Echpochmak: Fast food from Tatar nomads (RECIPE)

Juicy inside, crunchy outside! Tatar meat pies are an alternative to American fast food.

Juicy inside, crunchy outside! Tatar meat pies are an alternative to American fast food.

Yulia Mulino
Leading a nomadic life, the Tatar people used to travel long distances across the steppe. Echpochmaks, or little triangle pies, became a nourishing and quick food solution, making their camping stops shorter.

Echpochmak (or ocpocmaq) is a Tatar and Bashkir pastry made of yeast dough, stuffed with meat, potatoes and onions. It’s famous for the triangular shape, and the name literally means "three corners". Historically, it was cooked and eaten in the open air during long military campaigns. 

Echpochmak has a particular way of cooking. First, the hole on top is not for decoration, but has a function. After the pie is baked, a meat stock can be poured into it to make echpochmak juicier. Second, the trim braided ribs are to prevent the filling from falling out of the pie. Usually, this dish is cooked with lamb meat, but you can use beef as well. It is worth mentioning that fat meat and a large amount of onion will make the filling juicier. 

Every Tatar meal has echpochmak, which is usually served with a broth or tea. You can find it in every food market or cafe, not only in Tatarstan but in Tatar restaurants all over Russia. 

Ingredients:

For 14 pies 

Dough:

  • Milk - 150 ml
  • Flour - 400 g
  • Eggs - 1 pc
  • Sour cream (30% fat content) - 85 g
  • Butter - 60 g
  • Sugar - 1 tbsp
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Yeast (fresh) - 18 g 

Filling:

  • Lamb meat (with fat parts) - 400 g
  • Potatoes - 100 g
  • Onions - 200 g
  • Black pepper
  • Cumin
  • Salt - 1 tbsp
  • Butter - 150 g 

Cooking: 

1. Put sugar and yeast into a mixture of milk and eggs. Stir it till the yeast dissolves.

2. Sift 1/3 of flour. Stir the mixture with a whisk.

3. Add melted, but not hot, butter, as well as sour cream, and then stir the liquid dough thoroughly.

4. Sift the rest of the flour mixed with salt, and knead in a mixer for about 15-20 minutes.

5. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for about one hour until it rises and doubles in size.

6. Meanwhile, cut meat, onions and potatoes in cubes of 4-5 mm. Keep everything apart. 

7. After the dough doubles in size, put it down and leave for another 20 minutes.

8. Squash onions to make them softer. Add salt, spices and combine all filling ingredients. 

9. Let the filling rest while the dough rises again as in step 7. 

10. Put down the dough again. Divide it in pieces of about 50 g each. Make small balls and keep those under a towel while you work with the rest.

11. Flatten a ball, put a table spoon of the filling in the middle. 

12. Fold the edges together, forming a triangle with a hole in the middle. 

13. Make sure you place the edges properly.

14. Put the pies in a tray (not too close to each other), cover them with a towel and let them rest and rise a bit.

15. Bake your echpochmacs for about 45 minutes at 180°C.

16. When they are ready, pour melted butter into the holes, spreading on top of each pie with a brush.

17. Serve with broth or tea. Enjoy!

READ MORE: Belyashi: Master this legendary Soviet fast food

 

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