Lebanese cheese fatayers are savory pastries found throughout the Middle East. Fatayers can also be filled with meat (lamb fatayer is traditional.) Fatayers are a Lebanese food found throughout the Arab world in pastry shops and market stalls. They can be triangular in shape or cigar-shaped (like the recipe below.) These are similar to the Turkish pogacas or the Latin American empanada, or the Eastern European Burek (more on that later.) Living in the northern U.S. I have found fatayer at the West Side market in Cleveland, OH. This place is a must for lovers of ethnic food like my husband and I.
Cheese Fatayers in Turkey
You can find a multitude of ethnic vendors selling delicious breads, pastries, meats and other delicious items. The first time I tried cheese fatayer was about 3 years ago. Teslime (she went by Tess), a Turkish visiting professor made them. I was hosting an international dinner party. She told me she used store bought pizza dough. Why? "It does the job and cuts down on the time." My kind of girl!!!
A Middle Eastern friend said it was okay to use feta. I have tried to recreate Tess' recipe from memory. I think it is a close approximation. Perhaps some day I will be brave enough to make the dough myself. In the meantime, enjoy this delicious Lebanese recipe!
FAQ's for Making Cheese Fatayer
- Can you substitute parsley for another green like spinach?
Yes, just about any green leafy vegetable will work.
- How long do these last in the fridge?
- No more than 3 days. You can microwave them or throw them in the oven
- Can I freeze cheese fatayer?
- I would not recommend it. Freezing cheese ruins the texture.
- Can I buy za'tar at the store if I don't have the ingredients at home?
- Of course, most Asian markets carry it or you can purchase it
- What do nigella seeds taste like?
- They are slightly smokey and nutty flavor. Don't limit yourself to just this recipe. Nigella seeds are delicious sprinkled on a salad.
- What cheese is the best for fatayer?
- My recipe calls for a mix of mozzarella and feta, but feel free to use ricotta or whatever suits your personal taste.
Step by step photos
- Gather your ingredients and have them measured, chopped and ready to go. I like to use glass prep bowls to organize all the items I use in a recipe.
- If you are making your own dough start by mixing the flour and salt in a large bowl. If you are using store bought frozen pizza dough you will want to get it thawed out before beginning.
- In a small bowl or pyrex add the yeast and sugar to warm water (100-110°F) then stir it lightly and allow to froth up. This will take 5-10 minutes.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the flour and mix well.
- Keep working the dough until it forms a ball.
- Place the dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1-2 hours.
- The dough should be about double in size when it is ready.
- Turn dough onto a floured surface. Punch down and knead for about 5 minutes. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.
- Mix together the yogurt, feta, mozzarella, parsley and nutmeg for the filling.
- Roll out each piece of dough into a long oval and add 2 tablespoons of filling down the center.
- Pinch each end and fold up the sides like the shape of a canoe. Add any remaining filling to each.
- Brush the sides with the egg wash.
- Sprinkle the nigella seed over the sides and top of each fatayer.
- Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
If you like the exotic flavors of Middle Eastern food I want to share with you some of my favorites you can bookmark for later or pin them on Pinterest.
Middle Eastern lentil soup is a simple soup that has lots of rich flavors and is so easy to make.
Zatar or za’atar is a spice blend you can easily make at home for dipping oils, sprinkle on hummus or toasted pita bread.
Lamb stew infused with rose water, dried apricots, cherries and almonds has a really nice combination of sweet and savory flavors in a rich broth.
A salad to try would be a traditional Middle Eastern style tabouleh or tabbouleh that consists of lots of parsley along with bulgur wheat, mint, tomato and onions. You will love the bright flavors in this dish!
Your meal Middle Eastern dinner would not be complete without a dessert of these pistachio rose water shortbread cookies. These are so easy to make and have such a nice floral note.
Lebanese Cheese Fatayer Recipe Card
Lebanese cheese fatayers are savory pastries found throughout the Middle East. Fatayers can also be filled with meat (lamb is traditional.) Fatayers are found throughout the Arab world in pastry shops and market stalls. They can be triangular in shape or cigar-shaped (like the recipe below.) Lebanese cheese fatayers are similar to the Turkish pogacas or the Latin American empanada, or the Eastern European Burek.
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp yeast rapid rise
- ¾ cup water warm (100-110°F)
- 1 tsp sugar
Prepare the dough
In a large bowl place flour and salt and mix well.
In a small bowl or pyrex place the warm water (the water should be between 100-110'F)). Add the yeast and sugar, stir lightly and let it sit until frothy ( this will take about 5-10 minutes).
Add the yeast mixture to the flour and blend well until a soft dough forms.
Rub a deep bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside the oven. Cover and let it sit until double in size (between 1-2 hours).
Turn dough onto a floured surface. Punch down and knead for about 5 minutes.
Roll dough into the shape of a ball, and cut into 4 equal parts.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare the filling and fill
- In a bowl combine the feta, yogurt, mozzarella, parsley and nutmeg. Crush with a spoon to break down the chunks of feta. You almost want the mixture to look like a very thick lumpy paste.
- On a floured surface knead the dough until it is elastic. Roll into a log and cut into ten pieces. Roll each ball and set aside covered.
Roll out each ball into an oval shape and place about 2 tablespoons of filling down the center of the dough. You can evenly distribute all the filling once they are shaped.
Fold over the top left of the dough over the filling and press down. Fold over the opposite side over the folded sided and pinch. Repeat the process at the bottom of the pastry. The formed fatayer will look like a canoe. Add the remaining filling to each if you have some left.
Brush with egg wash and place on parchment paper on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with nigella seeds. Repeat process until all fatayers have been made.
Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Optional: 16oz frozen pizza dough thawed: This works great if you are in a hurry and don't have time to make the dough from scratch.
Originally published September 2013 and updated March 2022.