Writing this post is like time travel for me. My grandmother from my father’s side came from Iraq. She was born in the 1920’s. Had eight children and 17 grandchildren. And she loved food. I know, it’s a cliche, but she really did. She worked as a cook in a school and was always making sure that everyone will eat something, especially those coming from poor homes.
The same was in her home, there were always food ready, just in case someone comes. And they came. Her children were working nearby, often stopping by for lunch, and on the weekend, the entire family, in phases, was there to eat. There were always a pot of rice, a few condiments, jars of pickles and chilies, and some fried goodies to much on while she warms you up a plate.
One of these fried goodies was this fried pastry. As the name might entail, it is a relative of the Indian samosa. Generally, Iraqi and Indian cuisine have a lot in common. Thick condiments served with rice or flat bread, tangy pickled mangoes, a lot of turmeric and… these little fellas, fried little pockets filled with a strongly spiced stuffing. The seasoning is of course different, and also the dough. Iraqi sambusak is made of a soft dough, unlike it’s Indian counterpart.
500g all purpose flour
15g dry yeast
2 tablespoons oil
250 ml water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups cooked chickpeas
4 onions (you could change 2 with leeks)
oil for sauteing, salt, pepper, cumin, baharat
Start with making the dough. Mix all the ingredients together and kneed for 5 minutes. Leave in a warm place to grow for about one hour.
In the meanwhile, make the stuffing. Chop the onions and leeks and fry in a pan until golden (but not burned). Mash the chickpeas to a coarse mash, preferable with a potato masher or a meat grinder. Add to the pan alongside the pepper, cumin and baharat. Mix will and remove from the flame once it is all one. Add salt to taste and let it cool.
Once the dough had swollen enough, punch it to release air and start making little circles out of it. You can flatten it and make it using a cup, or make little balls and flatten them one by one. Place stuffing on one half, fold and press the edges to make it sealed.
Fry in a pan with some oil, over a medium flame, until golden. Serve while they are hot to enjoy them the most, but you can also just leave them on the counter and be stunned how slowly, one by one, they disappear.
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