Wednesday, 15 October 2014


Middle East has been very happening of late. And not just on the war on terror- front. Jews just commemorated one of the biggest events of the calendar: the day of atonement, Yom Kippur. The Muslims on the other hand celebrated Eid Al-Adha, the sacrificial feast that ends hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. So, while one lot was fasting, the other was busy slaughtering animals to eat. Oh, the world we live in. 

My household didn't fast this year. Though there weren't any dead camels or goats either. Instead I made sambouseks, little pasties that are a staple at any Middle Eastern table (yes, both etymologically and gastronomically related to Indian samosas!) They are also one of my all time favourite street food treats. Everywhere I've been I've looked up the guy and gone silly stuffing my face with them.

Both the texture of the shell and the filling varies from one country (and cook) to another. Some take the time to use yeast as the leavening agent, some are greedy and in a hurry to start eating. You just guess which category I fall into...

In Middle East these pasties are either meat or local white cheese, known as "Bulgarian cheese". The meat is usually lamb, but beef will do just fine (neither one of the lots is too keen on pork in that region...). Ours was organic Hereford we got from Pine nuts give the filling a nice texture, but can be omitted too. Or substituted with pomegranate seeds!

You can make the pasties as big or small as you want - My mold measured 13 cm in diameter.


7,5 dl all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 eggs
3,75 dl water
a little less than 1 dl oil

Mix everything else but water. Then add water and work into a smooth dough that doesn't stick to the bowl. Cover with cling film and let erst while you prepare the filling. 


500 gr ground lamb or beef
1 large onion
1 generous tbsp bokharat-spice mix
3/4 dl pine nuts (or seeds of 1/2 pomegranate)
2 handfuls of chopped parsley leaves

For frying: 1 l oil (canola, rape seed etc)

Peel and finely chop the onion. Sauté in a couple of tbsp of oil until translucent. Add spices and once they start releasing the aromas, add the meat. Brown it thoroughly, add pine nuts, check the taste and season. Fold in chopped parsley and let cool.

Divide the dough in 4 and roll each one of them into a thin sheet on a floured surface. Using a mold or a small bowl/ glass cut into discs, fill, fold into a crescent and pinch the edges shut. If you're worried they might not stay shut, pinch the edges with the tines of a fork. Or you can fold them into triangles like I did with these dim sums

Heat oil in a heavy-based pot to 180 and fry the sambouseks a couple at a time (for 101 of deep-frying please see here!) until golden. Drain on kitchen towels.

You could also bake these oven, but that takes longer and results in harder crust. Brush the pasties with oil and bake at 180 for about 40 minutes. 

Serve with tzatziki and Israeli salad or tabbouleh.

PS. A quality meat is quality meat, ground or not. So, do follow these tips:

- Take the meat out of the fridge into room temperature for at least an hour before the cooking
- make sure the pan is hot enough to guarantee proper browning
- fry the meat in batches if needed and don't overcrowd the pan. This brings the temperature down which means it just boils in its own juices resulting in gray, tasteless crap
- organic mince is top quality produce, so eggs and bread crumbs can be skipped when making for instance burgers. Season thoroughly with salt and pepper, let it absorb the flavours in the fridge for half an hour or so and hey ho, you're good to go!

*In cooperation with Suomen kotitila - the meat was provided by the supplier*





  1. Hi! I really like the recipe! Just one question do You think i could make them ahead but fried them some time letter? Thank You!

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