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Araïche Salé | Starfish Triangle Shaped Spinach Pies

بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

Countdown to Ramadan is on! Are you ready? Have you already prepared and now sitting back, calm and collected awaiting the big day? Or are you in superhyper mode scrambling to get your act together?

I've been posting about Ramadan preparation for about a month now, but I myself have started my  personal preparations about 2 months ago. I have one more post in the series that I'll be posting in the next few days ... about cooking during Ramadan. 

While worship is the MOST important part of Ramadan ... somehow the iftar becomes the highlight of the evening. Some have simple fare while others go all out. What do you usually have to break your fast?

Over the years, our iftar has evolved from a full blown Algerian style iftar complete with chourba, bourek, a main dish, several salads, fruit and a whole array of desserts after the meal. More children, more responsiblities, more focus on worship and less time our meals have been condensed into soup, bourek, salad, some type of finger food and fruit. And the occasional (weekly Algerian dessert).

Today, I'm going to share with you one finger food we enjoy during Ramadan. It's not ALGERIAN! Lebanese ... I love Lebanese food. I ate enough of it during my uni days. :)

I've been meaning to post this recipe for about a year now. Actually, I have folders full of recipes I've wanted to post. But it's always about time huh? Fatayers were, in my uni days a quick snack I used to grab at any of the Arabic restos near campus between classes. Today, my children enjoy these little bites for lunch, picnics and Ramadan.

Inspiration for these bites come from the Lebanese savoury pastry Fatayer and the Algerian starfish shaped sweet called Araïche (L'3arayech, Arayache,عرايش). I love the savoury tartness of Fatayer but I love the unique Araïche shape. So viola something innovotative and new!

To note, Fatayer usually contains a spice called sumac. Sumac is a shrubs with tiny berries. These berries are grind up into a dark smokey looking powder.  Its taste is extremely tart, kind of lemony and  It gives Arabic and Turkish food like stuffed grape leaves (dolmas) and roast chicken its distinct lemony flavor. You can even use it as a garnish for dips like hommous and baba ghanouj. As well in marinades and salad dressings.

Sadly, in Algeria you can't find sumac so if you're in Algeria you'll just need to omit it from this recipe and use lemon juice to obtain a similar tangy taste. The dough which I used is this supereasy universal all purpose dough.. It can be used for all types of pies, pizzas, tourtes and breads.

active prep time: 10-15mins | inactive prep time: 0min | cook time: 15-20 mins 
 24 fatayers 

  • 5 cups - 625g unbleached flour 
  • 2 cups - 475mL warm water (+ or - depending on your flour)
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 2 tsp  instant dry yeast such as RedStar
  • ¼ - 45mL cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 kg fresh spinach (or 500 g frozen spinach with the water squeezed out)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp harissa (optional)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBS  sumac or 1 TBS  lemon juice 
  • sesame seeds
  • sumac
  • olive oil
Mix the yeast, honey, and water. Mix in 1 cup of the flour. Cover the bowl and let rise for 10 minutes in a warm place.
After the 10 minutes, mix the remaining ingredients with the sponge and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be ultra-smooth and malliable. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel, until ready to make the fatayers.
Heat the oil in pan. Add onion, cook, stirring until is soft. Than add in all the remaining ingredients to sauté for about 5 minutes. If you have too much liquid, you can cook the mixture longer until all the liquid has evaporated. Allow to cool, before assembling the fatayers.
Take the dough and roll it out thin. Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut out 
5-6 cm circles. You'll get about 24 (or more if you use smaller cutter) Fill with 1 heaping tablespoon of filling.
To make into triangles as above, take two opposites ends of circle and press together at a point. There will one end open. Bring that end to the point and press. Now pinch all the sides together. Take extra care to make sure the seams are closed (or they'll open)

 To get the Algerian arayeche (starfish) shape that is commonly used to shaped an Algerian cake by that name, simply twist the points. You can see how to do it here.  Brush the fatayers with olive oil and sprinkle sesame seeds and/or sumac on top. Bake the fatayers at 200°C - 375° F about 15-20  minutes or until a golden  colour.
Serve with a simple arabic salad or hearty soup.
You could optionally add feta cheese into the filling.

Replace part of the spinach with oregano, collard greens, nettle, danelion or kale.

Mediterranean, Lebanese, Middle Eastern, vegetarian, appetizers, Ramadan, picnic, quick and easy

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