Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Palestinian Sfiha.......Mood = Nostalgia

My grandmother Najla, (God rest her soul) was one of the most wonderful cooks. She was not only looking after 11 children on her own, but managed to bring them all up to be wonderful people who cherished her till her last day. She passed down, love, courage, strength and most importantly, her love of cooking which brought the whole family together. She had 9 daughters and the image of all of them cooking together would be worth a million pictures.

My auntie Shahla, was the master of this dish and right up till she passed away last year i was asking her about this recipe. Although she gave to me, it never tasted the same. The touch of her work and hand on such delicious foods cannot be replicated, but imitated.

This dish reminds me of my granny, my auntie, my mum and her sisters who always come for a visit and always always make batches of this and put them in the freezer for moments of future nostalgia.

Although it may look simple, the actual flattening of the dough and rolling it out to almost paper thin, and then folding it like a snail are the tricky part. You dont want it to be too thick otherwise the dough will be too stodgy. You want it to literally crisp and flake in your mouth.

So my mums recipe is not easy to follow because it is a pinch of this, a coffee cup of that and tea cup of this and you get the picture. so i had to improvise and i think it turned out pretty good.

The main ingredient in this dish is SUMAC. It is made of crushed little red berries that have a citrus tang to them and have this beautiful aubergene colour when crushed. It is used on so many dishes, like musakhan, and fattoush salad for instance. Very verstaile and very tasty.


750g Flour
350ml water

500g Lamb mince
3 onions diced
40-50g Sumac
Olive oil


  • Make the dough by simply putting it in the kitchen aid and combining the water and flour together. You want a soft dough that is a little sticky but stays together. Cut it into about 15-20 balls and lay it on a well oiled tray. And cover with clingfilm. This is just to let it rest. It will not rise.

  • In the meantime, make you filling by chopping 3 onions into cubes and frying them off. Add the mince and season. Add the sumac and taste. I added too much salt and to try and counter act that, i added half a lemon. It worked, a little.
  • Mix well till everything is brown and the flavour is as you wish. It should have a little peppery feel with that gorgeous tang at the end.
  • When it is ready, let it cool down.
  • Get your dough balls and flatten them out gently. Do not use flour. Use olive oil to stop it from sticking. And spread as much as you can. Once almost thin, fold on half over the next and fill with a little meat mix from top to bottom.
  • Roll over the dough to cover the meat and swirl around like a snail.
  • Place on baking sheet and do the same with the rest.
  • Cook in a hot oven at around 220 degrees for about 15 minutes till they have browned slightly. If you are making a big batch, cook them half way let them cool and place them in the freezer. They keep very well.

It always nice to have a little piece of nostalgia in your home and especially in your fridge.

Any dishes you like that remind you of something special?


pav said...

Dinner!! :))

Joudie's Mood Food said...

No! We are having avgolemono for dinner... xxxx

Tania Khreino said...

Jouds I love your blog it just gets better and better! You have become an expert at food as well as web design, please help me set up my own!!!! I have so many people who come up to me and tell me that they love your blog and that it has inspired them to start cooking again or for the first time. well done babes I am p...roud of you xxxxxx i love sfiha gonna try it out myself xx

tasteofbeirut said...

This is a wonderful sfeeha recipe and masterully executed! I did not know about it made with sumac so I am excited to learn this version. The dough sounds like a strudel dough. Your grandmother sounds like an exceptional human being!

Joudie's Mood Food said...

Tania, thank you so much. I love my blog and i love my food.... :)
I will definitely help wyou with your blog, just let me know what you want. Try the recipe it was amazing. xx

Joudie's Mood Food said...

Hi Tasteof beirut. This is a lovely recipe and sumac has always been used by my grandmother int his recipe. I dont know it any other way. You should definitley have a go at making this. I am sure you must have a recipe already. My grandmother was a wonderful woman and through her recipes we have her with us all the time....

Lara K said...

yummy i miss that !!!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Amazing recipe. I saw jamie Oliver making something like this on tv last night (but a sweet version). It looks beautiful. I wish you would send me some ;).
*kisses* HH

Joudie's Mood Food said...

HH, Hello. Oh really, what filling did he use? These are lovely and if i could, i would send you some...But im afraid they are all gone... x

Yasmine said...


HappyTummy said...

wow, this looks fantastic! i love that there is a distinct food memory that goes with this. there are so many things my mom and grandmother used to make when i was growing up that still remind me of them.

love the pictures of your food :)

Joudie's Mood Food said...

HT, Thank you for the comment. Everything i do reminds me of someone, something, somewhere. The food that means the most to me is what i cook when i miss my mother. This is one of those dishes. Im glad you liked it. I think Your blog is divine!