Sambousek (Arabic Samosas)

Sami Tamimi

2½ hours

Makes 12 samosas

Sambousek. Photo by Jenny Zarins.
Sambousek. Photo by Jenny Zarins.

“Indian samosas, Hispanic empanadas, Cornish pasties, Bosnian burek: there are so many ways to encase various fillings with pastry before the whole thing gets baked or fried. Sambousek is the Palestinian way. Traditionally they’re fried but we’ve baked ours here.”

Getting ahead: These can be made in full in advance and kept in the freezer. You’ll need to defrost them overnight (just transfer them to the fridge the night before baking) and bake them as normal.

“Reprinted with permission from Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.”

Ingredients

  • For the Dough:
  • 1½ tsp fast-acting dried yeast 
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¾ cup/170ml lukewarm water 
  • 2½ cups/320g all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tbsp milk powder (also known as dried skimmed milk)
  • ⅛ tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil 
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 x 14-oz/400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1¾ cups/240g)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (1 cup/150g) 
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 sirloin steak (9 oz/250g), trimmed of most of the fat and finely chopped (6⅓ oz/180g)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp baharat
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Aleppo chile flakes (or regular chile flakes)
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ cup/10g parsley, finely chopped
  • For the mint yogurt dip (optional):
  • ¾ cup/180g Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup/5g mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • For the baking:
  • 1 egg, whisked together with 1 tbsp water, to make an egg wash
  • 1 tbsp black or white sesame seeds (or a mix)

Preparation

  1. Make the dough: put the yeast, sugar, and water into a small bowl. Mix to combine, then set aside for 5–10 minutes, or until it starts to bubble.
  2. Put the flour, milk powder, turmeric, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix for 1 minute, just to incorporate, then add the yeast mixture, followed by the sunflower oil and 3 tbsp of olive oil. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 6 minutes, until the dough is soft, sticky, and elastic. Tip the dough onto a clean work surface and bring together to form a ball. Grease the mixing bowl with the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Turn it a couple of times so that it’s completely coated in oil, then cover the bowl. Set aside somewhere warm for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  3. Make the filling: roughly crush the chickpeas with the back of a fork, leaving about half of them whole. Put the oil into a medium saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 8 minutes, stirring a few times, or until softened and browned. Add the meat, spices, and salt and cook for 90 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the chickpeas and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the parsley, and set aside to cool.
  4. Make the mint yogurt dip: place all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix to combine, and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces, about 1½ oz/45g each. Roll each piece into a ball, cover with a clean dish towel, and set aside for 20 minutes, to rest.
  7. Taking one ball at a time, roll it into a circle, about 5 inches/12cm wide. Spoon 2 tbsp of the filling—about 1½ oz/40g—into the middle of the dough and fold the dough over itself to form a half-moon shape. Press down the edges with your fingers and seal with a fork. Arrange spaced well apart on the prepared baking sheets and continue with the remaining batch.
  8. Brush the top of the sambousek with the egg wash and sprinkle evenly with the sesame seeds. Bake for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Rotate the position of the baking sheets halfway through for even browning. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then serve with the mint yogurt alongside.

Related recipes