Today I am making meat pizzas to store in the freezer. Ever since my children left home for college, I have developed this habit of preparing breads of all kinds before hand. I want to enjoy my kids when they visit, and most of all; I want to pack for them a small parcel of their favourites. As breads usually freeze well, I keep quite a variety in my treasure box downstairs in the cellar.
The dough of these small sfihas is very malleable and easy to work with. I roll it thin on a slightly floured surface and cut it in round shapes. The meat topping with green pepper, onions, garlic, parsley and tomatoes is wonderfully flavoured with ground coriander, cumin, lemon juice and Tabasco. The taste reminds me so much of lahm bi 3ajeen we used to buy at one of the best Armenian snack bars in Beirut. Massis was our destination after a long day at the beach, or after a long day of studying while in college. The place was always full. Hungry people waiting patiently in line, “the Lebanese way”, watching busy guys behind the counter making those delicious meat pizzas, baking them, then spreading pickled cucumber pieces in the middle of each pizza, rolling it and handing it over. Located on a small hill facing the Mediterranean, this snack bar was what we all call now a top insider tip.
Enough memories for now! I just can’t wait for the first tray to come out of the oven! Pickles cut and ready, I will be savouring one in a few minutes.
Sfiha Armaniyye - Meat Pizza Armenian Style
Yield 30 small pizzas
For the dough
- 500 g flour
- 2 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 250 ml lukewarm water
For the topping
- 500 g minced beef
- 4 tomatoes, 400 g tomatoes, rinsed and finely chopped
- 1 medium onion 125 g, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 green pepper 150 g, rinsed and finely chopped
- 1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, 30 g, leaves rinsed, drained and finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon crushed dried mint
- 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ Teaspoon of coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 5 drops of Tabasco or to taste
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- For the dough: Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the oil and water and mix well until the dough gathers into a ball, adding a little extra flour if it is sticky or a drizzle of water if dry. Knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and pliable. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
- For the topping: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl a few minutes before starting working your dough. You don’t want the tomatoes to lose water, do you?
- Line 3 to 4 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface to 2 mm thickness. Cut out the dough into rounds using a 10-cm round-shaped pastry cutter. Place circles on the sheet; press your fingers lightly onto the dough and spread with 1-heaped tablespoonful of the topping. Repeat procedure.
- Preheat oven (220°C, 425°F). Bake on second lower for about 20-25 minutes. Serve hot or lukewarm with Lebanese pickles.
All images and text © Dina Bayoud Kohl for Dina’s Kitchen
Courses appetizer - main course