Sfiha is a delicious Middle Eastern mini meat "pizza" that will win a crowd. Perfectly spiced minced meat on top of flatbread like bread, it is a comfort food no one can resist. Whether you are serving a crowd or making dinner for your family, this is a delicious dish for slicing it up and serving with your favorite mezze.
With my husband being Middle Eastern, having a good sfiha recipe is a must in our household. And lucky for him, I absolutely love this dish too! It always reminds me of the first time I tried it in Lebanon and spending our time traveling through the Middle East.
Over the years, I have learned delicious food takes time, love, and effort to make. Traditional homemade lahmacun requires exactly that, and it is absolutely worth every minute of it. I love making the dish from scratch because it is a great recipe to make with friends and family. Plus, what could be a better way to bond over delicious food and amazing companies.
Now, if you don't have the time to make lahmacun from scratch, don't feel discouraged. You can still make this dish with my little cheat-cheat below. With my quick and simple recipe, you can save spending hours in the kitchen and still enjoy a delicious sfiha dish.
What is Sfiha?
Sfiha has many names. Some may know the dish as lahmacun, lahmajoun, Middle Eastern pizza, Arabic pizza, Armenia pizza, or Turkish meat pies. But, sfiha literally translates as "dough with meat." Think of it as a Mediterranean-style minced meat pizza.
There are many versions of this dish throughout the Middle East. Different countries offer a different touch to the dish, just like how we have different pizza varieties. It can be served on either super thin and crispy flatbread, pastry, or flatbread with spiced ground meat mixture. Some versions use beef, some use lamb, and some use a combination of both.
What You Will Need To Make This Dish
Traditionally, the dish is made with sfiha dough, which is very similar to pizza dough. To make the dough from scratch is the most time-consuming part of making this dish. It requires using active dry yeast to form a dough, allow the dough to rise, and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, which requires time and effort.
To make quick and easy sfiha, here are some of your options:
Pita bread is simple, and it is just as delicious. Plus, it is slightly lower in carbs because pita bread is much thinner than naan, pizza dough, or flatbread. If you use pita bread, make sure you use fresh pita bread from the store or make it yourself. Old pita bread will be harder to rip open because it may be too hard or stale and will leave you with ripped bread.
Once you peel the pita bread open completely, it becomes two thin pieces of flatbread. This flatbread will give you a nice and crispy meat pizza. And because they are super thin, you will need to watch them in the oven carefully and not burn it.
Naans or flatbreads
Store bought naans and flatbreads are another great quick and simple way to make this dish. This option gives you a fluffier texture, unlike pita bread, almost like a pizza-like consistency but slightly more dense.
Store bought pizza dough
Now, if you want to make it from scratch but don't have time to raise the dough yourself, you can pick up a store bought pizza dough. It will give you a very similar experience as to making it completely from scratch. This option will still take you some time to make the dish because you will need flour and floured surface to roll out the dough. But using store bought dough, you can save hours of mixing dough and raising the dough yourself.
Depending on the region, some sfiha is made with ground lamb or ground beef. Some countries even use a mixture. Which option to go with is a personal preference. I like to make my sfiha with lean ground beef only.
Onion pairs perfectly well with beef, and it is a must-use ingredient. You can use any type of onion, and any type will all work. And if you are an onion lover, add a touch of green onion for extra flavor and color.
Seven spices are a staple in Middle Eastern cooking. Seven spices contain a ground mixture of cinnamon, ginger, fenugreek, allspice, pepper, and cloves. If you don't have seven spices at home, you can make your own blend.
To add smoke and sweet to hot flavor, add a touch of paprika.
You can use minced fresh garlic or garlic powder. It adds more flavor to the filling mixture.
To add an earthy flavor and aroma, add a touch of ground cumin.
To finish off the seasoning of the meat mixture, you will need a touch of salt.
To balance the juicy beef and spices, a touch of citrus will enhance all the flavors.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Adding a touch of extra virgin olive oil to your meat mixture will prevent it from burning during baking.
These ingredients are optional, and you can add them based on your personal preference. If you are planning on adding some, add them into your beef mixture.
To add some nuttiness, you can add some pine nuts and mix them with your beef mixture.
To give the meat pie more moisture and taste, you can add some tomato paste.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Serving Size: 12 Pizzas
16 oz ground beef
6 Pita Bread
1 Shallot, Small, chopped
2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoon seven spices
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Green Onion
1 Fresh lemon for serving
- In two or three large baking pans, place a baking sheet or unbleached parchment paper in each. If you only have one large baking pan, you will need to bake in batches. Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Open the pita bread slowly and peel it around to open the pita bread completely. Once you are done, you will have two round-shaped thin bread. Lay it on top of the baking sheets.
- In a medium or large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients (except lemon), and mix. I like mixing with my hand (with gloves on, of course) or placing it in a food processor. Make sure it is well combined.
- Use a spoon and place a scoopful of the mixture and place it on the bread. Spread it around the bread like a pizza. Make sure you spread an evenly and thin layer of meat on top. Repeat until you are done with all 12 pieces of pizzas.
- Place it in the preheated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges are turning golden brown. Then remove from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes (not completely cooled).
Yield: 12 Pizzas Serving size: 1 Pizza
Amount per serving: Calories: 165 calories. Total Fat: 5.1g, Saturated Fat 1.3g. Cholesterol: 34mg. Sodium: 269mg. Total Carbohydrate: 17.4g. Dietary fiber: 0.9g. Total Sugar: 0.5g. Protein: 14.3g.
**The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.**
Recipe Tip #1: other recipe variations include adding tomato paste, pine nuts, sumac, bell pepper, and pomegranate molasses. To include these ingredients or not is a personal preference.
Cooking Tip #1: If you plan on adding pine nuts, you can swirl it in after all the ingredients are mixed.
Cooking Tip #2: You can cook sfiha on the stovetop in a skillet or a pan with a lid.
Cooking Tip #3: If your pita bread is slightly ripped, you can spread the raw meat mixture and then fold both ends in like a burrito. Then place it in the oven.
Cooking Tip #4: When you take it out of the oven, you will notice a layer of juice on top of your beef. This is normal, and do not remove it. As it cools down, the meat and bread will absorb the liquid.
Cooking Tip #5: Bake the dish on top or middle rack. It cooks the pizza faster and gives it a nice crisp. The bottom rack will take longer to bake and may dry out the beef.
Serving Tip: #1: You can slice each pizza to serve it as an individual pizza.
Serving Tip #2: Dress with freshly squeezed lemon (my favorite), pomegranate molasses, tahini dressing, or yogurt. Top it with fresh parsley or pine nuts.
How To Enjoy The Meat Pizza
To enjoy the dish, you can eat it like a pizza by slicing it up. Serve it with your favorite mezze, an easy salad, or just simple, fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.