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The Secret of Superb Sambousek

Whether you are a fan of falafel, a lover of lahembajin or a connoisseur of kebbeh, no Lebanese food experience is truly complete without a sambousek or two. Here we will take a closer look at one of the Middle East’s most beloved snacks – prepare to meet your new favourite food.

best Sambousek sydney

CC image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Many countries, cultures and families have their own secret recipe and special technique for making Sambousek

What is Sambousek?

Also known as sambousik, sambousak or samboosak, sambousek is essentially a small pastry filled with either meat or cheese. In Lebanon, lamb is the meat of choice and cheeses can range from haloumi to nabulsi right through to feta. Onions, herbs and spices provide the flavour while pine nuts add a deliciously nutty texture and taste. These popular pastries can be either baked or fried and are often served as part of a classic Lebanese mezze spread.

A taste of Persia

As with many of the Middle East’s most popular foods, there is much contention surrounding who created the sambousek; however, it seems almost certain that it was first eaten around the 10th Century in Persia. Early records refer to a poem recited in honour of sambousek at a 10th Century banquet in Baghdad, while Persian historian Abu’l -Fazl Bayhaqi makes mention of sambousek around the 11th Century in Tarikh-e Beyhaghi, his written history of the Persian Empire.

best sambousek inner west

CC image courtesy of dynamosquito on flickr – http://bit.ly/1MxAbAJ

An influential snack

Ancient scholars believe that traders from Central Asia introduced sambousek to India sometime around the 13th or 14th century and not only did this tasty pastry quickly become popular, but after incorporating the local flavour and culture it would evolve into the much loved Indian samosa. Another version of sambousek created by Sephardi Jews spread throughout North Africa, Portugal and Spain, providing the inspiration for what would become one of Spain’s most popular foods, the mouth-watering empanada. Today you can find versions of the sambousek right across Central Asia, the Middle East and beyond.

best sambousek newtown lebanese food

CC image courtesy of Harold Litwiler on Flickr – http://bit.ly/1MpD3v9

A Ramadan essential

This beloved pastry holds a special place in the hearts of Islamic people everywhere as it has long been considered an essential element of our iftar meal – this is the meal eaten to break the fast at the end of each day during Ramadan. Sambousek provides the ideal way to get the energy and nutrients your body needs without overburdening an empty stomach and you won’t find many foods that can compare with the sambousek for taste.

How to make sambousek

Every country, culture and family has their own secret recipe and special technique for making sambousik; however, the basics are as follows.

  • Prepare a simply pastry dough and roll it out flat.
  • Sauté onions and ground lamb in a large frying pan with oil, then add pine nuts and your favourite spices (baharat and za’atar are popular choices). Once the meat is browned, remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool.
  • Cut your dough into small discs (roughly the size of a measuring cup) and fill each one with your meat mixture. Fold them into crescent shapes and seal with your fingers.
  • Heat oil in a large frypan to roughly 180C.
  • Fry your crescent pastries until golden brown then place them on paper towels so that any excess oil can drain.
  • Your sambouseks are now ready to enjoy! Serve hot or cold with your favourite dip.

Whether you have been enjoying sambousek for years or are looking to try one for the very first time, nobody makes them quite like we do. Drop by Manoosh or order online, we are proud to have the best sambousek in Sydney and would be honoured to prepare a fresh batch for you.


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