Fatayer… I can’t explain to you how much I love this fat-full, carb-full, little delight. Back home in Syria, on the days you feel like it, you wake up, wash up, wear your clothes and head down to the “bakery” and order x-amount of pieces of “fatayer”. The whole ritual is so appeasing; the crispy fresh air and the “exercise” you get completely remove any guilty conscious feelings you may have about eating haloumi cheese and white dough first thing in the morning, with a huge cuppa tea and three sugars (if not four, that is).
Fatayer are little Middle Eastern pies stuffed with meat, cheese, or spinach. Here Down Under, I’ve tried making this little pastry a few times, with every attempt bringing me closer to the ultimate fatayer pie. By ultimate, I must admit, I mean replica to the ones you get from Middle Eastern bakeries. And this might sound a bit silly, but why I’m stressing about it so much is because bakeries in Syria don’t do these pies in ovens, the do them in open fire ovens (like oo-la-la).
Below, so far, is the best recipe I’ve made. It replicates the original eye-shaped pies you get, and tastes almost like them. Like 90% almost. Only these ones that I’ve made are a mini version of the palm-sized pies you get. Perfect for hors d’Oeuvres parties.
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup + 1/8 cup warm water
1/8 cup plain yoghurt
1/8 tsp instant dry yeast
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
10 sprigs parsley, chopped
1 3/4 cup finely grated haloumi cheese (substitute with A’kawi or bocconcini + tsp salt)
Place the cheese and parsley into a bowl and mix to combine.
Add flour, yoghurt, water, oil, sugar, salt and yeast into another bowl and knead for a minimum of 5 minutes to form a pliable dough.
Set aside to rise for 40 minutes.
Lightly grease two baking trays and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Break the dough into golf-sized pieces and roll into thin oblongs.
Place a levelled tablespoon of the haloumi cheese along the centre of oblong.
Fold over the long sides and pinch the two ends to form an eye shape.
Press down firmly (on the whole pie) with the palm of your hand, then transfer onto a baking tray.
Repeat this until the dough and mixture is finished.
Let rise again for 30 minutes and reshape the dough if necessary.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges become golden.
Set aside to cool slightly before serving.