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Beef Sambousek: Savour the Flavours of Tradition

Sambousek, is a special recipes that captures the essence of communal cooking and the joy of sharing. These savoury pastries, traditionally filled with a flavourful mixture of beef or feta cheese, are a versatile dish that can be fried for a crispy finish or baked for a healthier alternative. My childhood memories in Sudan are filled with moments spent alongside my aunts, crafting these savoury bites, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. They served as a perfect meze or a complementary side to a warm bowl of lentil soup.

The process of making Beef Sambousek is not just about cooking; it’s a cultural ritual that brings families and communities together. The preparation involves making a dough from scratch, followed by a rich stuffing that combines minced beef with a blend of spices and toasted pine nuts, encapsulating the vibrant flavours of Middle Eastern cuisine.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced cook, the journey of making Beef Sambousek is an invitation to explore the Middle East’s rich culinary traditions and create lasting memories around the dining table.

Basic Ingredients for Beef Sambousek


All-Purpose Flour: The foundation of the dough, providing structure and elasticity, allowing it to hold the filling and maintain shape during cooking.

Sugar: A small amount enhances the dough’s flavour, subtly balancing the savoury filling.

Salt: Enhances the overall flavour of the dough and the filling, ensuring that the sambusek is well-seasoned.

Butter: Adds richness, flakiness, and a tender texture to the dough, making it more enjoyable to eat.

Water: Hydrates the flour, binding the dough ingredients together to form a cohesive mixture.


Vegetable Oil: Used for sautéing and deep-frying, it provides a medium for cooking and contributes to the golden, crispy exterior of the sambusek.

Onions: Add sweetness and depth of flavour to the beef filling, creating a more complex taste profile.

Minced Beef: The main protein component, offering a hearty and satisfying filling.

Spices (Salt, Black Pepper, 7-Spice Powder, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Ground Saffron, Coriander): These spices contribute to the rich, aromatic flavour characteristic of Middle Eastern cuisine.

Pine Nuts: Add a subtle crunch and a nutty flavour, enhancing the texture and taste of the filling.

alternative ingredients

Flour: Whole wheat flour can be used for a healthier dough, though it may alter the texture.

Butter: Oil can be substituted for a dairy-free version.

Minced Beef: Ground chicken, turkey, or vegetarian options like cooked lentils or mushrooms can replace beef.

Pine Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, or cashews can be alternatives or omitted for those with allergies.

Preparation Tips for Beef Sambousek

  • Ensure the dough is not overworked to keep it tender.
  • Keep the filling mixture cool before stuffing to prevent the dough from becoming soggy.
  • Seal the edges properly to prevent the filling from leaking out during frying or baking.

Serving Tips for Beef Sambousek

  • Serve hot for the best texture and flavour.
  • Pair with a side of fresh salad or soup for a balanced meal.

storage tips

  • Uncooked sambousek can be frozen on a tray before transferring to a freezer bag, preventing them from sticking together.
  • Cooked sambousek should be cooled completely before storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat in an oven or toaster oven to maintain crispiness, avoiding the microwave which can make them soggy.

Beef Sambousek

Servings: 48 pieces
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup water


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 500 g minced beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp 7-spice powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch ground saffron, optional
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying


  • Place the flour in a deep bowl, add the sugar, salt and butter, and mix well with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add the water in small quantities and mix thoroughly until a dough forms. Cover with a kitchen cloth and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions until they are translucent.Add the minced beef and fry until they have browned. Season with salt, black pepper powder, 7-spice powder, cinnamon powder, turmeric powder, ground saffron and coriander powder. Remove the saucepan off the heat and stir in the pine nuts. Keep to the side to cool.
  • Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface until 3 millimetres thick. Use a medium-sized cup or 9-centimetre pastry cutter to cut out rounds. Take one piece of dough and place in the palm of your hand and place 1 tablespoon of the stuffing in the centre of each piece. Fold and pinch the edges together to seal, then pleat by overlapping folds or crimp with a fork. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling. Place on a lightly flour-dusted baking tray while you work.
  • Deep-fry the sambousek in preheated oil for 5–6 minutes or until golden brown in colour. Remove from oil and place in kitchen tissues to absorb excess oil then serve.

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