This week’s promises to be another exciting adventure of new food, colors, shapes and smells. These pretty and tasty Sambousek is a perfect example of what I’m saying. Also known as Sambusas, Samosas, Samboosek, etc., etc.; this petite, delicious, simple yet complex in flavour savory pastries from the Middle East are fantastic. It’s fried so you know it must be good. Although some people bake them, but where’s the fun in that? Each country has its own tasty version and Saudi Sambousek has nothing to envy from other Sambousek.
One thing that hooked me about them from the beginning was the crust. Doing some research very few people actually prepare their own dough. Who would when there are so many (and good) store bought versions available? But this year’s challenge wouldn’t be so much of a challenge if I didn’t make this extra efforts. I have to admit my mom was staying with us this week and she was thrilled to help me out in the kitchen. I’m so glad and thankful, she really took some of the Trouble out of the Boil this week!. (THANX MOM!)
Dedicating some time and effort to prepare the dough from scratch had an immense reward. My plan was to try and make the dough as simple as possible, but still do it at home. I mixed the ingredients, let the yeast do it’s thing and while that happened go to my neighbor’s house for a little BBQ she had invited us to.
I really needed a little break from writing, researching, cooking and photo shoots. My plan was to spend only about 2 hours at Mari’s before coming back to work. Well, a glass of wine became 4, then somebody suggested a game of Charades, and before I knew it, I was tipsy and having a blast.
Meanwhile the yeast was also having a party of it’s own munching on the tasty carbs of my dough. When I got back home, the dough had been resting there for four hours and I wasn’t precisely “in the mood” for cooking anymore. So I grabbed the bowl were the dough was sitting and placed it in the fridge, so dough and dough-maker went to bed for a good night’s sleep.
I know letting yeasted doughs rest overnight is very convenient because the dough develops a complex texture and flavour. But sometimes I’m a little desperate, and my original plan was to let the thing rest for an hour or two before finishing the Sambousek. This time my little ‘mistake’ came back with a prize and this dough was BEAUTIFUL!! Super soft, elastic, silky, firm but very flexible, and had a very pleasant sweet and sour smell. In a word, it was a dream!
The Saudi style for the meat stuffing was also incredible. We’ve been having a major problem here on the island lately since the major importer of goods bankrupted. It’s been difficult to find certain things around, like Lamb Meat… I had to use ground beef, also common for Saudi Sambousek, and with their spices I swear it tasted like lamb. And the pine nuts also brought a beautiful nutty flavor as well as a nice bite to it. Now back to the dough… when you bite into the fried Sambousek….
… a choir of angels… the shutting of the eyes… hairs of arms and back of the neck raise with pleasure… oh the sound, the beautiful crunchy sound… then nice, soft and doughy inside… wonderful meaty interior in contrast with the crusty cover of the pastry… marvel of marvels… joy of joys … … … … WAKE UP!
But you are not dreaming! You open your eyes and you are still holding half a Sambousek in your hand. Over there a big tray of these goodies waits patiently for you, letting you know you are already awake and living a gorgeous reality. Life can be awesome, ENJOY IT!
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground sumac
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 lb ground beef or lamb
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 egg beaten + 1 tbsp water for egg wash
- Vegetable oil for Frying
- In a bowl, mix the lukewarm water, sugar and yeast. Let the mixture rest for at least 10 minutes until foam forms at the top.
- In a separate bowl mix the flour with the salt well together. Add the prepared yeast mixture and oil. Mix with a wooden spoon or a stand mixer with a hook attached on medium setting for about 5 minutes until the mixture separates from the sides of the bowl forming a single ball of dough. Turn the dough into a slightly floured surface and knead for 3 - 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Return the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight)
- Once the dough has rested and doubled in size, punch it down, turn it into a floured surface and cut into 30 equal sized pieces. Form each piece into a little ball and keep them all covered with a slightly wet towel or plastic wrap to prevent from drying.
- Using a rolling pin flatten each ball into a flat sheet of dough that is about 2 mm thin. Then use a 10 cm diameter round cutter to cut out a circle of dough. Stack the dough circles using small squares of parchment paper between each of them. Make sure to sprinkle a little flour on both sides of the dough so they are not sticky. You can keep the dough circles on the fridge until ready to use.
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook stirring often until it gets a nice caramel brown color about 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic along with all the powdered spices, cook stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes until it becomes fragrant but the garlic doesn't burn.
- Add the ground meat and mix everything well together. Add the salt and cook the meat for about 10 minutes until it browns and cook thoroughly. Turn off the heat, mix in the pine nuts and let the mixture cool to room temperature before using.
- Add about 1 tbsp of the meat mixture on the center of one of the dough rounds. Paint the edges of the dough with the egg wash using a finger. Visually imagine a perfect triangle within the circle of dough. Bring up the sides of dough that fall outside of that triangle and press them firmly together with your fingers. If your fingers are sticking to the dough, flour them a little but be careful not to flour the inside of the dough or it won't seal properly. Once done keep the raw Sambousek on a lightly floured surface.
- Fry your Sambousek in batches on medium heat on a deep fryer until golden brown in color, about 2 minutes on each side. Place on a dish covered in paper towel to remove excess oil and serve immediately for a crunchier experience. 😉
- Doing these can be lots of fun, but can also be time consuming. This is a great dish to get more hands involved on the process, chat, make jokes and have a good time in the kitchen.