Join The National and Table Tales on a culinary journey around the Middle East to savour the quintessential dishes that embody the spirit of Ramadan. From table staples to family favourites, this series of recipes – one for each day of Ramadan – pays homage to the holy month and the home cook alike.
A sambousa by any other name is a samosa (India), a fatayer (the Levant) or a gyoza (East Asia). This combination of filling-stuffed dough is universally loved, as much for its crisp pastry shell as its delectable – and totally personalised – meat and vegetable stuffing.
Recipe contributor Ashwaq Abdolmonem says: “Sambousa is an essential part of any iftar table in Saudi Arabia. There are many variations with different fillings, such as meat, cheese and vegetables. They are crispy, juicy, tasty and easy to make.
“The recipe shared here is quite popular in the Hijaz region. I give it my own twist with plenty of fresh herbs and creamy cheese. We call it sambousa Turki, as it is my husband’s favourite.”
Ashwaq Abdolmonem's sambousa puff
Makes 12 to 15
Ingredients for the dough:
- 300g all-purpose flour
- 1½ tbsp corn starch
- 1 tsp salt
- 60ml cooking oil
- 80ml water
Ingredients for the filling:
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 300g minced beef
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp Saudi bzar spice mix
- Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
- Handful of parsley, chopped
- Handful of fresh dill, chopped
- ¼ cup spreadable cheese, to taste
- Oil for frying
Method for the dough:
- Add the flour, corn starch and salt to a medium bowl. Drizzle with oil and water. Mix by hand until the dough starts to come together. Add more water as needed and continue to knead. The dough will feel slightly sticky but malleable.
- Form into a ball, cover and set aside to rest, while preparing the filling.
Method for the filling:
- In a medium skillet, add the oil and saute the onions for five minutes, until translucent, then add the garlic.
- Add the minced beef and stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper and spice mix, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the beef is cooked.
- Remove from the heat. Add the fresh herbs and spreadable cheese, and mix well. Set the meat mixture aside to cool, while preparing the dough.
- Cut the dough ball in half and dust with flour. Also dust the work surface lightly with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough until smooth and thin. Cut the dough into circles, with a cookie cutter to the preferred size, about 5cm-8cm.
- Scoop a teaspoon of the meat filling and place in the centre of the dough, keeping the edges clear. Fold the dough in half to make a crescent shape and crimp the edges to seal tight.
- Place on a lightly floured tray. Repeat for the remaining dough. Tip: the sambousa can be frozen at this stage to be consumed later.
- Heat oil in a medium pan for frying. Place the sambousa in the oil (not too hot) and fry for five to eight minutes, while turning around until golden.
- Remove the sambousa with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Continue to fry the remaining pieces. Serve immediately.
This dish has been brought to you by Ashwaq Abdolmonem, wife of the Saudi Arabia Ambassador to the UAE, and curated by international recipe hunter Hanan Sayed Worrell, author of Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi. The Table Tales concept celebrates the people and stories that give flavour to recipes of the Middle East.