When it comes to pies and wrapped foods, small is beautiful in the Arab world. For years, I made tiny meat cigars and triangles. They were delightful finger food but labor-intensive and not what I want to spend time on today. I devised this pastry envelope with the flavors of Aleppo as a fun snack or light main dish to serve with a salad or together with a mixed vegetable dish. You need a sturdy type of phyllo pastry that does not tear easily (look for phyllo labeled “country-style,” “thick,” or “horiatiko”).
If your phyllo is very thin, you will need two layers with oil brushed between them for each parcel.
- Take the phyllo out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to use it.
- Warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Fry the onion for about 10 minutes, until golden. Add the beef, salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger and cook, breaking up the meat, crushing and turning it over until browned, for 8 to 10 minutes, adding the pomegranate molasses when the meat has begun to brown. Stir in the pine nuts and parsley and let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Divide the meat filling into six portions. Open out the phyllo sheets and cut in half lengthwise. Keep them in a pile, covered with a tea towel so that they don’t dry out.
- Working with one sheet at a time, brush lightly with oil. Take a portion of filling and place it on the phyllo about 3 inches from a short edge, forming it into a square shape, about 4 inches square. Bring the short edge up over the filling to partially cover, then fold the long sides over. Carefully turn the parcel to completely enclose the filling, resulting in a square-shaped packet. Brush lightly with oil between any bits of phyllo. Repeat to make six pies.
- Brush the pies with the egg yolk glaze and sprinkle each with 1 tsp sesame seeds or nigella seeds. Bake for 25 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve hot.