Savoury Hand Pies


In Ghana, as with many other countries, savoury hand pies are generally called meat pies.
Our ‘meat pie’, similar to the Jamaican beef patty is a popular snack found everywhere in Ghana – from fancy restaurants, on the side of dusty country roads to busy bus stations and chaotic markets; often times showcased in distinct glass boxes.

The ones you get from the street vendors are undoubtedly the most delicious; the crust crumbly, and the spicy savoury filling can be anything… from corned beef to stewed tomatoes and onions, it’s incredibly wonderful with Fan ice cream or a bottle of cold soft drink.
In the years that I’ve been away, none of the Ghanaian-style ‘meat pies’ I’ve had have come close to what I remember.

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IMG_5013 Making Hand Pies
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I’ve come to settle for this other type of savoury hand pie; quickly made with yeasted (pizza/bread) dough and a fast tasty tomatoey sauce for the filling. They bare a slight similarity to calzones and any combination or variety of fillings work – but I always come back to this quick simple sauce.

I make them quite often because they’re so versatile; these hand pies can be eaten hot or at room temperature, they travel well, and freeze well.
The dough and filling can be made ahead of time which cuts the prep work down dramatically, I’ve tried a variety and combination of fillings – leftovers… sauteed vegetables, Ghanaian-style spinach stew and homemade pizza sauce have all become delicious fillers for these little pies.

The dough is from an old and trusted recipe; also freezes well… just remember to bring it to room temperature before use.
I used all-purpose flour for the pies in this picture, but I personally prefer whole-wheat flour because it adds depth and a nutty flavour to the pies.

To make this particular pie wholly plant-based (vegetarian/vegan) omit the sardines and add crushed chickpeas, lentils or some legume of your choice.

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Grab one of these pies and a cold drink… find the quietest spot in your home and sit, contemplate and let your mind wander and take you places. Enjoy!


Savoury Hand Pies


  • 11/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tin oil packed sardines, drained of oil (or similar type fish (4oz) or omit or add 4oz crushed chickpeas or black beans for vegan version)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional or more!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Pizza/bread dough (use this recipe or store-bought)
  • Olive oil for brushing

For Filling

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan or skillet
  2. Add cumin, onions garlic and bell peppers, and saute for a 2 – 3 minutes stirring occasionally
  3. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for an additional 2 – 3 minutes or until vegetables soften
  4. Stir in sardines, breaking them up with your spatula, add mustard, curry powder, red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper
  5. Check your seasoning, add salt and check seasoning again
  6. Turn down heat and cook uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally – some 3 – 5 minutes or until the liquid evaporates
  7. Set aside to use with dough when ready

To Make Pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking tray with parchment paper
  2. On a clean flour-dusted surface, roll out dough very thin (you want it thin because the yeasted dough will rise while baking)
  3. Cut out 4 or 6-inch circles (use a round shaped cookie cutter, bowl, food mold etc.)
  4. Spoon 1 – 2 tablespoons of filling on to the centre of circles, leaving enough room around the edges
  5. Fold one side of the dough over to make a half-moon, moisten edges with water and press to seal, use a fork dipped in flour to make ridges along the edge
  6. Brush the top with olive oil, and transfer on to the baking tray
  7. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until pies are golden brown
  8. Enjoy while still warm or at room temperature


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  • Reply Bintu @ recipesfromapantry

    Althought we also call these meat pies in Sierra Leone the street name for them is ‘bottom belleh’. I make these a lots and like you I prefer to bake them.

    8 March, 2013 at 12:14 am
    • Reply Elsa

      Hmmm… I wonder why it’s called bottom belleh. Is it because of its shape?

      8 March, 2013 at 6:47 pm

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