50th post and Arabic open-faced pies

So with this post, I have two awesome news to share.

Firstly, I got accepted in Le Cordon Bleu! Yeah baby, I am going to be trained at the premier patisserie institute at the culinary capital of the world. A month-long course in Paris. Yep, it’s happening. The land of boulangeries , fromageries  and patisseries. One and a half month to go. Wohoo!

Secondly, this is my 50th post. When I wrote the first post in February, I had just a vague idea of where I would like it to be six months later. I had no clue it would develop into this insanely interesting thing, that 90% of my brain space would be occupied by recipes and things to cook and write about. And I love it. I have also started harboring dreams of selling home-made goodies under my brand-name. Still thinking of a name, so a long way to go in that area, but who knows! It might be next year or a year after that. But soon. 🙂

For this 50th post, I had big plans of making a beautiful large ruffled chocolate cake. For some reason (may be excitement?) I forgot to layer my baking pan with parchment paper and the cake refused to come out in one piece. It was soft and deliciously rich, but came out in two parts. Never mind, lesson learnt : Always prepare your tray with a drizzle of oil and then layer it with parchment paper, before baking the cake.

For lunch we made these crisp open-faced pies with arabic dressing of red sumac. The traditional version is to top it with chickpeas, but since Akshay is an ardent meat lover, I made four toppings : Masala Chickpeas, Cajun Spiced Chicken, Zatar Mushrooms, and Oregano tomatoes.

Savory pies are a traditional recipe of Syrian Christians and called Ajeenat al-Fatayar, while the chickpea open faced pies are called Safeehat Hummus. These are specially served in the seven week long feast of Lent, right before Easter. The recipe is adapted from Habeeb Salloum’s book. I got it from the booksellers in Fort area of Mumbai, 300 authentic recipes with stories, at less than Rs. 250! It’s a keeper.

I baked them on the topmost rack in the oven to get crisp-on-the-edge and soft-in-the-center pies. You can also lightly top it with shredded cheese before baking.

open faced pies

Basic Dough for Savory pies recipe:

Makes about 18 pies

What you will need :

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 package / 7 gms dry yeast
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

How to make :

  1. Dissolve sugar in water and then sprinkle in yeast and stir. Allow it to sit in a warm place until yeast begins to foam.
  2. Meanwhile, combine flour, butter, salt and ginger in a large mixing bowl. Make well in flour and add the milk and yeast mixture.
  3. Mix well, adding more warm milk or water as necessary. Do not allow the dough to become sticky.
  4. Shape into a ball. Brush the ball with some olive oil and place in a floured pan.
  5. Cover with a damp cloth and keep it in a warm place to rise till double in bulk.
  6. Cut it into 18 pieces and flatten each one into 4-5 inch disks. Keep the rest covered.
  7. After brushing with the spice mixture and adding the desired toppings (listed below), bake them at 200°C for about 7-8 minutes, till they get brown and crisp on the edges, but still soft in the centre.

Arabic Spice mixture:

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

To make :

  1. Combine all the ingredients and let it rest for 5 minutes before using.
  2. Spread the dough rounds on a greased baking tray and brush the tops with this spice mixture.

For the Toppings :

Make these toppings and spread on the round disks of pie-dough after rubbing the spice mixture.

  1. Soak chickpeas overnight in water and baking soda. Drain. Cook them well in a pressure cooker, and rub with some salt and chilli powder.
  2. Wash and slice mushrooms, then cook in an open pan. Once the water from the mushrooms evaporates, season with salt and zatar powder.
  3. Shred chicken into 1 inch pieces and marinate with cajun spice, salt and chilli flakes. Then cook on a medium flame till 90%  done. (They will continue cooking once spread on the pies, so do not overcook).
  4. Combine chopped ripe tomatoes with oregano and salt and drain the water. Tomatoes are quite tender, and need not be cooked before spreading on the pie dough.

Garnish the pies with chopped basil leaves before serving. Enjoy your Syrian feast.

P.S : Looking forward to many posts and lovely adventures along the way. Cheers!

P.P.S : Also quite nervous about staying for a whole month away from home with a very rigorous class schedule.

10 thoughts

    1. Bake them after brushing the spice mixture and adding the toppings @ 200C till golden brown and crisp on the edges; about 7-8 minutes. And I updated it in the post too. 🙂 Let me know.


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