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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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.