How to make brazilian esfihas

Esfirra or esfiha is a small baked appetizer made with dough and meat originally from the Middle East where it is called Sfiha; it is now also found in Brazil and Argentina, where this recipe has been brought by Arab immigrants (mostly Syrian or Lebanese) and since have become very popular. There are several recipes for esfirra. The traditional way is always made with dough, baked in the oven with toppings that can be beef, mutton, cheese, yogurt, or seasoned vegetables.

Recipe for brazilian esfihas


* 3 cups [750 g] of wheat flour
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 1 teaspoon yeast
* 1/2 cup of sesame
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup of skim milk
* 1/2 cup of oil (preferably sunflower oil)

* 1 lb. ground meat
* 1 large onion
* Salt to taste
* Juice from 1 large lemon


1) Break the eggs in the mixing bowl, mix with the milk, the yeast or baking powder, oil, salt and sugar. Let the yeast rehydrate for 10 minutes Then add 2 cups of wheat flour and sesame; knead the dough until the ingredients are all well mixed together. Set the dough aside and let it rise until its size has doubled. (Keep in mind this dough can be prepared the night before and stored uncooked in the fridge; to this effect, follow the procedures for preparing the dough, but then as soon as you’re finished kneading, put it in a large bowl which you will close with plastic wrap, then put in the refrigerator. Lasts up to 4 days in the refrigerator)

2) Now making the filling, mix the ground beef with lemon, salt and the onion chopped into small cubes. Let soak 30 minutes in seasoning and then place the meat mixture in a colander or sieve to sure it will be dry and not too wet the dough too much.

3) Putting it together: shape the dough into medium sized balls Then flatten the ball as if to make a mini-pizza (still with some thickness) Place a generous tablespoon of the filling and then join the ends of the circle in the center, shaping them like triangles; or, you can choose the format you want…

4) Use the remaining cup flour to manipulate and open the dough Note: The secret of soft esfira is not abusing the amount of flour, otherwise it gets dry. Arrange the Esfiras on a baking sheet dusted with flour and bake at 375 ˚F [180 degrees C].

Serve warm or chilled...

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