Ramadan recipe: fatayer el sabanich – spinach pies

Throughout the holy month, 'The National' is teaming up with Table Tales to share daily recipes to experiment with at home

Join The National and Table Tales on a culinary journey around the Middle East to savour the quintessential dishes that embody the spirit of Ramadan. From table staples to family favourites, this series of recipes – one for each day of Ramadan – pays homage to the holy month and the home cook alike.

Fatayer is as much a symbol of Levantine cuisine as hummus, fattoush or lentil soup. The bite-sized pies can be filled with meat, cheese or, commonly, spinach, as demonstrated in Ousama Ghannoum’s recipe.

The inclusion of an egg wash is optional, which means these parcels can easily be made to cater to any vegan friends this Ramadan.

“These delicious fatayer are a must at Ramadan iftars, but also during Lent,” says Ghannoum. “I have experimented with many dough recipes and finally settled on this one, which doesn’t contain dairy.

“It is less crunchy than the dough recipes with corn flour, which hold a perfect pyramid shape. These are softer and freeze better, so well worth the effort to make them in large batches. The other key tip is to thoroughly dry the spinach – no shortcuts there.”

Ousama Ghannoum's fatayer el sabanich (spinach pies). Table Tales / Ousama Ghannoum 
Ousama Ghannoum's fatayer el sabanich (spinach pies). Table Tales / Ousama Ghannoum

Ousama Ghannoum's fatayer el sabanich – spinach pies

Makes 40

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 280g all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 240ml water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 400g baby spinach
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely ground
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup sumac
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Ousama Ghannoum's fatayer el sabanich (spinach pies). Credit: Table Tales / Ousama Ghannoum
Ousama Ghannoum prepares fatayer el sabanich (spinach pies). Courtesy Table Tales / Ousama Ghannoum

Method for the dough:

  1. Add all of the dough ingredients to a large bowl and mix.
  2. Knead the dough by hand, or using a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, until it is smooth and elastic.
  3. Let the dough rest in an uncovered bowl for 10 to 15 minutes.

Method for the filling:

  1. Roughly chop the baby spinach, rinse and, if needed, strain, then place it in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt to draw out the moisture, then set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the spinach dry using a kitchen towel. It is important that the spinach is thoroughly dry before preparing the filling.
  4. Place the spinach in a medium bowl and add the remaining filling ingredients. Mix well and season to taste.

Method for assembly:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and place the oven rack in the middle. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or brush with oil.
  2. Divide the dough into four pieces. On a floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll out a piece of the dough into a thin circle.
  3. Cut circles of about five to six centimetres using a cookie cutter or rim of a glass.
  4. Place about one tablespoon of the filling in the middle of dough. Bring two sides together and pinch to close. Bring the third side up so it looks like a triangle and again, pinch to close. Make sure all three sides are properly sealed. Repeat this process for the remaining dough. Note: the fatayer can be frozen at this stage.
  5. Place the fatayer on the baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops with a beaten egg, right before baking. This step can be skipped to make the dish vegan.
  6. Bake the fatayer for 10 minutes, then finish under the grill for an additional two to five minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
  7. Remove them from the tray and repeat the process with the next batch.

This dish has been brought to you by Ousama Ghannoum and curated by international recipe hunter Hanan Sayed Worrell, author of Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi. The Table Tales concept celebrates the people and stories that give flavour to recipes of the Middle East.


Read more:

Ramadan recipes: daily dishes to try from the 'Table Tales' series

Ramadan recipe: Tunisian brik with shrimp

Ramadan recipe: Sambousa puff – pastry with meat, cheese and herbs


Published: May 6, 2021 03:35 PM


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