Fatayer is a pizza-like dough stuffed with a herby cheese filling in this case. They are found throughout North Africa and the Balkans in differing variations and are traditionally served during breakfast or as a snack with a hot drink.
The combination of the salty cheese, fresh parsley, fresh mint, and nigella seeds makes these fatayer irresistible. I used feta cheese since it is more readily available but if you wish to make the fatayer more authentic, use akkawi cheese.
I have also tried a combination of ricotta and mozzarella cheese, using half of each, which was equally tasty but more subtle and creamy. Experiment with different cheeses and see what you like best. I prefer the tart tanginess of feta.
Tip: Shape the fatayer as soon as the dough finishes resting. To keep the fatayer from puffing up too much and losing their shape, it is important to bake them right away. I made the cheese fatayer into boat-like shapes, which is the way they are traditionally made, but you can use any shape you prefer, including making them into mini pizzas.
- 450g strong white bread flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 2 x 7g sachets fast action dried yeast
- 300ml warm water
- 2 Tablespoons good olive oil
- 200g crumbled/grated cheese of choice (I used 100g feta, 50g parmesan, 50g boursin)
- ½ bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- ½ bunch of mint, finely chopped
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced
- Freshly grated black pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 large egg
- For the dough: Place salt, caraway, nigella seeds and flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar and yeast but do not let the yeast directly contact the salt.
- Pour in the water and olive oil. Mix together with your fingers.
- Work the dough into a soft warm ball then slap it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and elastic.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl and lightly oil the dough itself so a crust does not form. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
- For the filling and constructing: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well until combined.
- Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces.
- Roll out into an oval shape.
- Put 1½ teaspoons of the filling in the middle and spread.
- Lift one edge and press the ends. Do the same with other edge making a boat-like shape.
- Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.
I was bought a traditional clay tagine pot for my birthday last year and have been meaning to use it for ages. I think I used it once as a decorative serving dish for some fruit but apart from that, it has been sat in the corner gathering dust. It wasn’t until a friend came round and pointed out how much she loved tagine that we decided to do a tagine night with a couple of mates. It was a roaring success and the stew was delicious! I will definitely be using it more often.
You don’t need a tagine pot to make a tagine. The funnel lid is a traditional shape that helps the air circulate in a particular way while cooking but you will get very similar results in a casserole dish too.
There is no right and wrong when it comes to tagine recipes either. Just put what you like into it. I’m sure I’ll have North African grandmothers rolling in their graves at that comment as I bet they have sworn by, top secret recipes for the perfect tagine but in my humble opinion, if you like something, stick it in. Feel free to experiment with spices, meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and herbs. The slow and low cook in the oven will transform whatever you decide on into a luscious, comforting meal.
- Olive oil and a knob of butter
- 1kg lamb leg, deboned and diced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, grated
- 2 tsp each of ground cumin, garam masala
- 1 tsp each of ground coriander, ground cinnamon, turmeric
- ½ tsp allspice,
- 2 tsp harissa paste
- 1 Tbsp tomato puree
- 400g tin plum tomatoes
- 500ml chicken stock
- 100g prunes
- 50g pistachios or almonds, shelled
- Fresh coriander, mint, parsley
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Cous cous, flatbreads and tzatziki to serve
- Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a large cast iron pan. When hot, add the lamb in batches and seal on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and gently sweat for 5 minutes without browning.
- Add the dry spices and harissa paste to the onions and allow the oil to warm the spices and release their flavours. Return the meat and resting juices to the pan and stir well. Add the tomato puree and cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil then add the hot stock. Keep stirring until returned to the boil then place in the pan or a tagine if you have one into the oven for 2 hours or until the lamb is really tender. 5 minutes before serving, stir in the prunes and nuts and chopped herbs and remove from the oven.
- Serve with any grain, bread and dip you like. I went for the classic herby lemon cous cous with my infamous garlic flatbreads and tzatziki dip.