Have you ever heard of ouzi? These are Syrian filo pastries that are traditionally filled with rice, vegetables and meat. But the filled dumplings are also popular in other parts of the Levant – for example in Lebanon.
Hearty filo pastries
So let’s start again: Ouzi are delicious dumplings made from wafer-thin filo pastry with a super spicy filling. The filo pastry makes the dumplings wonderfully crispy. If you can’t find filo pastry in the supermarket, you can also use strudel dough or yufka as an alternative.
Everyone has their own recipe: my ouzi recipe differs slightly from the Syrian classic because I don’t fill the dumplings with rice, peas and pieces of meat, but with my aromatic spiced rice hashweh.
This rice filling consists of rice, minced meat, dried fruit, nuts and many traditional Levantine spices. What are they? I’ve mixed my favorites into the rice: cumin, coriander seeds, cloves, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper and, of course, a little salt. This mixture harmonizes perfectly with the sweet fruit and the rest of the filling.
Although you can serve hashweh as spiced rice, it is also perfect for stuffing. Translated from Arabic, “hashweh” means “filling” – ideal for the crispy ouzi. I recommend a large dollop of yogurt and a fresh salad, such as tabouleh or fattoush, to accompany the savory filo pastries.
If you don’t like mince and butter, you can of course use vegan products or leave out the (veggie) mince altogether. The rice filling still tastes fantastic.
Ouzi is very easy to prepare
Now you already know the individual components: Filling and filo pastry. Once you have cooked the filling, all you have to do is make pockets. This is really very easy.
Brush the pastry sheets with a little melted butter. This will give you nice crispy layers. To fill, simply place the pastry in a small bowl and add the filling.
Then fold the ends over the filling and turn the dumplings out onto a baking tray. The ouzi dumplings are then placed in the oven and baked until golden brown and crispy.
Simple festive feast
Ouzi are often served on special occasions such as birthdays or weddings. If there are a lot of guests, the filo pastries are made a little smaller. This allows them to be served as a side dish rather than as a main course.
You are of course completely free to choose the size of your dumplings. If you are expecting a few more friends, I recommend making smaller ones and serving them as finger food. It is best to serve ouzi warm and straight from the oven, as this is when they are at their crispiest.
Are you curious about my Ouzi recipe? Then try it out soon and let me know in the comments if you liked it.
I hope you enjoy cooking and, of course, bon appétit.
- Halabi, Rafik (Author)
Recipe for Ouzi – Syrian filo bags
- Hashweh according to recipe
- 8 Filo pastry sheets (30 x 30 cm)
- 50 g Butter
- 1 teaspoon black cumin
- Prepare the hashweh according to the recipe and leave to cool slightly.
- Preheat the oven to 200° C top and bottom heat.
- Line the baking tray with baking paper.
- Cut the filo pastry into rectangular pieces.
- Melt the butter in a small pan and leave to cool slightly.
- Brush the filo sheet with butter and place in a small bowl. Place another filo sheet on top and fill with hash browns. Fold the ends over and place on the baking tray. Repeat this process until the dough and filling are used up.
- Brush the ouzi on the baking tray with butter, sprinkle with black cumin and bake in the oven for approx. 20 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve the ouzi with a dollop of yogurt or dip and fresh herbs.
- You can either make 4 large ouzi or several small ones if you want to serve them as a snack. To do this, cut the filo pastry to size and portion out the rice filling.
Are you a fan of dumplings? That’s totally understandable and I have a few more tips for you: Fatayer – savory filled spinach pockets, Sfiha – Lebanese minced meat pockets (also work with veggie mince) or Shabiyat – crispy baklava pockets with cream filling (special dessert recommendation).