Sambousek- the Middle Eastern brother of Samosa!

Edited1Sambousek! As soon as I read the word aloud and looked a picture of this savoury from the Mediterranean Mezze Platter, I said to myself; Aha!! A brethren of the very popular street snack Samosa- is it! I was delighted when my first reaction was proven right!

The Syrian Foodie says ‘Sambousek is one of these words that is very widely used but it doesn’t have a specific meaning. In essence it is meat filled pies served as a starter, part of mezze spread or a side dish. Sambousek is a very popular dish across the Middle East. The popularity of the dish goes all the way to India. You must have guessed that samosa is a variation of the name’ 😀
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These can be fried or baked. I baked them and did not miss the fried version at all! And to add to the joy- these are wholegrain, made from coarse Punjabi aata. If this isn’t snacking heaven- what is!

I filled the Sambouseks with a feta cheese and spinach filling. Play around and use anything you like for the filling, sweet or savoury. I adapted the recipe from Natalie Ward’s wonderful vegetarian blog, where she has made them with fig and feta.
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I made 35 small Sambousek with this recipe
For the pastry/outer covering of the sabousek

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour/aata
4 Tbsp Oilve oil
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp fennel seeds/saunf
1 tsp cumin/jeera
½ cup warm water to knead the dough

Add salt and olive oil to the flour in a large bowl.
Crush the fennel and cumin slightly with a rolling pin (to release the aroma and flavours better) and add to the flour.
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Mix well and knead well to get a soft and supple dough. Transfer to an airtight box or cling film and leave in the fridge for an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the Filling
A small bunch of spinach, washed and chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
A pinch of salt
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp olive oil
100 gms feta cheese ( Can substitute with a mixture of processed cheese and paneer/ cottage cheese if feta not available) cut into small thin rectangles

Heat the oil and add the onion and garlic.
Once the onion becomes transparent add the spinach and cook till all the water evaporated. Season with just a pinch of salt and some pepper. (The feta is salty enough to balance the flavour so the spinach needs very little salt)
Let cool completely.

To get the Sambousek together

Divide the dough into two.
On a well floured surface roll out about 3mm thick and cut out circles.
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Place a spoonful of spinach filling in the centre and top with a piece of feta.
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Moisten the edges of the dough circle and bring two opposite ends up and seal.
IMG_5593Now bring the other two opposite ends up and seal. (A gujiya maker can be used, but I really found this shape very cute J )
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Transfer them to a greased baking dish and brush the sambousek with olive oil.
IMG_5596Bake in a pre heated oven at 180C till they brown. Brush very lightly with oilve oil or butter and serve hot.
(These can be cling filmed and stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  Take them out ten minutes before the baking and proceed.)
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Serve with Tzaziki and Harissa yogurt dip.
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Rob-e-Anar Kaashta or Pomegranate Cheesecake Ice Cream served with Cocktail Shikaf

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I present Rob-e-Anar Kaashta Ice cream ,served over a bed of Cocktail Shikaf.
A Pomegranate Cheesecake Ice cream served with Fruit Cocktail, Lebanese style!
This Frozen Treat is my tribute to all the lovely Lebanese desserts I saw on this wonderful blog- Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen , which I have been closely following for  the past month in the course of my Lebanese quest.
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This month onward, I have joined the ‘Kitchen Divas’ and will be doing a theme based post every month. The theme for April is Frozen Treats.

I have incorporated Kaashta/Clotted milk with rose water, Rob-e-Anar/Pomegranate molasses and Cocktail Shikaf to get this gorgeous dessert.

Kaashta/Astha is clotted cream prepared with rose water and orange blossom water. To prepare it add a tsp of sugar to 3 cups of whole milk. Bring this mixture to boil and add a few drops of lemon juice. The milk starts to clot immediately. Add rose water and orange blossom water and mix well. With a strainer, collect the clotted cream (or chhena as we call it!) and transfer it to another vessel. Keep collecting till the liquid gets clear.  Add a few drops more of lemon juice if required.
To incorporate into the ice cream, I drained the Kaashta a little to get rid of the excess liquid.
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To get this frozen treat together you need

400 mils heavy cream/whipping cream (I used Rich’s heavy cream)
200 gms condensed milk
All the kaashta prepared
½ cup of mixed nuts, raisins and tutti frutii
½ cup of pomegranate molasses/ Rob-e-Anar
100 gms of digestive biscuits/graham crackers
30 gms softened butter
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Make sure the cream is chilled before you start making the ice cream.
I like to set the ice cream in a butter paper lined tin. It is easy to get it out neatly. Any metal or plastic container may be used.
Because I wanted to make a cheesecake style ice cream, I used a spring form tin. In fact, any tin can be lined with butter paper and used.
Crush the biscuits and mix with the butter to form a bread crumb like mixture.
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Spread HALF of the of the biscuit crumb mixture at the bottom of the tin and press it in nicely. Save the other half for layering the ice cream.
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Leave the tin in the freezer for about fifteen minutes.
Crumble the kaashta into the mixer and add about 7-8 tbsp cream.
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Blend till mixed well.
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With an electric hand mixer, mix the kaashta and condensed milk. Beat well for half a minute on low.
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Fold in the mixed nuts, raisins and tutti frutii.
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In a separate bowl beat the cream till peaks form.
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Gently fold in the condensed milk mixture into the cream.
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Take the tin out of the freezer and gently transfer a layer of ice cream mixture over the biscuit layer, sprinkle with some crumb and repeat till the mixture is used up.
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Generously sprinkle the top of the ice cream cake with slivered pistachios, cashews and almonds.
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Seal it nicely with cling film and a layer of aluminium foil.
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Let it set for 5-6 hours.

Remove from the freezer fifteen minutes before serving.
Prepare fruit cocktail or Cocktail Shikaf by chopping a cup of mixed fruits per serving.
I used mangoes, banans, apples, grapes,oranges and strawberries.Any seasonal or tinned fruits may be used.
Puree a few strawberries or kiwi fruits and mix well with the fruits. Drizzle some honey and throw in some chopped walnuts.
Serve a slice of ice cream over a bed of fruit cocktail and drizzle all over with pomegranate molasses 😀
Enjoy!!

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Check out the other #FrozenTreats my blogger friends have dished out this month!
Dolphia @ The Story of Cooks
Anjana @ At The Corner Of Happy And Harried
Jyothi @ Curry Trail
Sujatha @ Spices and Treats
Subhasmita @ The Flavours of Kitchen
Madhuri @MAD About Kitchen

Red or Green Pepper Hummus

It’s a very chip and dip kinda weather. A regular meal doesn’t seem to appeal but a snacky affair makes the palate sing! So here is a lighter and fresher version of hummus, loaded with peppers (red or green whichever you want to make it with! ) Fill it into Pita sandwiches, or simply use a sandwich spread or use it to dunk your nachos in, hummus is a healthy treat for the taste buds.

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For the Green Pepper Hummus
(Or Red Pepper Hummus)

A medium size red or green pepper
1 red chilli
1 cup chick peas/kabuli chane, pressure cooked till cooked tender (save the water used to boil the chick peas)
1 small onion
2 Tbsp Lemon juice
Salt, to taste
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely pounded
1 tsp toasted cumin powder
½ tsp coriander powder
Water left over from boiling the chick peas
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (Find the recipe here)
1 Tsp Olive oil
½ tsp black pepper

Roast the pepper and chilli over an open flame till it is charred all over. Alternatively, char them under a hot grill.
Peel and cube the pepper and chop the chilli.
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Heat the olive oil in a small pan and fry the onions till tender. Add the cumin and coriander powders and take off the heat. Let cool.
Add the chilli and pepper along with the  chilli and pepper and all the other ingredients listed above.
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Blend till you get coarse, grainy paste adding water (saved from boiling the chick peas) slowly as required. Do not add all the water at once!
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Drizzle some olive oil.
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Garnish with paprika or some cumin powder.
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Serve with pita fingers, or Vegetable Crudités (carrot fingers, cucumber slices, paneer fingers, asparagus spears, sliced apple, pepper strips etc)

Recipe source- BBC Food Recipes

Baba Ghanoush and Mutabal- Middle Eastern Dips with Smokey Aubergines

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My Gran makes her special special ‘bina chaaunk ka baingan bharta’ where she roasts the aubergines, peels and mashes them but does not further cook or temper them as is usually done in case of ‘Baingan ka Bharta’. She simply adds fine chopped tomatoes, onions, green chillies and fresh coriander along with some spices and serves it with a generous squeeze of lime. When I read up the recipes for Baba Ghanoush/Ghanouj, it reminded me of Naani style baingan bharta. And I got to say they are close,almost identical in fact!
I am amazed at the way food finds echoes across boundaries.
I made Baba Ghanoush with the green aubergines rather than the dark ones as they are slightly sweeter and milder than the other ones.

You need
1 medium Aubergine/brinjal , dark or green any will do
1 Tbsp Pomegranate molasses
2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
A clove of garlic
½ tsp salt (or to taste)
1 small tomato
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped (can use fresh coriander if parsley not available)
A few drops of white vinegar or a dash of lime  (Can skip if tomato is tart)

Roast the aubergine over the stove till the skin is completely charred.


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IMG_4863Alternatively slice into two and char it under a hot grill. Peel, remove the seeds and mash it once it cools down a little.
Leave it in a colander for about 15 minutes so that the excess liquid drains off. This will ensure a thick and creamy dip rather than a watery one.

Blend the aubergine mash and all the other ingredients in the food processor till you get a coarse paste.
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Drizzle with some olive oil. Garnish with some parsley, olives and a tomato rose.
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Serve cold with warm pita bread wedges, nachos and crackers.
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Mutabal is another dip which is made with smoked aubergine and the method to prepare it is similar to Baba Ghanoush
The ingredients for Mutabal are

1 medium Aubergine
1 Tbsp Tahini (find recipe here)
1 Tbsp Yogurt
2-3 cloves of garlic
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Blend the aubergine mash and all the other ingredients, apart from olive oil, in the food processor till you get a coarse paste.
Drizzle with some olive oil.

Recipe sources- Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen and Syrian Foodie in London.