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Murtabak

Lamb Pastries



Sometimes it's all about technique. The ingredients may be top notch, you may have all the time in the world, but if your technique is faulty, there goes the dish. I'm pretty good in the kitchen, but my technical skills are, all in all, quite minimal, specially with pastries. And needless to say, I failed terribly with this dish.

My main problem, my only problem, was the dough. It was extremely elastic and impossible to roll. You rolled it out, it contracted back in - time after time after time. I finally gave up and just filled it up - but, of course, with a smaller, thicker surface area, I had too much filling. Closing the damn things was very hard as well, the dough was not sticky at all, and the sides kept coming apart. I finally gave up, which was a good thing, as the dough actually closed upon itself when I was frying it - so much effort for naught. But the dough was just too thick, and I couldn't get the inside of it cooked. By the time the inside cook through - and that took a long time - the outside was hard as a rock. It was a complete failure. As I said, it's all about technique. Finally, I hated, just hated, the smell of the heated ghee. If you make these, you may want to fry them in oil or even non-clarified butter.

The result was more like a Cornish pastry than a pancake, though of course the dough lacked a flaky consistency. Still, it was the type of thing you could easily eat with your hands.

Fortunately the filling was quite good. Mike, in particular, liked the subtle anise taste. I objected to the occasional cardamon seed, but appreciated the lamb taste. In all it was a good filling, which I used the next day to fill a dozen empanadas, which we really enjoyed.


Murtabak

Ingredients

For the dough

For the filling

Instructions

For the dough

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper with the water. Kneed into a smooth dough. Cover and let rest overnight.

Divide the dough into 4 portions. Oil your working surface and roll out the dough into as thin a layer as you can. Spread liberally with ghee. Fold and shape into bolls. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for hour.

For the filling

Sautee the lamb with the onions and all the other spices save for the turmeric. Meanwhile, fry the turmeric in a little oil. Add the turmeric to the lamb and cook until ready. Season to taste.

For the pastries

Roll out each dough piece into a thin rectangle. Place filling in the center. Pat half an egg over the meat. Wrap dough over the meat to form a square.

Fry the pastries in hot ghee, butter or oil until brown on both sides.

Adapted from a recipe at AsiaRecipe.com


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