We can confidently say that no Lebanese feast is complete without a sambousik or maybe two. Happiness is when you have one meat and one cheese sambousik in your hand. Crispy and crumbly, these little fried creations are one of Middle East’s most beloved snacks.
What is sambousik? This pastry is also known as sambousek, sambousak or samboosak. It is essentially a small pastry filled with either meat or cheese and a range of other spices. Usually in Lebanon, lamb is the meat of choice and cheese can range from halloumi to nabulsi right through to feta. Other ingredients such as onions, herbs, pine-nuts and spices provide flavour and add a deliciously nutty texture and taste. These pastries are best enjoyed fried but can also be baked – often served at Lebanese restaurants as a part of a classic spread.
Who created the sambousik? This is a much-contested debate, as with many of the Middle East’s popular foods, everyone wants to claim this famous dish as theirs! Many people believe that this pastry was first enjoyed around the 10th century in Persia with early records of a poem mentioning sambousik at a banquet.
Sambousik holds a special place in the hearts of Islamic people, especially throughout Ramadan. This pastry is seen everywhere as is considered an essential element of a meal throughout these religious periods. Usually eaten to break the fast at the end of each day during Ramadan, this pastry is the ideal snack to get the energy and nutrients the body needs without overburdening an empty stomach.
Every Middle-Eastern country has put its own twist on this delightful pastry. Each culture and family has their own secret recipe and technique for making sambousik. However, we are going to provide you with the basic recipe for making a good sambousik.
- Prepare a simple pastry dough and ensure you roll it out flat
Saute’ onions and ground lamb in a frying pan with baharat, pepper, cumin, za’atar, olive oil and pine nuts
- OR… combine feta and halloumi cheese (or any cheese of your choice) with eggs, parsley and black pepper in a food processor
- Cut your dough in small discs and fill each one with the meat mixture.
Fold them into a half-moon shape and seal with your fingers
- Fry these pastries until golden brown and place them onto a paper towel so that the excess oil can drain
- Your sambousik’s are now ready to enjoy! Serve it with your favourite dip and you have the perfect snack!
The best way to enjoy sambousik is alongside a range of other mezza dishes including hummus, tabouli, fattoush and falafel. The beauty of mezza is that you can enjoy a variety of different dishes in small portions without feeling too full to continue to the main course. We love pairing sambousik meat with hummus as the combination of the creamy dip and crispy pastry creates a sensational element of taste and texture. Cheese sambousik also pairs well with tabbouli and baba-ghannouj, and a great option for the vegetarian lovers!
Have you tried the famous sambousik? Indulge in one of the best Lebanese dinners ever at Sahra by the River in Parramatta. Enjoy an array of delightful mezza and fulfilling main meals with sweeping views of the Parramatta River. All our dishes and ingredients are made fresh to order on-premises to ensure you are experiencing the best Lebanese experience in Sydney!