Sfiha, lahm bi’ajeen

Sfiha, lahm bi’ajeen

Flat lamb pies

The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Alan Benson

Sfiha is the Syrian equivalent of Lahm bi’Ajeen, a flat lamb pie popular throughout this region — an area known as the Fertile Crescent (which also includes Iraq). Khoubiz dough is used in Syria for sfiha.

The Lebanese cook often uses a pie-crust or short-crust pastry base for a more tender and crisp crust, and a lot less fuss.


Quantity Ingredient
1/2 quantity Khoubiz (1), optional

Pie-crust pastry (optional)

Quantity Ingredient
600g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
250ml Samneh
or 250ml other shortening

Lamb filling

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon oil
500g minced lamb
1 large onion, finely chopped
50g pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
salt, to season
125g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 teaspoons pomegranate molasses or lemon juice

To finish

Quantity Ingredient
oil, for brushing
pomegranate seeds, to serve
lemon wedges, to serve
yoghurt, to serve


  1. If using the khoubiz dough option, make the dough using the full amount of yeast, even though making the half quantity of dough. Cover and leave to rise.
  2. Alternatively, make the pie-crust pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, add the cool melted samneh and rub it thoroughly and lightly into the flour with your fingertips. Have 185 ml warm water ready. Sprinkle in most of the water and mix to a pliable dough, adding more water if necessary. Knead lightly until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the lamb and stir over medium–high heat until the colour changes and the meat is crumbly. Add the onion and gently fry until the onion is translucent and soft. Add the pine nuts and spices and season with salt. Fry for 1 minute longer, then stir in the tomatoes. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the tomato softens.
  4. Stir in the pomegranate molasses or lemon juice. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. The mixture should be moist, but not liquid.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C.
  6. Punch down the pie-crust dough, if using.
  7. Roll out the dough or pastry on a lightly floured work surface until 5 mm thick, then cut into 10 cm rounds. Alternatively, take balls of dough the size of eggs and press each into a round by hand.
  8. Cut out or shape the trimmings too. Place the rounds on a cloth, covering them with another cloth.
  9. Take a round of dough and flute the edge with your fingertips. Spread a tablespoon of filling onto the dough and place the pies close together on oiled baking trays. Brush the meat and crust lightly with oil.
  10. Bake the pies for 12–15 minutes. Serve hot or warm, sprinkling with a few fresh pomegranate seeds if available. Lemon wedges for squeezing onto the pies, or yoghurt for drizzling over them, may also be served.
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Middle Eastern
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