I thought it would be nice to re-share some of the recipes I had on my old site and where better to start than one of my absolute favourites, Sfhia.
I was very lucky to spend time sampling and learning about Middle Eastern food when we lived in Qatar. When we were there, I did a series of recipes on my website, sharing my takes on the things we were experiencing. The recipe that inspired this was from wonderful book, The Flavours of Arabia and it was absolutely lovely when followed to a ‘T’, but to me, in that form, seemed more like a snack than a meal. The bread was lovely and the minced lamb topping delicious, but I felt for it to be a meal in and of itself, it just needed a few tweaks. I’ve changed the dough, but only slightly, just added a second rising to refine the texture a little, and I’ve decided to pre-cook the meat mixture so that the crumb of the bread can retain a tiny bit of softness by cooking at a hotter temperature, faster. Other than that, I’ve added a few ingredients, but I tried to keep them very sympathetic to the region and I’m really pleased with how all the flavours came together.
After all these years, I’m still excited about this one.
Sfiha ~ Syrian Pizza
For the Dough:
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp (10g) dried yeast
¾ cup (175ml) warm water
2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil
For the filling:
500g minced lamb
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp red pepper
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp ground ginger
The seeds from 2 green cardamom pods, ground (you can use a mortar and pestle, or, if you don’t have one, grind the seeds on a chopping boards with the bottom of a heavy frying pan)
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp (60ml) natural yogurt
3 tbsp (45ml) pomegranate molasses
For the toppings:
200g feta cheese
A handful fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 cup fresh Pomegranate seeds
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup natural yogurt
¼ cup (60ml) pomegranate molasses
- Pour the water into the bowl you’ll use for mixing the bread dough, sprinkle with the yeast, and allow to stand for 10 minutes until the yeast is active.
- Measure the flour into a separate bowl (or keep it in the measuring cup if you have one large enough), add the salt and stir thoroughly.
- Add the flour to the yeast & water mixture a little at a time until a dough starts forming, when the dough becomes of a consistency to handle, lightly flour your hands, turn the contents of the bowl out on to a clean work surface and continue to knead the rest of the flour into the bread until the dough is still slightly sticky, but does not stick to the counter. (The amount of moisture needed to make bread dough a proper consistency will change based on the particular flour you have and other conditions such as humidity, temperature, and altitude, because of this you may need to either leave a bit of the flour out or add a little more in.) Knead for 10 minutes.
- Shape the dough into a ball, rub a little olive oil all over it, place the dough in a large bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place to raise until double in size, approximately one hour.
- ‘Knock back’ the dough by giving it a couple quick punches (always fun) to release the some of the built-up carbon dioxide, then turn the dough out on to the counter and knead for a minute. Divide the dough up into pieces about the size of a golf ball, shape into nice little spheres, rub with olive oil and place back into the bowl to raise again. Cover again, let stand 30 minutes. In the meantime, make the filling.
For the filling:
- Combine all the filling ingredients and mix well.
- In frying pan, over medium heat, gently cook the meat mixture though. Remove from heat and set aside.
Back to the dough & the finishing touches:
- Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) and grease a baking sheet.
- Roll each piece of dough into a rectangle about 3mm thick and then pinch the ends to make a boat like structure. Place each little boat on the baking sheet, fill with a couple spoonfulls of the meat mixture, and a top with a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese.
- Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and from the baking tray. Top with a few small dollops of the yogurt, a scattering of pine nuts and pomegranate seeds, a little bit of the coriander (cilantro), and finish with a drizzle of the pomegranate syrup.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!