YFAWI SFEEHA Blog-checking lines: The July Daring Bakers’ Challenge was brought to us by Manal from Manal’s Bites. She introduced us to an authentic Palestinian dish from Jaffa 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. Life has a way of levelling you out, rolling you up tight, turning you into spirals, and baking you in a hot, hot oven until you come out well-browned and good enough to eat. I am drawing parallels between my clash with the flu and this beautiful baked dish. I have been flattened by the flu, been rolling in pain and baked by fever in a hot oven….. but well like the Yafawi Sfeeha I have come out smelling well baked, a bit pale and stronger. So this was such an apt challenge for me, I had been aching for a month to get on track, bake my heart out and key into my blog but life stuck out a leg on my smooth course and got me tripping. So I am back and ready to take on the kitchen. The July challenge was hosted by Manal Obieda, known as Manal’s Bites. The dish “Yafawi Sfeeha” (translation: meat pies from Jaffa) is an authentic dish from Jaffa in Palestine. They are traditional meat pies rolled in a thin pastry and formed into spirals and baked. There are vegetarian and sweet versions too. The pastry dough is easy to make and the taste of ghee (clarified butter) is a big plus, I urge you to throw the calories out of the door and use ghee liberally and not oil. The dough balls need to be rested for a good 12-14 hours as they become stretchy and easier to flatten with your fingers. More ghee needed here (LOL). I must warn you this flattening bit is tedious and requires patience and a “keep at it attitude”. Manal talks of making these pies at celebratory lunches where women gathered around and contributed to the process…..now I know why they made it when more hands were expected 🙂 Fold the edge of the flattened disc right upto the center…since I missed out on that detail some of my filling spilled out. Brush with more melted ghee before baking. Mr.13 was rolling his eyes and wondering what was wrong with his “oil-stingy” mother. My meat version had a spicy chicken mince and the non-meat version had cottage cheese and some cheddar enhanced with pepper, a pinch of cardamom and nutmeg powders and some finely chopped mint and parsley. Throw in some raisins and chopped nuts. The baking time in the original recipe is 14-15 minutes but my spirals took about 21 mins, to look brown and well baked. I hate light pale looking pies, reminds me of clear soup on a sick day. Serve them with a Garlic Yogurt Dip or be lazy and squirt some ketchup onto them, they taste just as good. I would say it’s a sort of comfort food that I required after those days of gulping down insipid stuff and a little ghee indulgence never harmed anybody….. how else am I going to get my strength back! 🙂
RECIPE YAFAWI SFEEHA
Servings: 10-12 pieces
To make the dough:
3 cups (420 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour, scoop flour using cup measure then level
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon 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).
Note: I skipped the milk powder and instead substituted half the water with milk. I did use a tablespoon or 2 of extra water to bring the dough together
300 grms. ground chicken
1 large onion coarsely chopped
4-5 garlic pods crushed/ grated or finely chopped
1 teaspoon red chilly powder
2 teaspoons corriander powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint and parsley
1 tablespoon oil Salt to taste
Non-meat Filling 200 grms cottage cheese/ haloumi
2-3 tablespoons Cheddar cheese
A generous pinch of pepper, cardommon, nutmeg powder
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons each of finely chopped parsley and mint (optional)
Making the dough and pastry:
- Mix flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil then start adding the warm water until you get a soft and slightly sticky dough. Knead well until the dough feels soft and elastic. Add a tablespoon or 2 of warm water or milk if the dough appears dry.
- 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).
- Prepare filling in the meantime.
- After you have your filling ready, use some of the ghee to brush a round tray or an inverted tray works better (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. Start from the center to the sides.
- Once that is done fold the upper side to the middle, then fold the opposite side to the middle as well.
- Spread the 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).
- Put some more ghee on the baking sheet and place the done Sfeeha onto the baking sheet. Continue making the rest of the Sfeeha using ghee to keep it nice and moist.
- Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and bake Sfeeha for 21-25 minutes till golden brown. Serve hot with Yogurt and garlic Dip.
Prepare the Filling:
- For the meat/chicken filling fry the onions in 1 tblspoon oil until transculent, add in the garlic and the dry spices. Lower the heat and add a ¼ cup water to prevent the spices from burning. Fry for 2-3 mins. Add the mince and sauté on medium heat stirring constantly and breaking any lumps. Add a little water to moisten the meat , cover and lower the heat and let it cook till mince is cooked. The mixture should be dry. Add in the chopped herbs and salt. Stir well to mix.
- For the cottage cheese filling, mix all the ingredients in a bowl with your finger ensuring that they are well mixed.