Belyashi

Belyashi are these super delicious fried pies that are eaten fresh on their own or served with a broth or any other soup (I had them with pumpkin soup the other night – not traditional but so good!). These can also be served with a yoghurt or sour cream herb dip with dill. They are though best eaten hot off the pan! But you can re warm them in the oven if saving for later or the next day – i still recommend if possible, to eat them straight away. The classical and most common filling is made with adding a mixture of raw meat, onion and lots of seasoning! When you open up a hot steaming belyash with this filling, there’s an amazing aroma and the classic hot juice that is formed from the heat of cooking them. They are amazing!

They are originally from the Tatar communities that spread them through Russia and other ex soviet countries. These pies were and are also known as Peremech by the Tatar cooks and community and i’m not sure how the name changed and evolved to Belyashi and why exactly they weren’t really continued to be named as Peremech, but I have been sent a family book of Tatar recipes where they had two recipes – one known as Peremech (similar if not identical to these pies with slightly varied ingredients for the dough) and secondly they had a recipe for a dish called ‘bilish’ – and the image next to that was of a proper large rectangular meat baked pie.

Belyashi are a very popular street food that are sold in stalls/kiosks around market places and other eateries in Belarus and in Russia, also at metro stations. They can be made either with yeast or with kefir. I prefer kefir for Belyashi and only using commercial yeast for other sorts of recipes and dishes. I found that even though they don’t become as fluffy with kefir – they do expand, rise up, and have this juicy soft moist inside dough that’s just so good! I also found that using room temperature kefir works better with the flour and seems to activate it more.

My grandmother, who lives in Baranovichi, Belarus…has this vibrant and rich fresh food market that I love to visit. There you can find local and seasonal fresh produce, along with a kvass kiosk, meat section, freshly forage foods section and salted preserved fish stands. There is, in addition a kiosk with a woman who just makes these all day! I love walking past and watching how she rolls these out and makes these all by hand.

The other interesting things to mention about these is the size of them. Often they are quite large, but i do like a slightly medium/smaller size so I don’t just fill up on one! Also its a bit easier for me to cook medium sized ones and fit more in the pan. They definitely need to be large enough to hold a good tablespoon of filling though so try avoiding making them too small. Try making them a bit bigger one time if you like!

Explanation of terms:

Belyash – 1 pie – singular word

Belyashi – more than 1 pie – plural word

Recipe for Belyashi 

Choose any of the bellow fillings or do a couple if you like for variety

Ingredients

Dough

500g + approx 100g plain flour for kneading + a bit extra for rolling out etc

500ml x Kefir (room temperature)

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp olive oil or other oil

½ tsp bi carb soda

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Extra oil for frying (use any light flavoured oil) – I use olive oil, probably wouldn’t use a strong extra virgin olive oil but even that would be fine

Filling option 1

500g mince beef

1 x onion (diced)

1 x bunch fresh Coriander

Splash of water (to create a juice inside when cooking)

Salt and pepper

Filling 2

1 bunch milk thistle (finely sliced) (or other leafy greens)

½ bunch silverbeet (finely sliced)

3 cups of spinach (finely sliced or just use baby spinach)

1/2 cup feta (crumbled)

Salt and pepper

Filling 3

½ cabbage (finely shredded or sliced)

2 carrots (ends cut off and grated)

1 white onion (diced)

tbsp of sauerkraut (if you have – optional)

½ cup of feta (crumbled)

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Sift 500g of the flour directly into a large mixing bowl.  Add in the kefir, the salt, the oil and then combine the bi carb soda plus vinegar together in a spoon over the bowl, then add this into the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Mix the dough together roughly with a spatula or spoon then turn this mixture out on to a well floured surface. Alternatively, you can use a electrical stand mixer with a dough hook to knead the dough. Flour your hands well then knead the dough for approximately 5-7 minutes. Add the extra 100g of flour bit by bit during this process. Once the dough has formed a roughly smooth texture (don’t worry if it’s still a bit rough on the surface) place it back into the large bowl and cover with a tray or kitchen towel. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile prepare your filling. For filling 1 mix all the ingredients together in a bowl thoroughly and keeping it raw just set it aside. For both filling 2 and 3 sauté all the ingredients together in oil and season with salt then remove from the heat, transfer to the bowl and mix through the crumbled feta. Sauté filling 2 for only 10 minutes and sauté filling 3 for 20 minutes. Transfer the filling to a separate bowl and set aside until use.
  4. When the dough has rested, remove it from the bowl, knead it for another 3 minutes then slice the dough in half and begin to work with the first one. Place the other half in the bowl covered with a tray/kitchen towel until use.
  5. Roll out the first half on a very well floured surface. Roll it out using a rolling pin (also coat the rolling pin in additional flour so that it doesn’t stick to the dough) in as evenly possible round circle and do flip it over half way when half rolled out, adding more flour to the surface as needed so that it doesn’t stick.
  6. Once the dough is approx. 2-3 mm thick (you can roll it out to your preference but this is a good thickness to work with – also take note it will rise a bit during the time you make it and also when it cooks!), use the edges of either a sharp round cup, container or round pastry cutter form to cut into the dough and create each individual round shaped base for the belayshi. The diameter does vary slightly depending what you use but as long as its not too wide and also not to small then it will work well.
  7. Once you’ve cut out as many as circled shapes as possible just remove the excess pastry, knead it into a small ball and place it into the bowl with the rest of the dough.
  8. Fill each cut out shape with approximately a tbsp of the filling. Then make each belyash by folding from one side rotating and making little folds around and into the centre of the pie until you reach the last fold. When you reach the last fold, squeeze the edges all together, press it down lightly, then create a little hole in the centre (there should be a little hole already but you may need to shape it a bit better).
  9. Repeat this process with the second part of the dough, and then knead all the excess dough together to make the rest. Once you get to the final pieces of dough just slice them into some small pieces and roll out individually with a rolling pin.
  10. Once you have quite a few of the belyashi ready, I recommend starting to cook a few batch by batch on the pan. Or wait until you have them all shaped and prepped.
  11. To cook the belyashi, heat a pan to a high heat then add the oil, be very generous with the oil. Reduce the heat to a medium high (too high of a heat will burn the surface so start cooking them with a medium to high heat – you can always adjust this throughout the cooking) and add however many belyashi that you can fit on to the pan. For my pan I cook approx. 6 belyashi at a time. Cook the belyashi on the base first then when golden brown flip the belyashi on to the other side and cook for another 3 minutes or so approximately. You may need to see how long exactly for each side depending on your pan and the heat that works for your pan.
  12. Transfer the cooked belyashi onto a plate or tray lined with kitchen paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  13. Eat straight away as is or serve with warmed up broth, soup, or a yoghurt and dill dip with crushed garlic and salt.

Enjoy!

Categories
Dinner Mains