Speha are traditional savoury pastries that are excellent for mezza. While they are best served hot, they are surprisingly delicious when served at room temperature.
The juice of half a lemon may be used instead of pomegranate molasses. However do not add the juice at the same time as the spices and salt – add it along with the meat and tomato instead.
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1/3 cup (50g) pine nuts
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
250g coarsely minced lean lamb
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 quantity Sambousik pastry
Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a baking tray.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and cook the pine nuts for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Remove the pine nuts with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel, reserving the oil.
Place the onion in a bowl and rub in the spices, salt and pomegranate molasses. Add the meat and tomato, then the pine nuts and the reserved oil.
Roll out the pastry until 3-5 mm thick and cut it into twenty 9 cm rounds. Turn the rounds over (this helps the pastry corners stick together) and place 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of each. Pinch the rounds together at the four ‘corners’, bringing up the sides to make walls around the filling but leaving the top open (see opposite). If the corners of the pastry will not stick, dip your fingers in water, then dab onto the pastry to dampen the edges.
Arrange the pies on the baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.
This recipe and others are included in Abla’s® book The Lebanese Kitchen, available from all good book stores, or by contacting Patricia at Present Company Included on +61 3 9387 4717.