Thursday, April 17, 2008



Besides the cake, I made savory snacks for the boys’ birthday get together at my house last month. Simple yet good food, easy and quick to put together, because they’d arrive at lunch time and I would not have much time to cook. So I went for mini carne louca sandwiches and sfihas.

As much as it sounds like a big cliché, Brazil is a melting pot and we have been influenced by many different cultures. Our food is a great example of that. Italian, Portuguese, Japanese – you’ll find all those flavors in our menu. Not to mention the dishes we inherited from the indians (Brazil’s first habitants) and from the slaves that came from Africa centuries ago.

There’s also a large Syrian-Lebanese community here (at least in Sao Paulo), so sfihas are extremely popular. These are so delicious, I’m sure you’ll love them – I did, even though I can’t stand beef. And my Italian/Portuguese/German family loved them, too.



½ kg (17 ½ oz) ground beef
2 ripe tomatoes, seeds removed, finely diced
½ onion, finely diced
½ cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons salt
juice of 1 lime
freshly ground black pepper*

30g fresh yeast
500ml warm milk – I used 1% fat
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 ½ cups (about 780g) all-purpose flour – I used only 730g

Start with the filling: place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/428ºF.

Now, the dough: place the yeast in a large bowl and add the milk. Mix well with a fork until the yeast is dissolved. Add the sugar, salt and oil. Start adding the flour, gradually, mixing with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes. Take small portions of dough – the size of a walnut – and make them into balls. Place onto a floured baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for another 5 minutes.
Using your fingers – I used a rolling pin, it was a lot easier – open each dough ball into a circle. Place ½ tablespoon of beef filling** into the center of the circle. Fold in the lower third of the circle towards the center of the sfiha, then the left and right thirds of the circle, forming a triangle. Pinch the ends together to seal the filling inside.
Place the sfihas, 1 inch apart, onto an oiled baking sheet.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden.

If you prefer your sfihas softer, place them inside a pot right after they’re out of the oven and put the lid on (I did not do that).
You can also use an egg wash on the sfihas before baking them, which I think is completely unnecessary.

* the original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon bahrat; I didn’t have any in my pantry, that’s why I used black pepper instead.

** the ground beef is used raw in the filling and releases water and blood after being mixed with the other ingredients. To prevent the dough from being watery, I placed the filling inside a colander over a bowl and squeezed the small portions of filling between my fingers to get rid of any excess liquid before putting them in each dough circle.

Makes 60



LyB said...

Those look fabulous! Almost like mini pizza pouches. That's the pizza lover talking! :) I love the way you presented them, beautiful!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wow those are beautiful!
Makes 60! Can two people eat 60 of anything?
May have to try some of that, not 60 though.

Manggy said...

Ah! Those look so moreish. I'm intrigued by Lyb's comment-- I would love some tomato sauce too :)

Silvia - Magnolia Wedding Planner said...

They look delicious. And for sure they are!!
What a wonderful recipe!

Deborah said...

These look so delicious! And what a wonderful place you live in!

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Patricia. These look wonderful :)

Maggie said...

I always enjoy reading about the food people around the world eat. They look wonderful.

Brilynn said...

I'd never heard of these before but they kind of sound like empanadas, so you know I like them!

Anonymous said...

empanada-y! so how can they be bad?

they're gorgeous, and that dough looks super tasty.

Anonymous said...

These are really cute Patricia. I remember these in Sao Paolo along with all the other salgadinhos I ate! I bet they were popular!

Emily said...

Well, I've never heard of these, but they look really, really good. There is so much to learn in the food world.
I would like to visit Brazil someday.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

These are new to me, but oh so wonderful! I love the way you photographed them, too.

Anonymous said...

Oooh...those look awesome. I think I'll use your dough recipe but instead of putting meat inside, I'll put something sweet, for dessert. :)

grace said...

sfihas--also known as pockets full of deliciousness. :)

Anonymous said...

I had to stop myself from licking the screen, they look so delish! Sfiha, Calzone, Empanadas, curry puffs, pockets, chausson...I have a bit of a savoury pocket fetish. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Anonymous said...

They look great, but I've discovered that I'm mildly allergic to parsley :( What would you suggest that I use as a replacement?

giz said...

I'm so glad you posted this - I've been looking for a similar recipe for a while and this is pretty darned close.

test it comm said...

Those savoury stuffed pastries look good!

Veron said...

these look fantastic patricia!

Arundathi said...

those look so delicious - i'm tempted to try a veggie version - maybe stuffed with potato? hmm...

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wow, I didn't realize that Brazilian food was so diverse. These look delicious - perfect party food!

Anonymous said...

Patricia, this is a great recipe! Reminds me of the Pirojki I posted, the dough is almost the same. The shape is different. I like the triangle shapes!

Anonymous said...

these look fabulous patricia - they remind me of some empanadas i made, and adored. thanks for the inspiration.

KJ said...

These sound delicious. Like little pies. Yum!!

Anonymous said...

Wow... these look so great! I do love savory meats wrapped in pastry-- whether it's Cornish Pasties, Empanadas or Briouats. Great post!

breadchick said...

OK, I'm drooling here Patrica! When I saw the picture on my blog reader I thought to myself "Samosas" but reading your entry made me thing little pockets of meat love. The perfecf finger food for a party I'm throwing in a few weeks.

Anonymous said...

I too thought they were samosas. They look beautiful, and sound delicious, sweetie! I think we're blessed to live in multicultural countries, don't you think? The exchange of cultural flavours is such an enriching experience.

Anonymous said...

Wow Patricia, they look so light and deliciously good! Perfect party food.

Peabody said...

Portable lunch! Looks good.

Allen said...

These look so good -- you know how much I love meat-filled pastries :-)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Shifas are new to me, but a mini savory pie is always a winner in my book! You shaped them so beautifully, Patricia--just perfect little pockets.

Patricia Scarpin said...

LyB, thank you,darling! And for your information, I'm a sucker for pizza, too.

Tanna, I had lots of people over, and it was not a problem. :)

Mark, great idea. :)

Silvia, thank you, dear!

Deb, Brazil is great, but I'm biased. :)

Maryann, thank you!

Margaret, I enjoy that too.

Bri, I think you would!

Michelle, that dough is easy to work with.

Peter, we have wonderful salgadinhos here, good to know you've tried them!

Emiline, it would be amazing to have you here.

Lydia, thank you!

Joy, that is a wonderful idea.

Grace, I love it how you describe them. :)

Hi sweetie! One just can't go wrong with stuffed dough, right? :)

Ellie, go for spring onions, darling!

Giz, I do hope you like it.

Kevin, thank you!

Veron, thank you, sweetie!

Arundathi, thank you for stopping by! People here use sautéed greens as a filling, too.

Lynn, there are lots of influences here, my friend, all of them delicious!

Farida, thank you very much!

Abby, thank you for stopping by.

KJ, thank you!

Ann, I'm glad! Tks!

Hi darling! You can make them the size you want.

Hi sweetie! I couldn't agree with you more, I love the diversity!

Dayna, this is a very light and good to work with dough.

Pea, yep! :)

Allen, you'd love these, I'm so sure!

Susan, I like their shape, and I'm glad you like them too.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Ah, I had some of these just the other day at a Lebanese restaurant. I find them completely irresistible! Yours look perfect - crispy and golden brown on the outside, with just the right amount of filling on the inside... Beautiful!

Steph said...

These look delicious! Stop by my blog for an award!

Antonio Tahhan said...

I thought these looked familiar! They're very popular in Syria and Lebanon as you mentioned. My favorite type is when they're filled with spinach, but I eat the meat ones all the same - they're delicious!

Susan said...

These remind me of the pastelles I get from Latin grocers.

Patricia, these look wonderful. Even though I don't eat beef anymore, I can appreciate a beautifully savory pocket of spiced filling. Thanks for the link; I am always on a spice caravan. ; )

Marianna said...

OK nevermind, I found the answer to my Q (the one I had posted on Flickr) here!! :-)

Marianna said...

Sorry for posting again, just FYI the "bharat" you don't have, well you can make it on your own if you want. I think each family has their own secret mix, but my mother (who has Syrian origins) makes her own bharat mix with: black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and cumin. Same proportions for each.

Anonymous said...

These are one of my favourite nibbles, the bharat really adds something special to them though :)

christine said...

Sfiha, it even sounds so exotic. These look wonderful, like empanadas which I love.

Helena said...

Hello Patricia, I´m Helena and I saw your picture at Flickr.
This Sfiha picture is wonderful! Would you like to publish your photo at food magazine? It´s perfect to do an advertisement.
Please I´m tryin to find your contact. If you can please call me at 55 11 2281 6499 . Are you brazilian? You can also send me an e-mail
Thank you

Related Posts with Thumbnails