Sfiha/Pide: The Versatile Dough of the Mediterranean

I sat at the table picking bits of ground lamb and tomato off the “pizza” on my plate. It was a quiet evening two weeks into my 2002 trip to Lebanon. The heat was oppressive. I wasn’t hungry. I also wasn’t thinking.

My aunt’s eyes were discs when I looked up. She whispered my name in high-noted horror.

I quickly withdrew my hands, embarrassed to be caught playing with my food at age 22. I cleaned my fingers with a napkin and folded the sfiha in half, taking my aunt’s cue as she cast her eyes toward my grandmother.

“Sahtain! Sahtain!” Tayta said from her place at the head of the table. I was brought back to my childhood when I was guaranteed a plate of eggs scrambled with onion and potatoes anytime I spoke the words “ana jou’aneh.” The way she stopped everything to take her place at the stove to solve my hunger as I slid back a chair from the table and climbed up.


Three years after that visit to Lebanon, I sat in a Turkish restaurant over a Turkish “pizza.” This one had spicy sausage and cheese. I cut it with a fork and knife, folding small bites into my mouth. If I ruled out flavor and focused on texture, I could wade through my own time stream.

I asked the recipe for the dough from a friend. She obliged. And while nearly none of this story is true, this recipe is real. I hope you give this dough a try. Fill it with spinach and onion or bake it rolled out as a pizza crust. You won’t be disappointed.


Turkish Pide Pizza with soujouk (sausage), mushrooms and mozzarella.

Sfiha/Pide Dough
Serves 8

1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast

Put into bread maker on a regular cycle until dough ball is formed, then let rise for approximately 20 minutes. This dough is good for pizza, pide, spinach rolls, etc. Cooking time depends on preparation. For spinach rolls, bake at 375 for 25 minutes. For pizzas, back at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Topping recipes to follow.

What food evokes the strongest memories for you?

This is Day 6 of the 30 Day #LinkYourLife Challenge. Find the full list of prompts here and join in the fun.

Shawna Ayoub

Shawna Ayoub is an essayist, fiction writer, poet and instructor with an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. Some of her work has been published in The Manifest-Station, Role Reboot, [wherever], The Huffington Post, The Oxford Review and Exit 7. Her writing explores the intersections of race, place and survivorship. She writes with honesty about her own experience in order to transform pain.

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