While Lebanon is known for its culture, beautiful landscape, and deep history, if you have never tasted their fatayer, you don’t know what you are missing. Lebanon is also popular for its food, as food plays an important role in their culture. It is among their greatest loves and Lebanese view food as a key to their good health. It is also an integral part of their family and social lives.
To them, sharing a meal with family and friends is one of the best things, especially when the meal is as delicious as their cultural cuisine. One such celebrated food is the fatayer, which is a staple in most regions within the country.
Fatayer means pie in Arabic. This pie is stuffed with either sweet or cottage cheese or meat or simply with spinach. In this article, you will learn the origin of the fatayer, the different ways of making this delicious pastry, and an easy-to-follow recipe.
Lebanese Fatayer (Origin and Curiosities)
Lebanese fatayer is an Arabic dish that originated from Lebanon. Fatayer is also known as “fitiir”. It is among the most popular Lebanese cuisine mezze. The small stuffed pie is a big part of the Arabian cuisine, mainly enjoyed in Turkey and all Middle East countries that were under the Ottoman Empire. These countries include Egypt, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Iraq.
Over the years, the Lebanese recipe has not changed much, which gives this pastry authenticity. People enjoy fatayer at breakfast time. However, the pie/pastry is delicious, and you can enjoy it as a snack at any time of the day.
Fatayers Different Varieties in the Middle East
There are different varieties of fatayers from the Middle East. These options favor both non-vegetarians and vegetarians. If you don’t mind eating eat, you can stuff your fatayer with minced meat. Vegetarians can choose either spinach or cheese as their fillings.
The most common fatayer varieties are fatayer sabanekh, which is made with spinach filling, and fatayer jibneh made with cheese filling. Fatayer sabanekh contains few ingredients. Apart from spinach, it also needs onions and sumac. Some people also prepare the filling with pomegranate molasses, olives, brown sugar, and pine nuts.
Cheese fatayer is filled with mild cheeses, including feta and some parsley. They do not have a lot of ingredients. The simplicity makes it more delicious.
For your fatayer dough, you have two choices. You can go for a dough between the shortcrust pastry and puff pastry or go for the second option that includes using baker’s yeast to make a pizza-like dough for your pies.
Fatayer means pastries while sabanekh means spinach. Fatayer sabanekh, therefore, means spinach pastries. These triangular pastries are a Levantine cuisine staple enjoyed mostly in Lebanon. To prepare them, you stuff homemade dough with onions, fresh onions, and other delicious ingredients for irresistible pies.
A mouthwatering mezze, you will find these fatayers alongside hummus, kibbe, and Lahm bi ajeen appetizers. These pies are triangular, and the perfect Lebanese appetizer, finger food, and mezze.
They make for the perfect appetizers, kids’ school snacks, picnics finger foods, and snacks for your home parties or events. Your guests will enjoy them as they are delicious and filling. Fatayer sabanekh are also great for breakfast, lunch, or a grab-and-go snack when in a hurry.
The pies’ filling is extremely healthy, and a clever way to get your children eating more greens. For the perfect fatayer sabanekh, squeeze some lemon and add some Sumac and salt to enhance its taste. The recipe is simple and great for anyone with a tight budget.
You can store these pastries in an airtight container in your fridge, where they will last weeks. Alternatively, you can freeze them. Whenever you wish to enjoy some, just thaw them and toss them in the microwave. They will still be tender and soft as when they were freshly baked.
Fatayer Recipe (Lebanese)
Since you can prepare fatayer in various ways, here are two recipes.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 21/4 tsp. instant yeast
- A cup of warm water
- 11/2 tsp. salt
- ½ tbsp.. sugar
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- For the Filling
- 2 lemons
- 800 grams spinach leaves
- 1 chopped medium onion
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp. sumac
- Add warm water in a small bowl, yeast, salt, and half a cup of flour, and stir well. Set it aside to allow the mixture to start bubbling.
- In another bowl, add salt, olive oil, and two cups of flour and mix them with a spoon
- Transfer the bubbly mixture to this bowl and mix the ingredients until they are well combined. Start kneading the dough on a lightly floured work surface.
- Knead your dough for around ten minutes and then form a dough ball. Let it sit in the bowl for an hour or until it doubles in size while covered with a clean kitchen towel. (It should be in a warm place to help the dough rise).
- To prepare your filling, chop the spinach and squeeze out its juice a little. Saute the chopped onions with your spinach, add salt, lemon, and sumac, and wait until the spinach juices dry out in the heat.
- Once the dough ball has doubled in size, cut it into small balls and keep them covered with a towel to avoid drying out. Roll each ball into a circle and make a triangular pocket.
- Fill your pockets with spinach and seal them well. Transfer the triangles on a baking sheet and brush them with a beaten egg or almond milk for a beautiful golden color.
- Bake your fatayers at 200 degrees Celcius on the middle rack for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool or serve them hot.
Cheese Fatayers Recipe
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 11/2 tsp. instant yeast
- 2 tbsp. Full-fat yogurt
- 11/2 tsp. granulated sugar
- 60ml canola or olive oil
- 1 cup warm whole milk
- For the Filling
- 200 grams feta cheese
- 200 grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 small egg
- 1 tsp. nigella seeds
- 2 tbsp. parsley chopped
For the Dough
In a large bowl, add sugar, flour, and yeast and mix well. Next add oil, salt, warm milk, and yogurt into your flour mixture and combine the ingredients well. Place your dough on a flat surface and knead it for ten minutes. Next, place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover it with a damp kitchen towel or cling film. Leave the dough in a warm spot undisturbed for 30 minutes for it to rise. In the meantime, start making your fatayer filling.
For the Filling
Slice the feta cheese into small cubes and place it in a small bowl. Add some cold water into the bowl and let the cheese soak for 15 minutes. Change the water and repeat the process twice to help remove some of the saltness in the feta cheese.
After the third time, drain all the water and in a medium-sized bowl, crumble the cheese. Now, add one egg, the grated mozzarella cheese, and mix the ingredients until well combined.
Split the cheese mixture into two and place in small bowls. To one bowl, add the chopped parsley and one teaspoon of nigella seeds into the other bowl. Mix the ingredients well.
Now, you need to start bringing the ingredients together to make your fatayers.
- Start by preheating your oven at 200 degrees Celcius
- Once your dough has rested for 30 minutes, punch it down to get rid of all the air. Divide the dough into small pieces to make small pies.
- Roll out every dough piece into a small oval shape
- Scoop ½ tablespoon of the filling and put it into the center of your dough piece. Spread the filling out.
- Lift one side of the dough and proceed to press the bottom and top ends well until the pie is properly sealed
- Repeat the process to the other dough’s edge and make a boat shape
- Place your raw fatayers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with a cling wrap. Leave them in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes.
- Once they have risen, put them in the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the edges turn slightly golden
- Serve your fatayers warm
- If you don’t eat eggs, you can replace them with 2-3 tablespoons of cream or mashed potatoes
- If you don’t have mozzarella cheese, you can replace it with akkawi cheese
What to Serve Fatayers With
Although you can eat fatayer on their own without any accompaniments, some people prefer to make it a complete meal. You can serve your spinach fatayer for breakfast, dinner, or as finger foods when entertaining guests. Most people prefer to serve the Lebanese spinach pies with cheese, hot tea, and dipping sauces, such as hummus.
Also, since this dish is also considered finger food, you can serve it with bread or other pastries. Mostly, they pair well with other delicious bread and pastry recipes, including mini pizza, zaatar, cheese roll, or other small bread.
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