For Iftar, try these Arabian spinach and cheese triangles known as Fatayer. I show you how to make a SOFT fatayer dough, roll them in three different ways and stuff them with just feta cheese, and spinach and feta cheese. These are great vegetarian appetisers but can also be made with minced meat. This is an easy recipe that is sure to become a family favourite Iftar recipe (or otherwise)! Kids love them!
Please see video at the end of post to watch how to make fatayer!
Growing up, Ramadan meant going grocery shopping a week before the commencement of Ramadan for uniquely Ramadan-esque ingredients for my family. This included pastries, dates, olives, Tang (who knows and remembers Tang?), oats, pulses, and lots of citrus. It also meant eagerly anticipating freshly made Umm Ali (Umm Ali recipe here), hot and crispy Jalebi, all you can eat Pizza Hut buffet, and also one of my favourites – Fatayer!
You can think of Fatayer as Arabian mini pies. There are six distinct Fatayer fillings – spinach (fatayer sabanekh) spinach and cheese (fatayer sabanekh jebneh), cheese (jebneh), minced meat (laham), and spinach with sumac (a tangy middle eastern spice). I like all of them, but spinach and cheese is my favourite.
Living in Saudi Arabia, it was a melting pot of Arabian cultures and food, and the Gulf and Levant added their own touch to each of the popular Arabian dishes. Fatayer is no different. My mother would also often make them and I loved hers just as much. They’re baked, healthy (not unless you’re on a low-carb diet) and vegetarian if you opt for the spinach/cheese Fatayers.
I loved walking down the aisles of freshly baked and fried food in the supermarkets and on the streets. Inhaling the fusion of cultures was enthralling. You could smell distinct Pakistani, Lebanese, Indonesian, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Afghani flavours all on one street!
In Sydney, Australia, there is a suburb called Lakemba, which has a large Muslim population. Every Ramadan, the streets are adorned with stalls serving Ramadan delicacies from around the world. I ventured to Lakemba with my friends last weekend and I ate till both my brain and stomach said ‘NO’ (my heart did not want to concur, however). I relieved my childhood favourites like Ta’miyah (the REAL DEAL Falafel, not the mushy, soggy substitutes you get in Kebab shops! Comment below if you’d like a recipe), Mahalabiyah, Mughlai Paratha (recipe coming soon), Boti Kebab, fresh carrot juice and much more! It was a street FEAST! I have not felt that content in a long long time. If you live in Sydney, you must check it out during Ramadan. It’s a truly unique and memorable experience!
Feeling all nostalgic from the food coma, I wanted to recreate the childhood Ramadan favourite, Fatayer. You can make them into different shapes, and I’ve included each one below. The triangles are my favourite (they can be completely closed or left with an opening). I was slightly intimidated because my dough rolling skills aren’t that great. I also wasn’t sure how big and thin I should roll each one. With some trial and error, I got it right! I’ve made mine vegetarian, but feel free to add minced meat as well, they’re delicious! Tips on the perfect Fatayer are added below.
Tips for the best Fatayer:
- Fermenting the yeast with sugar, water, milk, in the fridge for 10-15 minutes makes the dough rise much faster, and gives you a soft dough. My mother’s yield was around 32, I got more than 40 even though many of the first batch were too thin and big!
- If using spinach, drain the extra water after cooking to prevent your pies getting soggy.
- Don’t roll your pies too thin. 3-4cm in diameter is a good size.
- Instead of using an egg wash, brush with some milk to get soft Fatayer.
- You can refrigerate the dough and use within the next 2 days. Bring to room temperature before rolling.
Fatayer is an Arabian triangle usually filled with spinach, cheese or meat. The dough is soft and kids love these too!
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp yoghurt
- 1/2 cup oil
- 1/2 -3/4 cup water
- Milk for brushing
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cups baby spinach (or 2 cups frozen spinach)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp sumac (optional)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 100 grams feta cheese, crumbled
- 150 grams feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 200C.
Combine milk, sugar, yeast and 1/2 cup flour. Rest in fridge for 10 minutes to ferment.
Take yeast mixture out and add flour and salt. Combine. (Use food processor, mixer or knead by hand)
Add yoghurt and mix.
Add oil and 1/2 cup water. Knead dough. Add up to 3/4 cup water depending on consistency of dough.
Knead dough for 3-5 minutes.
Place dough in bowl, rub with oil, cover with cling wrap and leave to raise for 20 minutes.
Tear dough into 35-40 balls.
Roll each ball to approximately 3-4cm in diameter. They should not be thin.
Saute onions for 2 minutes.
Add spinach and cook until wilted.
Add salt, cumin and sumac (optional).
Take off from heat and add crumbled feta cheese.
Break an egg into crumbled cheese.
Beat until well combined.
Place 1 - 1 1/2 tsp of either filling in centre of rolled out dough.
Take two corners and join together.
Take the other corner and either seal completely or leave an opening in the middle.
For boats, slightly stretch rolled out dough to form an oval.
Place filling and roll up the longer sides. Take one end, roll and pinch. Do the same on the other side.
Brush the triangles/boats with milk.
Bake at 200C for 15 minutes until top and bottom are light brown.
Watch how to make Fatayer
You may also like Greek Spanakopita – Spinach and Cheese Pie!