Yafawi sfeeha “spiral meat pies”

The July Daring Bakers’ Challenge was brought to us by Manal from Manal’s Bites. She introduced us to an authentic Palestinian dish from Java that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad. The “Yafawi Sfeeha” or also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet tender and full of flavor.  

Sfeeha is a popular middle eastern meat pie usually prepared through out the Levant in the form of minced meat topped flat bread. You can serve sfeeha as a main meal, a snack or a party appetizer depending on your preference and the size you make them.

Spiral meat pies

Yafawi Sfeeha is Arabic for meat pies from Jaffa (a city on the coast of Palestine). What sets these meat pies apart is their distinctive spiral shape and the fact that they are prepared from an unleavened dough.Although meat is the most popular filling, they can be prepared using other fillings like cheese and herbs or spinach. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll love them filled  with nuts and drizzled with with syrup. The possibilities are really endless

meat pies palestinian style

Yafawi Sfeeha

Servings: 11 meat pies

For the dough


To make the dough:

3 cups (750 ml) (420 gm) (15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, scoop flour using cup measure then level

1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt

1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) sugar

3 tablespoons (45 ml) powdered milk (you can substitute this with warm milk, you will need less water if using milk)

3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
About 1 cup (250 ml) warm water for kneading
Melted ghee (or olive oil) to stretch the dough (ghee gives a great texture and flavor).


1.Mix flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil then start adding the warm water until you get a tender and slightly sticky dough. Kneading will take about 8 min on a stand-up mixer or 12 min by hand. you might need more depending on where you live and the kind of flour you are using).


2.Form the dough into small golf-ball-sized balls. Place on a baking sheet that is very well greased with ghee or olive oil and pour some more (oil or ghee) over dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for few hours at least (or overnight).

3.Prepare filling in the meantime.

4.After you have your filling ready, use some of the ghee to brush a round tray (the surface that you will be working on). Take one piece of dough and using your hands, gently start spreading it as thinly and evenly as possible.

Spiral sfeeha

5.Once that is done fold the upper side to the middle, then fold the opposite side to the middle as well.

6.Spread your filling in a long line across the dough. Roll like a long tight rope making sure that it is tight enough to ensure no filling escapes. Then taking one end start rolling the rope towards the inside in a spiral shape (see photo).

7.Put some more ghee on your baking sheet and place the done Sfeeha onto the baking sheet. Continue making the rest of your Sfeeha using ghee to keep it nice and moist.


  1. Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and bake Sfeeha for 15-20 minutes till golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature with a bowl of soup during winter or a salad and Greek yogurt in summer time.

Yafawi sfeeha

Meat filling


1 pound (500 grams) ground beef, lamb or a mix of both

1 medium onion, minced

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon Middle Eastern 7 spice blend (this was covered in a previous Daring Cooks’ April 2015 challenge). If you don’t have this blend on hand just use ½ teaspoon all-spice and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.)

1 teaspoon sumaq (A Middle Eastern deep red colored and sour flavored spice) (or substitute with ¾ teaspoon lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon pepper)

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

½ cup (120 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) toasted pine nuts (optional)


In a skillet over medium heat, cook meat until no longer pink and water has evaporated, add onion and cook till it becomes tender (around 3 minutes). Season the mixture and add spices; it will be very fragrant now. Remove off heat and add sumaq and pomegranate molasses. Add toasted pine nuts if using. Let the filling cool completely before stuffing Sfeeha.

Meat pies

Storage and freezing instructions

Store Yafawi Sfeeha in an air tight container in the refrigerator and reheat them a bit when serving. Or freeze them in a single layer in the freezer for up to 3 months.