Fatayer & Jibnah

Another Middle Eastern recipe that’s a favorite of my nephews & sister. We were all exposed to the middle eastern food about 20 years ago when my dad had moved there for work – ever since whenever my parents visit India, 80% of their luggage is compiled of food and ingredients of different shapes and sizes. Since the travel time for them is not too much – we are always asking them to get things starting from falafel sandwiches from particular restaurants to tahini of a particular brand. Fatayer (spinach pie) & Jibnah (cheese pie) are a permanent feature of that list.

I made these pies in the shape of a roll/spiral because I don’t know how to make the traditional shape but they taste the same!

For the spinach stuffing, you can use any kind of green from the spinach family – they will taste more or less the same after being cooked with the onions and the spices and for the cheese stuffing, you can make it with any of your favorite cheese…just mix it with mozzarella because that’s what gives it that salty flavor & stretchy texture. I used a combination of ricotta & mozzarella. I also mixed in some chopped green chili in the cheese mixture because I just LOVE the jalapeno & cheese combination.

I sprinkled some sesame seed on top of these pies just before baking, sprinkling some sea salt is also a very good idea.

Serving 7 rolls

cooking time 40 minutes plus baking time

Things you will need:

Basic Dough

2 cups A.P flour

2 tsp dry active yeast

1 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1/4 cup warm water plus more for kneading

Activate yeast in a mixture of warm water and sugar. In a large bowl mix flour and salt. Add yeast and mix slightly. Knead the dough with your hands adding 1 tbs warm water at a time, till it comes together as a ball. You want the dough to be slightly sticky. Transfer into a lightly oiled bowl (big enough for the dough to rise and double in size), cover with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm spot for 2 to 3 hours. After 2 hours transfer the dough on a generously floured surface. Deflate the dough by kneading it lightly a few times. Divide the dough into 7 equal parts, shape them into a ball and place them on a baking sheet leaving 4 inch gap in between. Cover with the kitchen towel and let it rest again for another hour.

Fatayer

2 cups boiled & drained spinach

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tbs sweet paprika

salt

ground black pepper

handful of pine nuts (optional)

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil till the onions turn translucent. Sprinkle some salt and mix. Add paprika and ground black pepper and cook for another 30 to 40 seconds. Add spinach and cook (stirring frequently) for about 5 minutes or till everything is mixed well. Turn the heat off and add the pine nuts. Let the mixture cool completely before stuffing the pie.

Jibnah

1 cup mozzarella, diced into small pieces

1/2 cup ricotta

1 green chili or jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped

In a bowl mix everything together.

To put the pies together

Preheat the oven at 350F. Roll out a single dough ball into 1/8 inch thick round. Arrange a heap-full tablespoon of the filling  horizontally(one of the two) and slightly towards one edge of the round. Roll the round starting from the edge closer to the filling into a cigar like shape. Pinch the open sides with you fingertips. Staring from one side, roll the cigar to form a spiral. Repeat the same process with other 6 pies. Place on a baking sheet (4 inches apart), brush the top of the pies with an eggwash and sprinkle some sesame seed. Bake for about 30 minutes or till the pies turn golden.