Arnaki se fillo

Arnaki se fillo

Lamb in fillo

The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Alan Benson

This is one of the ways in which a basic Greek recipe can be revamped to produce a really superb dish. Basically it is ami palikari (lamb bandit-style).

Traditionally, the food was wrapped in paper before cooking so that the cooking aromas would not betray the presence of the bandits. Nowadays foil has replaced the paper.

This recipe goes one step further and makes the individual parcel totally edible by using fillo pastry. Many Greek restaurateurs make use of fillo in this way in similar recipes.


Quantity Ingredient
6 boneless lamb leg steaks, about 2 cm thick
freshly ground black pepper, to season
40g butter
or 2 tablespoons oil
2 onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
12 sheets fillo pastry
125g butter, melted
salt, to season
3 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon rigani or oregano
125g feta cheese, cut into 6 slices
flat-leaf parsley sprigs, to garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Trim the steaks of most of the fat and shape them neatly — the trimmings can be used in a minced lamb dish. Season with pepper.
  3. Heat the butter or oil in a large frying pan and brown the steaks quickly on each side — do not cook them through. Lift them out into a dish and leave until cool.
  4. Add the onion to the pan and gently fry until translucent. Add the garlic and remove from the heat.
  5. Brush a sheet of fillo pastry with the melted butter and place another sheet on top, brushing again with butter. Fold the sheet in half to make almost a square. Put it aside and cover with a dry tea towel, then one dampened with warm water. Repeat with remaining fillo to give six squares.
  6. Leaving the remaining pastry covered, take one square and brush the top with butter.
  7. Place a lamb steak in the centre and season lightly with salt. Top with the onion mixture and cover with two tomato slices. Sprinkle with a little rigani or oregano and some salt and pepper. Place a slice of feta on top.
  8. Bring up the ends of the pastry and double-fold them over the top. Fold in the ends as you would a package, then tuck the ends underneath; this is known as the ‘chemist’s fold’. Place the parcel on a greased baking tray. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  9. Brush the tops and sides of the parcels lightly with more melted butter and bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Serve immediately if possible, though they will survive in the oven with the heat turned off for about 10 minutes.
  11. Garnish with parsley and serve with green beans or zucchini dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.


  • Medallions of lamb cut from a trimmed loin can be used instead of the steaks. If cut from a small lamb, you will require 12, placing two in each package.
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Middle Eastern
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