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Feb 25, 2013

Assyrian Spinach Pies | Syrian Sabanrhiyat

Assyrian Spinach Pies, or Syrian Sabanrhiyat, are little packets of yeasted dough filled with spinach, onions, dried cherries, feta, lemon zest and juice, pepper, toasted walnuts, and olive oil.

Assyrian Spinach Pies - little packets of dough filled with spinach, onions, cherries, and feta

These Assyrian Spinach pies are about the size of a bagel, and are filled with a delicious filling.

A key ingredient to these Syrian Sabanrhiyat is mahlab, a powder made from the seed of the St. Lucy's cherry. I found it in my local Middle Eastern market.

The first time I made these, I couldn't find mahlab, so I used ground cardamom as a substitute. Honestly, I'm not sure I could tell the difference, so if you can't find mahlab, go with cardamom.

Syrian Sabanrhiyat

This recipe is originally from A Baker's Odyssey: Celebrating Time Honored Recipes from America's Rich Immigrant Heritage

This dough was so easy to work with, and it was deliciously flavorful stuffed with the spinach, cherry, feta, onion, walnut, and lemon olive oil mixture.

Yeasted bread spinach pies

July, 2018: This is an update of a post from 2013. If you read the comments, you can see that there is some disagreement as to whether or not the recipe is Syrian or Lebanese. I have been told that they are called Fatayar in Lebanon, and are quite popular there. Maybe several countries have a version of these little pies, each with a different name. Unfortunately, I'm not an expert. However, I am an expert as to whether or not these are delicious. They are.

This time I forgot to brush them with with the oil before baking, so they are not as shiny as they should be, but it didn't affect the flavor at all.

Make-ahead tip:

You can freeze these pies after baking. After they have cooled, wrap each pie individually in freezer wrap and then place them in a freezer bag. Thaw individually in the wrapping, and then bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups introduced these to the Bread Baking Babes for their 5th anniversary.

I've added new photos and a recipe card. I hope you give these a try. Here's a photo from the original post.

Lebanese spinach pies

bread, spinach, assyrian bread, Sabanrhiyat
bread, breakfast
Middle Eastern
Yield: 12 servings

Assyrian Spinach Pies


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground  mahlab
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground flax seeds (optional)
  • 10.7 ounces unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 small sweet onion chopped 
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 ounces chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped 
  • 4 ounces feta
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • One egg, beaten with a bit of water
  • Spray oil, melted butter, or olive oil


Make the Dough
  1. Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  2. Add the water and olive oil and mix with a dough whisk or large wooden spoon until just combined. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes. 
  3. Knead with the dough hook for about 8 minutes. Adjust the dough/water ratio to create a slightly tacky dough. 
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover, and let rise until doubled, about an hour. 
  5. When the dough has doubled, divide it into 12 even pieces and cover with oiled plastic wrap for 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax. 
Make the Filling
  1. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 8 minutes. 
  2. Add the spinach and sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the spinach is just wilted. 
  3. Scrape the onion and spinach mixture into a large bowl and stir in the rest of the filling ingredients. Set aside until ready to assemble. 
To Make the PIes
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and prepare two half sheet pans with parchment paper. Divide the filling into 12 equal parts. 
  2. Working with one dough piece at a time, role the dough into 6 inch circles.  Place 1/12th of the filling in the center and brush the edges of the circle with the egg wash. Gather the dough up in thirds, as pictured. Press the edges together. You can wet or oil your hands while working if they stick to the dough. 
  3. Once you have a sheet pan filled with six pies, spray them with spray oil, or brush with butter or olive oil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. 
  4. While the first sheet is baking, prepare the second sheet and bake after the first sheet is done. 
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Assyrian Spinach Pies, or Syrian Sabanrhiyat, are little packets of yeasted dough filled with spinach, onions, dried cherries, feta, lemon zest and juice, pepper, toasted walnuts, and olive oil. #bread

Would you like to comment?

  1. Thank you so much Karen, I've been looking for mahleb everywhere but couldn't find it (yet). Great idea to use cardamom.

    They look wonderful! Can't wait to taste them.

    1. I've heard they have it at Penzey's. I liked the cardamom but I have no idea what I'm missing!

  2. That sounds great! I like Middle Eastern Food, and will copy your recipe for speedy execution.

  3. You have done it again! Amazing!!! Looks so perfect almost too good to eat.. almost! ;)

  4. Karen you got really gorgeous color! We enjoyed these so very much, glad you did too.
    Delighted to have you bake with us.

    1. Thanks for having me! I was thrilled with the color. I did them one sheet at a time, which I think helps.

  5. They look great, Karen. They'd make great appetizers for a dinner party.

  6. Wow you have such great shaping on these, I get your feeling for hats :-)

  7. They look beautiful, Karen - like burnished gold! Mmmm, dried cherries instead of pomegranate....

    1. I got that idea from Heather's post and went with it. I liked the result!

  8. The hand pies look amazing, I'd love to try these.

  9. Karen, in California there are lots of Middle Eastern Stores where you can find ground Maleb, which is the nut of the sour cherry seed... I prefer it whole and ground it myself and use it in all my savoury and sweet bread.
    p.s.: Just as a correction these pastries are not Syrian Pastries they are Lebanese, the addition of Feta Cheese give them a Greek twist. We use ground Sumac and Pomegranate Molasses to boost the sour taste.

  10. So much flavor packed into a little package! These look amazing :)

  11. These look absolutely incredible! What a yummy combination of flavors!

  12. Perfect for a party! Pinning for the holidays.

    1. Excellent. They're so easy to make ahead and freeze!

  13. These look great and I love the sound of the flavors (plus another use of the mahleb I have!)

  14. These look and sound wonderful - and I love that you can make them ahead. I can't wait to try them!

    1. Thanks! They are just as good thawed and reheated!

  15. These sound delicious! I am adding to my list of recipes to try!


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