy!
        Thank you for letting me know how they turned out.
        Have a wonderful time with your mother and sister

      • I posted a photo and a link to your recipe on my Facebook page. Everybody should make these! They are so great!

      • Sawsan@ Chef in disguise

         /  October 14, 2012

        I just saw it :) thank you
        I also shared it on my facebook page and linked to your facebook page :)

      • I meant COULDN’T wait, of course.

  22. I love how you showed how to fold them up because I wouldn’t have known how. These do look like they would be a wonderful snack – who doesn’t love cheese and pastry! xx

    Reply
  23. Lavonne Dinerman

     /  October 13, 2012

    Blessings on your house, Sawsan! I live in south Texas near the ocean. I think I will be completely at home with your delicious looking taste profiles – cilantro is surely a Texan’s middle name! I am happy that we could easily live next door to each other & share cooking for our families with great fun. This recipe especially will be a delight for my elderly parents, and they will greatly enjoy it! Thank you for your great consideration by sharing the love from your kitchen to ours.

    Reply
  24. Salamun alaikum Sawsan,
    I found your blog totally awesome….Oh! Sawsan I also live in Amman,Jordan.Who knows maybe you live right around my corner:)) Thanks for the beautiful recipes.

    Reply
    • wa alikom al salam
      Thank you kindly for the visit, I was just at your blog and was happy to see that you were a part of the daring cooks. I would love to see new posts from you. It would be fun to share the challenges with a fellow blogger here in Amman

      Reply
  25. These are beautiful! They are similar to the Finnish ones filled with potato instead of cheese.

    Reply
    • Thank you..
      there is a varient of these filled with meat and another with potatoes. It is amazing how similar certain recipes are world wide

      Reply
      • ilia43

         /  September 6, 2013

        Perhaps it’s because cooks world wide use what’s in hand and flour and potatoes are found everywhere. Or perhaps they travelled all the way to Finland via Turkey and Greece – we have them here too and we call them Peynirli (peynir = cheese). The Greek recipe uses full-fat yellow cheese and sometimes ham or bacon. Yours looks so much healthier – will try it someday and let you know how it turns out. Congrats for a great blog!

  26. Kristy

     /  August 5, 2012

    Thank you so much. My husband is from Syria and I spent 6 months there. We both love these and I was hungry for them. I tried a different recipe I found online yesterday and it was wrong. They made a mistake posting it so all my fatayer turned out like yummy little bricks we ate them but they were disappointing. So today I found this recipe and YUM!!! They were perfect. I had to use Nabilsia cheese and some mixed italian cheeses with fresh flat leaf parsley. They were delicious! Thank you this recipe is going in my favorites book.

    Reply
  27. kim

     /  July 21, 2012

    Thank you for this recipe. I made these for the first time tonight for Ramadan dinner, my husband loved them and they were much easier than I thought they would be to make. Thanks to your wonderful step by step directions with photos!

    Reply
  28. I just want to say your blog has taught me allot. I try to visit every week to see new updates you might have. Thanks and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  29. Oh they look so yummy, can’t wait to try this recipe :)

    Reply
  30. beginsatsundown

     /  January 23, 2012

    These look so amazing. I love baking breads and pastries.

    Reply
  31. Sawsan, I always love your bread recipe. If you have a bakery, you will see me everyday! Look so yummy!

    Reply
  32. Oh my goodness! These look amazingly good. I’ve had these many years ago, but have forgotten what they taste like. Will have to try making this at home!

    Reply
  33. These are adorable, and look absolutely delicious! Cheese pastries sound so good, and I love your demo of how to fold them!

    Reply
  34. OMG, these look spectacular!! Could I make them with paneer if I can’t find the akkawi cheese or kashkaval? I am DYING for one right now! BTW..love your new photography venture and post idea! Looking forward to them!

    Reply
  35. Hello! i`m so happy that I found your blog! Wonderful recipies with really nice pictures! Wish you a happy day!

    Reply
  36. This is so beautiful dear Sawsan, and you really did great post with all these details. Thank you, as soon as I want to try this on.e. How made me hungry now :)
    Have a nice day and week, with my love, nia

    Reply
  37. I love this, I love this, I love this. Your cheese pastry looks absolutely amazing. I definitely have to save this recipe

    Reply
  38. WOW! These look absolutely delicious! How can you beat tasty cheeses stuffed inside warm yeast bread?!?! Delicious!

    Reply
  39. I absolutely love the fact that the pastry is stuffed in the center and not just stuffed with any old thing but the most amazing and delicious yummy stuff! Awesome

    Reply
  40. Oh I wouldn’t mind a few of these for breakfast this morning! I’ll have to bookmark these.

    Reply
  41. I think it’s so sad that you are not my neighbor. I would really love to stop by for a couple of those gorgeous, gorgeous cheese pastries. I am so happy you showed us the step-by-step on how to shape them. That was my first question as I started to read the post. Have a very wonderful week ahead!

    Reply
    • Wouldn’t be great if we all lived in one neighbourhood..Life would be one tasty adventure then :)
      Glad the step by step helped I just thought that words alone would make it look too complicated

      Reply
  42. Lovely recipe!Thanks for visiting my blog.I’d love to try out some of your awesome creations here.Beautiful pics as well!

    Reply
  43. I adore this recipe and I love the step by step. Far superior to the odds and ends of pastry from her baking that my granny used to make “cheese straws” with!

    Reply
  44. My teenagers would just love these as an afternoon snack. Not to get off topic but love your marble countertops just perfect for making breads. Take Care, BAM

    Reply
  45. This is a fantastic combination that I know I will love. Your photos are so beautiful!

    Reply
  46. Wonderful dish, and a perfect snack! I am a big fan of cheese pastry, and had the chance to try Fatayer jenbeh once, a friend has served them on a party. Delicious! Highest time to try to make them at home :) Love your first picture, Sawsan, it is SO inviting!!!

    Reply
  47. Mmm, I can smell them baking now (I wish)! I think I would love them with the mint added as well. I love how the coolness of mint ‘sparks’ and balances out savory flavors so wonderfully. And anything with cheese . . . happiness!

    Reply
  48. Yummy! Cheese and bread are always a good combo – and I’m intrigued by the idea of using cilantro, too…

    Reply
  49. These look delicious and beautiful! I’ve never heard of akkawi or kashkaval cheese – what are they like?

    Reply
    • Kashkaval is a firm , yellowish white cheese with mild taste that melts really well.
      Akkawi is a white firm cheese, that is salty and used quite frequently in arabic recipes, savory and sweet.
      You can substitute them with ricotta and mozzarella but you’ll need to add some salt

      Reply
  50. These pastries are just lovely and it’s great that they are savoury. It’s difficult to tell how big they are from the photos, but I think I would make mine the small hors d’œuvres size! I am wondering what cheeses I might be able to substitute for the exotic akkawi and kashkaval? Would goats cheese and cheddar do? Or would Akkawi be more like feta?

    Reply
    • Thank you Eva, the size is really up to you, the ones in the picture are a little smaller than the palm of your hand. As for the cheese,you can try ricotta mixed with mozarella and a little salt , I think it will give a close result.

      Reply
  51. Beautiful! These definitely wouldn’t last long at our house! I can’t wait to try them!

    Reply
  52. Oh so excited to see this one and finally know what it is. They look awesome.

    Reply
  53. These sound really good, Sawsan! The combination of salty cheese with freshly baked dough must taste incredible! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  54. These look like they could quickly become my favorite snack – bread and cheese. Delicious! I like the addition of cilantro too – I wouldn’t have thought of that, but I know I would enjoy it.

    Reply
    • We love them here too Kristy, for breakfast, lunch or dinner or just a snack with tea
      Cilantro and cheese is a combo you see a lot in salads and other recipes here in the middle east, the cilantro adds freshness, flavor and color

      Reply
  55. Sawsan these are fantastic! I so want to make them … but I am not sure if I can find all those cheeses in my little town … is there anything I can substitute for akkawi and kashkaval?

    Reply
    • I think ricotta and mozarella will work well instead of the akkawi and maybe some colby instead of the kashkaval
      If you do give it a go I would love to hear what you think

      Reply
  56. These pastries look divine! The dough looks so soft. I could go for one of these at 7am, ha! :)

    Reply
  57. They are so beautiful, I like this shape. Thanks for the recipe. Have a nice day.

    Reply
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