Lahm bi 3ajeen or sfeeha are delicious and savory meat pies that are eaten all over Lebanon, usually as part of a mezze spread, a side dish, or just as a snack. What makes them so mouthwateringly tasty is that the raw lamb (more traditional) or beef cooks inside the dough, not separately from it. This allows all the flavorful meat juices to be absorbed by the dough, yielding an amazing flavor. For me, making and eating these exquisite meat pies takes me back to when I was young in my mother’s kitchen. Whenever she made these meat pies, the intoxicating aroma filled the house, as we all gathered to devour them.
LEBANESE MEAT PIES – LAHM BI 3AHEEN – SFEEHA
Recipe yields about 36 to 40 small Lebanese meat pies.
BASIC DOUGH – recipe below
2 lbs ground Lamb (or beef)
1 large yellow Onion – finely chopped
6 large Garlic cloves – grated or finely minced
2 tablespoons Italian Parsley – finely chopped
4 Roma Tomatoes – finely chopped and drained
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Tahini
1/4 cup Labneh or Greek style yogurt
3 tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses (optional)
1 tablespoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 tablespoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 teaspoons Sumac
2 Lemons – juiced
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil – for brushing pies
LEMON WEDGES – to serve with the finished Lebanese meat pies
In a large bowl, combine the lamb, finely chopped onion, grated garlic, finely chopped parsley, finely chopped and drained tomatoes, tomato paste, tahini, labneh, pomegranate molasses, salt, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, sumac, and lemon juice. Cover the lamb mixture with plastic wrap, and allow to sit in the refrigerator until the dough is made and has risen.
Make the dough and allow it to rise.
Now that you are ready to make the pies, roll out the dough on a lightly floured clean surface. Using a round cookie cutter of your choice, cut the dough into rounds. Remove the lamb mixture from the refrigerator. Scoop about one tablespoon of the mixture into the middle of the dough rounds. Do not overstuff the dough. Pinch the two opposing ends of the round dough, making sure the stuffing stays in the middle. Then pinch the other two opposing ends, forming an open square. Repeat until all the dough is stuffed with the lamb mixture.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place all the meat pies on a lightly greased baking sheet. With a pastry brush, lightly brush all the pies with extra virgin olive oil. Place the meat pies in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the meat is cooked and the pies are golden. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges or yogurt. Enjoy!
3 cups all purpose Flour – plus a little extra for dusting
1 teaspoon coarse Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus a little extra for finished dough
1 – 1 1/2 cups warm Water – depending on humidity
1 pkg rapid rise Instant Yeast – about 2 1/4 oz
*You may use regular active dry yeast, but you will have to proof the yeast in the warm water and sugar before you add it to the flour, salt, and olive oil. I like using rapid rise, because it is much easier and takes less time for the dough to rise.
Combine the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar in a stand mixer, and turn it on low. Add the extra virgin olive oil, and slowly add in the warm water. Start with a cup; should you require more, add a little drizzle at a time. If your dough is too moist, add more flour. Turn the stand mixer to medium low and keep kneading the dough for about 10 minutes, until it is smooth and pulls away from the bowl.
On a clean board, sprinkle some flour and transfer the dough to the floured board. Roll into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Drizzle a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil to coat the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it a warm dark place to rise for about an hour to an hour and a half.