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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Samosa

Who can resist a well made hot and crisp Samosa! Spicy potatoes encased in a crisp pastry, yum 😀
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Okay, maybe fit only as a rare indulgence, but magical with a cup of coffee or chai. I made samosas for the first time last Diwali and realised how simple they were to make!
Now before a party or a festival, I make these mini samosas at least a day in advance, ziplock and freeze them. I fry them as and when needed. The maximum I have frozen and stored them is a week. These come in real handy as starters or snacks.
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Play around with the filling as you want. I do the traditional potato filling and sometimes a potato, onion and peas filling.

For the filling
Potatoes, peeled and chopped fine- 4/5
Oil- 1 Tbsp
Asafoetida/heeng- ½ tsp
Cumin seeds/jeera- ½ tsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Red chilli powder- ½ tsp
Green chilli, chooped fine- 1 tsp (adjust as per taste)
Ginger, grated fine- 1 tsp
Garam masala- ½ tsp
Aamchoor/mango powder- ½ tsp
Fresh coriander leaves/cilantro/hara dhaniya

Heat oil, add the asafoetida and cumin seeds. As the cumin starts to crackle, add the potatoes, green chilli, ginger, salt, red chilli powder and mix well. Cook covered till the potatoes soften. When done add the garam masala and amchoor and mix well. Mash some part of the filling mixture and mix. Add the chopped coriander and the filling is ready.

For the samosas (This recipe gives about 40 small samosas)
Maida/All purpose flour- 500 gms
Salt- 1 tsp
Oil- ½ cup ( or a little more if needed)
Carom seeds/ajwain- 1 tsp
Oil to fry the samosas
Mix all the listed ingredients. Rub the flour with finger tips till the mixture resembles bread crumbs and a fistful of the flour holds well. Add water slowly to knead firm dough. Rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 20 parts and make balls. Roll out to make a small circle. Cut into two halves to get two equal semi-circles.
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Bring one end to the centre of the semi-circle and seal with a dab of water. Bring the other end to form a cone.
Spoon in some filling and seal the opening after moistening the edges with some water. Make all the samosas like this. Deep fry in medium hot oil. If the oil is too hot, the insides will remain raw while the outside browns too quickly. If it is not hot enough, the samosa will soak a lot of oil! So the heat needs to be right.

To store, transfer to ziplock bags and freeze. Remove and fry as and when needed. They stay good for up to a week.
Enjoy with fresh coriander chutney and tamarind chutney!

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