I wish you could have tasted Asma’s fatayers! They were the best in Beirut!
The dough was so thin and translucent and so buttery. The spinach filling was melting with just the right touch of tartness.
Asma was a Kurdish lady and mother of seven, who immigrated to Lebanon from her native Kurdistan to escape persecution and misery. She was illiterate, but thanks to her superior intellect, managed to teach herself to read and write . She had had her share of tragedies. She had lost two of her young daughters as shaheed (martyrs) fighting for Kurdish rights in Turkey; she also lost a son at age 22 in Germany. Despite all of this, she always had a smile and a positive attitude. A role model.
INGREDIENTS: This quantity will make 50-70 depending on the diameter of the cutter.
3 cups Flour 00 (can be substituted for all-purpose flour)
2 cups organic pastry flour (can be substituted for all-purpose or cake or whole wheat flour)
1 Tablespoon of dry yeast (optional); Asma does not use yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
3/4 cup oil (canola, or olive oil)
1 1/2 cups water
1 lb of frozen chopped spinach (14 oz bag is fine)
1 lb of frozen collard greens (or spinach)
4 medium onions (about 12 oz.)
1/4 cup sumac
1 teaspoon paprika
pinch of cayenne (optional)
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts (optional)
Dressing for the stuffing:
1/4 cup lemon juice (bottled is OK)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 or 2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses (optional)
- Start by making the dough. Proof the yeast with 1/4 cup of warm water and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. While waiting for the yeast to proof, mix the oil with the flour (or flours, if using more than one type) in a mixer fitted with the dough hook or by hand. When the yeast has bubbled, add it to the flour mixture, and mix in the water gradually. Knead the dough until it is as smooth as baby skin. Let it rest for one hour or more, while you mix the stuffing.
- Defrost and thaw out the spinach and collard greens. Place them in a colander and squeeze them out to get 3 cups of juice, at least. You want to get them very dry.
- Chop the onions very fine and place them in a bowl. Mix in all the spices.
- Make the dressing: mix the oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses in the quantities suggested. Squeeze the onions dry and add them to the spinach and greens mixture, along with the pine nuts. Now, pour the dressing very conservatively until the greens are moistened but no more than that. If the stuffing is too wet, it will open up the turnovers.
- Cut the dough in half and spread it on a cold and greased counter as thin as possible, about 1/16 of an inch. If you can’t make them that thin, it is OK, just don’t make them too thick (no more than than 1/8in)
- Cut rounds with a 4 in. cookie cutter and start spreading one tablespoon of stuffing on each fatayer.
- Lift the fatayer and pinch 2 ends first and then the third to form a pyramid.
- Place them in greased cookie sheets and bake them after 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F. for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the top and bottoms are golden.
- Cool and eat at room temperature or slightly warm. These can be frozen for a month or longer.
A few tips: Dipping your fingertips in flour while forming the fatayers is a good idea to help seal them. Pinching the tip of the pyramid with flour will seal them better. Also, the type of flour is not as important as is stretching the dough really thin,till almost transparent. The filling is traditionally done with either spinach or purslane (bakleh) but here I have used collard greens for variety and also because it is so readily available chopped and frozen in supermarkets.