Empanadas arabes may not be originally from Argentina but we have adopted these empanadas as one of ours and are so popular that they are now part of our traditional Argentine cuisine.
Empanadas arabes originate from the Middle East and were most likely brought to Argentina in the late 1800s and early 1900s through a large number of Lebanese immigration.
The shape of traditional empanadas is obviously very different to empanadas arabes however the main and most important difference is the way they are cooked. Empanadas arabes are made by marinating and cooking the raw mince in lemon juice for at least 5 hours but preferably overnight before cooking the empanadas in the oven.
Empanadas arabes are surprisingly easy to make since the mince mix is left to marinade overnight and the dough is just super easy!! This recipe is definitely perfect for summer picnics and family gatherings!
What do you need to make these amazing empanadas arabes?
- Beef mince: Empanadas arabes need mince and 500g is enough to make 24 empanadas at least!
- Onions: Lots and lots of empanadas is the key to amazing empanadas so do not shy away from them!
- Baharat spice mix: I like to use the Schwartz Baharat spice mix however if you cannot find it, the Schwartz Lebanese 7 spice is very similar and works beautifully. If you cannot find either, you can make your own by adding 1/2 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp paprika, good pinch of pepper and good pinch of chilli pepper.
- Lemon juice: You cannot make empanadas arabes without lemons. The lemon is used to marinade and cook the mince overnight and it gives this empanadas such a lovely citrusy flavour!
- Tomatoes: 2 tomatoes are grated and these add extra moisture and add amazing flavour.
- Fresh yeast: The dough for empanadas arabes uses fresh yeast so that the dough can rise slightly.
- Plain flour: We cannot use self raising flour as we are using fresh yeast as our raising agent.
- Table salt: Salt is used to season both the mince mix and the dough
- Caster sugar: Only a pinch of sugar is used but definitely needed to give flavour to the dough.
- Olive oil: This helps the dough become more elastic.
- Lukewarm milk and water: This is firstly used to dissolve the yeast but secondly it adds the liquid to make the dough.
As mentioned earlier, this recipe easily makes 24 medium sized empanadas!
For the mince mix:
- 500g beef mince
- 3 medium sized chopped onions
- 1 large grated tomato
- juice of 4 lemons
- 1 tbsp Baharat spice mix (see above for substitutes)
- table salt and pepper
For the dough:
- 500g plain flour
- 25g fresh yeast (12g dry active yeast or 7g fast acting yeast)
- 2 tsp table salt
- large pinch of sugar
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 125ml lukewarm milk
- 125 ml lukewarm water
For the mince mix:
- In a large bowl, add the beef mince, chopped onions, grated tomato, tbsp of Baharat spice mix, juice of 4 lemons, salt and pepper.
- Using your hands, mix all the ingredients well until completely mixed together.
- Cover with cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 5 hours but preferably overnight.
For the dough:
- In a small bowl, add the lukewarm water and milk and stir the fresh yeast until it fully dissolves.
- In a large bowl, add the sifted flour and make a well in the middle. On the outside of the well, add the salt and sugar.
- Add the dissolved yeast, water and milk and start to mix, ensuring that the yeast does not come into direct contact with salt to prevent the salt from killing the yeast.
- Once you have started to combined the liquid and dry ingredients, add the olive oil and continue to combine until the dough is almost formed.
- Tip the dough and remaining flour and continue to knead for at least 5 minutes until all the excess flour is absorbed by the dough. You should not need to add any extra dough as it should not be sticky.
- Using a weighing scale, cut the dough into small balls weighing approximately 30-33g. If you do not have a scale, cut the dough into similar sized balls. This should give you 24-28 smaller balls. Cover these with a tea towel so they do not dry.
- Roll each individual small dough into a circle.
To assemble the empanadas arabes:
- Start preheating the oven to 250 degree Celsius.
- In a slightly floured surface, roll each individual small dough into a thin disc.
- Spoon a generous amount of filling into each rolled dough disc. Dip your finger in water and cover the outside of the disc with water.
- Close the empanadas into a triangle by folding one side first and then the other two sides, leaving a small gap in the middle. Press gently into each corner to prevent any liquid from escaping when cooking.
- Place all empanadas in a baking tray covered with parchment paper.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degree Celsius and cook for 12-14 minutes.
- Remove from the oven when golden.
- To enjoy the empanadas even more, add some lemon juice in the centre before eating.
- ENJOY!! 🙂
I cannot wait to hear your thoughts on these AMAZING empanadas!!
Buen provecho 🙂