My favourite, favourite kinds of food are the kinds that I imagine old ladies worldwide preparing with love, care, and cursewords.
One of my favourite meals that I’ve ever had was on the southern coast of the Black Sea, travelling back to Istanbul via bus. We stopped—a whole score of students—and hopped off the bus, ready to eat. We had something like 45 minutes to make it back before we were left behind. My professor, Turkish herself, talked up a storm and whipped some old ladies into work.
There was a line of houses, all with seating and serving areas for tourists to stop and eat. Older ladies from six of them came together where we had seated ourselves, and they started making flatbreads and soups. They carefully rolled out dough before throwing it down on rounded iron skillets over ceramic ovens. We waited impatiently, watching them cook and offering to help clean dishes and set places.
In the end, we made it back to the buses with not a minute to spare, our stomachs full of bread and soup, served with impossibly small spoons (they ran out of regular sized ones).
It was wonderful.
So now, whenever I do ridiculous things like decide to chop pesto by hand, I think of all those places in the world where they have the luxury of time.
Some might view them as places too poor for electricity, for two-income families, for meals eaten at drive-throughs on the way back from soccer practice. But I’d rather be where the old ladies are, mumbling angrily about how someone’s speaking too loudly will anger an aioli, where modern methods of cooking are eschewed because they don’t taste the same, where produce is bought by the basketful and slowly chopped all afternoon over gossip.
Like all these things, fatayer take a little love. You’re going to have to make and shape dough. The insides are easy. They’ll bake and look lovely when they’re done.
So prep your filling, pour a glass of wine or crack open a beer, have some conversation, and fill these fatayer.
Finally, If you’re looking for a dough recipe, then I offer up mine for vegan pizza dough.
Fatayer bi Sabanekh (Spinach Triangle Pies) Recipe
By February 26, 2013Published:
- Yield: 24 Pies (8-12 Servings)
- Prep: 30 mins
- Cook: 25 mins
- Ready In: 1 hr 55 mins
Small, soft, spinach-filled triangle pies—what more could you want?
- 1 recipe vegan pizza dough Follow link above for my recipe
- 30 g frozen spinach I know, I know—frozen. You could use fresh as well, but we never seem to find it.
- 1 onion Diced
- 1/4 c good olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 T pomegranate molasses
- 1 T sumac Plus more for sprinkling
- 1/2 t nutmeg Freshly grated
- salt and pepper
- Start with the dough. (Spoiler alert! It's pizza dough.) If you haven't made it yet, the follow the directions in the recipe and cover it and let rise for an hour.
- Meanwhile, cook the spinach according to the package directions. (You can either get away with a microwave, or boil.)
- While the spinach cooks, sauté the onion in a pan with a splash of olive oil.
- Turn the onion into a bowl, then add spinach, good olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, sumac, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF).
- When the dough has risen, cut in half.
- Roll one half out into a large rectangle, three times longer than it is wide. Cut in half widthwise, then in thirds lengthwise to form six equal squares. Cut each square into two triangles to form twelve triangles.
- Place 1-2 T of filling in the centre of the first triangle. Bring the three corners up to form a pyramid. (I bring the two corners on either end of the longest side up first, pinch the edge to seal, and then bring the last corner up before pinching all of the seams.)
- Repeat for remaining triangles. Depending on the capacity of your oven, either repeat for remaining dough or prep the other half while the first half is baking.
- Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sumac and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden.