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Lebanese Flatbreads with Spiced Beef, Tomatoes and Tahini
These delicious savory flatbreads are Middle Eastern in origin, but we learned about them in São Paulo, Brazil, where they’re called esfihas (sometimes spelled esfirras). The breads were introduced to Brazil by Arab immigrants, particularly from Lebanon and Syria, in the late 19th century. Esfihas might be formed into dumpling-like buns that fully enclose a filling, but the ones we favored were open-face like pizzas and about the size of a saucer, with a soft, tender, dinner-roll texture. Toppings varied from ground meat seasoned with spices to cheese to hearts of palm. At São Paulo’s Restaurante & Rotisserie Halim, Yasmin Sultan showed us how to make pizza-style esfihas. We adapted the recipe, adding some yogurt to the dough for a richer, more tender crumb that’s a perfect match for the garlicky, aromatic ground beef and tomato filling spiked with nutty tahini. Za’atar is an herb, seed and spice blend. It’s sold in most well-stocked supermarkets in the spice aisle, or look for it in spice shops or Middle Eastern grocery stores. If you have leftover esfihas, wrap them well and refrigerate for up to two days. Rewarm in a 425°F oven on a wire rack set in a baking sheet for five to eight minutes.
For the dough:
120grams (½ cup) plain whole-milk yogurt