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Baked Shellfish and Coriander Pastry

These pastries (rghaif) can be baked in the oven or cooked on a griddle. Instead of shellfish, other traditional fillings...

These pastries (rghaif) can be baked in the oven or cooked on a griddle. Instead of shellfish, other traditional fillings include sautéed strips of chicken flavored with saffron, or roasted vegetables and cheese.

Mezze by Ghillie Basan, photography by Jan Baldwin, is published by Ryland Peters & Small.


For the dough:

  • Sunflower oil, for working the dough
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with a tablespoon water, for brushing
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cup plus three tablespoons warm water
  • 2 1/2 Cups plus one tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 Cups sunflower oil

For the filling:

  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil and a knob of butter
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red or green chile, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 Teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 Teaspoon paprika, plus a little extra for dusting
  • 6 Ounces small fresh prawns/shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 6 Ounces small squid, with ink sack, back bone and head removed, and thinly sliced
  • A bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • A small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Freshly squeezed juice of a lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the dough:

In a small bowl, cream the yeast with roughly 1/3 cup of the warm water and leave it in a warm place to froth.

Sift the flour with the salt into a wide bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the oil and the yeast into the well. Gradually add the rest of the water as you draw the flour in from the sides and knead the mixture with your hands to form a smooth, soft dough.

Divide the dough into 12 balls and place them on a lightly oiled work surface under a damp tea towel. Leave to proof for about 1 hour, until they have doubled in size.

For the filling:

Heat the olive oil with the butter in a heavy-based pan and stir in the onions, garlic and chile for 2–3 minutes, until they begin to color. Stir in the spices and toss in the prawns and squid. Add the herbs and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and leave the mixture to cool.

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F.

On an oiled work surface, spread and stretch each dough ball with your fingers to form a thin circle. Put a large spoonful of the mixture just off-center in each circle. Fold the narrower edge over the mixture, tuck in the ends, then fold the wider edge over to seal in the mixture and form a square package.

Place the pastries sealed-side down on an oiled baking sheet and brush each one with a little of the egg-yolk mixture. Bake the pastries in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until crisp and golden. Dust them with a little paprika and eat immediately.