Pair these delectable Piragi with a bowl of earthy mushroom soup and pickled vegetables for an extraordinary Latvian meal.

Piragi (Latvian)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Latvian
Serves: 36 piragi
Pirags Dough
  • 1 Cup whole milk, lukewarm
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces all-purpose flour, sifted
  • pinch ground cardamon
  • 2 1/2 ounces unsalted butter
  • pinch smoked salt, to taste
  • 5 ounces peeled onion, small dice
  • 1/2 ounce canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon star anise
  • 5 ounces cooked ham, brunoise
  • 5 ounces bacon, brunoise
  • pinch ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pirags Dough
  • 2 medium egg yolks
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons whole milk
Pirags Dough
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, mix the milk, yeast, and sugar, and let rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour and cardamom, and combine on low speed.
  3. Melt the butter in the microwave with the smoked salt, and stir with a fork (the salt probably won’t dissolve completely, and that’s OK). With the mixer running on low speed, add the butter to the dough.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in volume. Punch down, and let rise for another 30 to 45 minutes, until doubled again.
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion in the canola oil until golden brown. Stir in the star anise, cook for another minute, and remove from the heat.
  2. In a bowl, combine the onion, ham, and bacon. Season with black pepper; usually, the mixture won’t need salt.
  3. Measure half of the dough (about 9 ounces), and place on a floured surface. Knead in 1/2 ounce of the meat filling, then roll to a 9 x 13-inch rectangle. You will probably need to add some flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin, but try to add only the minimum necessary. Cut into 3-inch diameter discs.
  4. Place a spoonful of filling on each disc. For the perfectionist, each pirags should consist of 1/2 ounce of dough and 1/3 ounce of filling. For the rest of us, let’s just say that you can fill them more generously than you would fill ravioli, because you can press some of the filling into the dough when you seal them. In fact, don’t hesitate to do that — having the filling partly mixed with the dough is what makes piragi so great.
  5. Fold each disc into a half-moon, seal the edges, then flip to fold the edges under, and curve the tips to shape like a crescent. The perfectionist will verify that they’ve obtained a 3-inch long, 1-inch wide crescent.
  6. There are three stages of pirags shaping: the open disc with the filling, the half-moon with sealed edges, and the final crescent. Reserve the dough trimmings.
  7. Transfer the piragi to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. If you have the patience, let rest for about 10 minutes.
  8. Mix egg yolk and milk, and brush the piragi with this egg wash. Bake in a 375 F / 190 C oven for about 14 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack.
  9. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough. Then roll the dough trimmings from the first 2 batches, and make a third batch; the dough will be less airy, but still good.
  10. Eat the piragi while still warm.


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