Sha Phaley

Not too long ago, I caught up with a very good friend of mine from university. There is a unique aspect to all our catchups - we always meet up at a new food joint and try out a cuisine neither of us has tried out before. This time on our list was Tibetan cuisine. Next time? Ethiopian :)


I will admit, I had no idea what to expect when we went to the place, what sort of food they'd eat, and the culinary style. I expected it to be closer to Nepalese cuisine. Somehow I wasn't too far out with my guess. It was a pretty interesting cuisine, and you can see hints of similarities with Kashmiri or Nepalese food - the usage of every possible cut of meat and spices to keep warm in the harsh winter months.


This post is about a dish they call Sha Phale, which is very much minced meat, cabbage and aromatics. To my Kiwi readers out there, this is very much a Tibetan take on our meat pies.

A lot like dumplings, Sha Phale can be steamed, fried or potstickers. We tried out the potstickers.


The recipe I will post now is courtesy of the chef, who was kind enough to share his secret with me.


Before I walk you through the ingredients and steps, here are some relevant metrics for the recipe.


  • Difficulty - Moderate.

  • Prep time - 45 minutes. This does not include the 2 hours the dough needs to rest .

  • Cooking time - around 90 minutes.

  • Servings - around 6.

Ingredients

For the dough

  1. All-purpose flour - 8 cups.

  2. Cold or tap water - 3 cups

For the filling

  1. Ground lamb mince - around 1 Kg

  2. Cabbage - 2 cups chopped

  3. Minced ginger - 1/3 cup

  4. Minced garlic - 1/4 cup

  5. Green onion - 2 stalks chopped

  6. Red onion - 1 and 1/4 cup.

  7. Soy sauce - 2 tbsp.

  8. Salt - 1 tsp or adjust to taste

  9. Stock - 1 tbsp

  10. Cooking oil - 2 tbsp

The Process

  1. Mix the flour and water, forming a ball. Knead at least 5 minutes until dough is smooth and flexible

  2. Place the dough in a dish and seal the dish with plastic wrap. Allow around 2 hours for the dough to soften up. Ultimately, you want the dough to be soft enough to roll out and stick together when you pinch together the edges of each Sha Phale. At the same time, it needs to be hard enough to form a smooth ball and not stick to the rolling surface. Don’t worry too much if your dough is too hard or too soft. If too soft, you can add more flour and/or put more flour on your rolling surface. If it’s too hard, you can add more water and knead again. You don’t have to let it sit another two hours in that case.

  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin. The thickness of the dough needs to be around a third of a centimetre approximately.

  4. Cut the dough into circles, roughly 8 centimetres in diameter. As you cut out the circles, set them aside.

  5. To prevent any wastage, roll the leftover dough into another ball and start again until we have made as many circles as possible.

  6. Add the ground meat, ginger, garlic, cabbage, green onion, red onion, soy sauce, salt and the stock into a mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients well.

  7. Place a heaped tablespoon of filling on one circle of dough. Place a second circle of dough on top of the first one.

  8. To seal the Sha Phale, pinch the edges flat together very firmly, going all around the circle. Then, start anywhere on the circle, fold over a small piece of the edge, and pinch it down, repeating this all around the circle. This results in a crimped, pretty edge.

  9. Keep the Sha Phale you have finished on a lightly oiled flat dish or surface to avoid the dough sticking onto the surface. Optionally cover the Sha Phale with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out.

  10. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan on high heat until the oil reaches its smoke point. Lower the heat to medium and place the Sha Phale onto the pan. You don’t want to burn the outsides before the inside is cooked.

  11. Cook until golden brown on both sides, turning frequently. Cook about 6-7 minutes for each side. This should be enough time for the meat to cook through. Use a paper towel to soak off any excess oil.

That's it; your Sha Phale are ready—Bon appetite. As always, I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments down below. See you in the next one.

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