open meat pies

a salad with open meat pies sfiha

These open meat pies are much simpler to make than their initial appearance might suggest. We’ve adapted Sami Tamimi‘s recipe from Falastin to show that it’s a great way of stretching a little bit of meat. It only needs 250g of lamb mince, and the pomegranate molasses added to it gives the meat not just flavour but puts it centre stage. Apart from the tomato and the parsley, the other ingredients are store cupboard items.  So, what might look a bit laborious, is actually a cunning way of producing something from nothing! 

In Lebanon open meat pies exist in many formats. Sfiha from Baalbek are beautifully shaped small squares of thin dough filled with seasoned lamb.  Elsewhere, lahmé bi aajeen are bigger and more like a pizza – thin dough, cooked quickly, with a generous squeeze of lemon and the option of chilli on top. These open meat pies are plumper, the dough is softer and absorbs the juices well. They make great party food.  However, if you’d normally have a pizza on a Friday night, but don’t fancy the hassle, these are much less complicated and everyone gets to eat at the same time! Feel free to add more of the spices or pomegranate molasses to get more flavour out of the lamb. 

If you make the dough in the afternoon, these will be ready to eat for supper. 

makes 12 


1 1/2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp honey
170ml luke warm water
320g plain flour
3 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tbsp Zejd extra virgin olive oil

250g lamb mince
1 small onion (100g) finely chopped
1 tomato(120g)  finely chopped
2 tbsp Zejd pomegranate molasses
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1  tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp Aleppo chilli flakes
15g parsley finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sumac
20g pine nuts (optional)


  1. Make the dough first. Put the yeast, honey, and water in a small bowl and mix with your finger to combine. Leave for 5 minutes for it to create a soft foam. 
  2. Put the flour and 3/4 tsp of salt into a free-standing mixer with a dough hook.  Mix for a minute to combine. Then add the yeast mixture.  Slowly add both oils on a low speed. When the mixture has come together, increase the speed to medium and continue for 6 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl, use a little olive oil to grease the insides of the bowl and replace the dough. Make sure it is covered in oil, by turning it around the bowl. Cover with a clean dishcloth, and leave until doubled in size. 
  3. Roll into a sausage shape, 30cm long. Cut into 12 even pieces approximately 45g each. Roll each one into a ball, place on a board dusted with flour, cover, and leave to rest for 20 minutes while you prepare the topping. 
  4. Put all the ingredients for the topping into another bowl, except for the pine nuts. Mix thoroughly with your hands, make sure all the ingredients are dispersed evenly.  
  5. Flatten the balls of dough to about 7cm in diameter, 2 cm thick, using your fingers.  Place on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Make a well in the centre for the meat. 
  6. Spoon enough meat into the well, probably a heaped tablespoon. Set aside for 10 minutes and switch on the oven to 200 degrees fan. 
  7. Bake for 18 minutes, turning the tray around halfway for an even bake. 

Serve warm or room temperature alongside a wedge of lemon and a crisp green salad. 

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