Meat pies (Sfeeha)

April 21, 2009  •  Category: ,

One time, my grandmother Teta Nabiha came to visit us in France. She marvelled at the flowers growing by the side of the streets and how clean everything was. She went into the kitchen and in no time at all fixed some sfeeha for us. I watched her stretch the little balls of dough with a dab of olive oil, then when the little pies were the size she wanted fill them up oh so delicately with the meat, onion and pine nuts.

When I moved to the States this was the first thing I attempted in our tiny kitchen in San Luis Obispo, California. A few years later, going back to Lebanon, I found out about a new version of sfeeha that was called baalbakyeh, from Baalbeck , the first tourist destination because of the amazing Roman temples and amphitheater and the site of the biggest festival in Lebanon.

Folks in Baalbeck  add pomegranate molasses and a dab of tahini with some yogurt and this combination is a killer! If you don’t have time to make the dough, no problem, get a frozen pizza dough or use some frozen biscuits.  The filling can be whipped up in minutes and you will have a fabulous dish to serve at a party or to snack on when you feel the urge. In addition, you can make them in advance and either freeze them for a month or reheat them. So convenient, so delicious.


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Meat pies (Sfeeha)

Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern April 21, 2009 Savory Pastries, Mezze/Appetizers, savory pies, meat pies, tagged,

4 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 12 minutes


1 dough (See Note)


3/4 lb ground beef or lamb (a bit fatty)

Spices: 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp each of allspice, cinnamon, Aleppo pepper or paprika, dash of black pepper

1 Tbsp red pepper paste (optional)

1/4 cup tomato paste OR 4 tomatoes diced small

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses

3 Tbsp tahini

3 Tbsp labneh (or drained yogurt or Greek yogurt)

1/2 tsp garlic paste

1 large yellow onion, diced fine

1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds, toasted or fried

To serve: 2 cups yogurt and 2 lemons, quartered



  1. While the dough is resting and rising, get the stuffing ready. Mix the meat with all the other ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate till dough is ready.
  2. Transfer the dough to a floured work counter and roll it till thin (about 1/8") then cut into 3" rounds with a glass or cookie cutter.
  3. Get the meat mixture and stir it a bit. Take a tablespoon at a time with an ice-cream scooper  if you have one (makes the job easier) and lay it on each circle. Pinch opposite ends of the circle to form a square shape and raise the edges of the pie. This will enclose the filling to prevent it from oozing out.
  4. Lift out the pies with a spatula and place on a cookie sheet greased or lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the pies with pine nuts or almonds, and press the filling with the back of a spoon or the spatula to make sure the nuts adhere. Bake in a 375F oven till golden, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with a bowl of yogurt (to share, scooping out a spoonful onto the pies) or some lemons to squeeze the juice onto the pies.

Recipe Notes

To make a batch of dough (to use for this recipe or to make zaatar manaeesh or any type of pizza)

1 cup warm water (can use milk instead)

2 tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup oil

  1. Pour 1/2 cup of water into a small bowl. Add the sugar, and yeast. Mix and place in a warm enclosed place (like the microwave or in the oven) for 10 minutes until the yeast starts bubbling up.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl or mixer, add the oil and combine; add the proofed yeast and combine and add enough water to get a firm and moist dough. Knead it for 5 minutes till smooth.
  3. Let it rise in a bowl by covering it with some oil all around. Again, a good place would be the oven or microwave.

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12 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. sabah says:

    waw, they look great, I really love it, I am going to try the recipe, and of course, I will tell you about the result. Thank you Joumana!

  2. Sandra says:

    One of the most tasty things i have eaten. I ate it at my Palestinian friends house and it was so amazing, but they made three diffirent types of sfeehas, the one i like the most is the one with taheene in it. So tasty. Aside from the three diffirent kinds of sfeehas, they also had one with spenach filling, and one with white cheese filling, both of them were closed. And there was another tasty vegetarian alternative but dont remember its ingredients.

    • Joumana says:

      Me too! I liked the one with taheneh and yoghurt and pomegranate molasses the most! Also, in the mountains here in the Chouf I have had it made with “kishk” as well as “bakleh” (which is a type of purslane). Can’t wait to try all these combinations soon when i get back!

  3. Fendi says:

    could you please give me the recipe of Lahm b3ajin !!! THANK YOU

  4. sam says:

    These look yummy!!!!!! My grandma’s lahm baajin is my favorite thing in the world. I always manage to sneek some in my suitcase when I leave Beirut!

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  6. Benedict Saban says:

    Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your article seem to be running off the screen in Ie. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The style and design look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon. Thanks

  7. michelle says:

    Bonjour, Can we freeze them and for how long?

  8. Debra says:

    How many does it make? It would be helpful to know. I’m making them today.

  9. Debra says:

    Loved the taste, I had to make more dough to use up the filling, so next time I will roll it thinner. I made 33 and then made more to use up the filling.

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