Fatayer, a meat pie in Middle Eastern cuisine

Fatayer meat pie


   The Middle East includes the region formerly known as the Fertile Crescent (the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers), where wheat was first cultivated,  followed by barley, pistachios, figs, pomegranates, dates and other regional staples.

   Fermentation was also discovered here to leaven bread and make beer.

   As a crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa, this area has long been a hub of food and recipe exchange. During the Persian Empire (ca. 550–330 BCE), the foundation was laid for modern Middle-Eastern food when rice, poultry and various fruits  were incorporated into the local diets. Figs, dates  nuts and Fatayer Meat Pie were brought by Arabian warriors to conquered lands, and spices were brought back from the Orient.

   The area was also influenced by dumplings from Mongol invaders; turmeric, cumin, garlic and other spices from India; cloves, peppercorns and allspice from the Spice Islands; okra from Africa; and tomatoes from the New World, via the Moors of Spain.

   Religion has also had an impact on the cuisine; neither Jews nor Muslims eat pork, making lamb the primary meat. Since the Qur’an forbids alcohol consumption, the region isn’t noted much for its wine—except in religiously mixed Lebanon, where vineyards like Chateau Ksara, Chateau Kefraya and Chateau Masaya have gained international fame for their wines. Chateau Ksara is also very popular for its arak, the Lebanese version of raki and ouzo. Al-Maza is Lebanon’s primary brewery, which was also, at one time, the Middle East’s only beer-producing factory. Lebanon has always been well known in the region for its wines Fatayer, and arak, making it an exception when it comes to lack of alcohol in the region.

Under the Ottoman Empire, sweet pastries of paper thin phyllo dough and dense coffee were brought to the area.  Thus we have the fabulous Fatayer Meat Pie a middle eastern dish.

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