The magic of Safiha, Lebanese Meat Pies! - Soft, chewy dough and a crispy exterior containing spiced, juicy lamb meat with just a touch of freshness from tomato and green pepper.
My husband is Palestinian and I've made their family's meat pies several times. They top theirs with pine nuts and I love them that way. But since trying Fatima's Sfeeha from her small hometown in Lebanon, I think the zing of the green pepper and tomato adds a layer of freshness I can't do without!
Questions About Making Sfeeha
How many names are there for these Lebanese Meat Pies?
The two main names are Fatayer or Safiha. Fatayer is a more general umbrella term for Arabic pies and includes meat pies, spinach pies, and cheese pies.
Safiha is a more specific name for meat pies, most frequently containing minced lamb. Of course the word itself is Arabic. There is not a one-to-one correlation of Arabic letters to letters in the English alphabet, so any of these spellings are also accurate and common: Sfeeha, Safeeha, Safiha, Sfiha.
Where did the Safiha recipe originate?
This particular recipe is from Lebanon. However, Syrians make a popular version, as well as Palestinians, and many other Arabic speaking countries.
Are meat pies healthy?
This is a super popular question when it comes to Safiha, which baffles me. I think it's the wrong question. Sfeeha are delicious and a traditional food significant to many cultures and celebrations. Of course they can be enjoyed as part of a well-balanced diet! If you're asking how many calories and fat are in each, well, about 120 calories in each, depending of course on the size and exact recipe.
How do you shape Safiha?
It depends on the specific country, region, and family making the Safiha. Many (as in this recipe) make their Safiha into squares by pinching the corners of a round piece of dough. Others, like my husband's Palestinian family leave the pie open-faced and round. Still others pinch two corners and leave the middle round. And some families completely enclose the meat by folding three sides of the circle into a triangle.
About Fatima, Contributor of this Recipe for Lebanese Meat Pies
Fatima Mortada, my guest on Episode 68 of The Storied Recipe Podcast, was born and raised in a small, ancient town in Lebanon. Every morning at 4am, Fatima would help her father harvest vegetables they sold later that day in the market. At 16 years old, Fatima came to live in the U.S. for 5 years. She returned to Lebanon at 21, very much a changed woman. She found she no longer fit into the beloved small town where her family lived for hundreds of years.
What Safiha Mean to Fatima
I grew up in Baalbek Lebanon, a beautiful and ancient city with so much history that goes back to the Roman Empire, this Sfeeha is part of my childhood. Growing up my father used take all the kids to the old souk to buy these delicious pies and every time I make them is like a walk down memory lane. It is part of my history, every food memory and celebration in the village was associated with delicious mini meat pies.
Hear More About Safiha in Choosing Freedom with Fatima Mortada
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