Somalia

People talk about lifelong friends, and I have one that is definitely a lifer. My mom met his mom at an aerobics class when they were pregnant with us. We were born 16 days apart and we have been friends since we were snug in our mother’s wombs. We lived four houses apart for a good portion of my childhood and our families spent a lot of time together. We had sleepovers, we put on shows and sold tickets to the neighbors, played countless games of cops and robbers, played pranks on our sisters, and grew up day by day. We have had years of being close and years of being very distant. We aren’t best friends, we don’t do life together on a regular basis, but we are lifelong friends. Our families have always been intertwined and I’m confident they always will be.  

He’s the kind of friend who is always up for anything. So when he was home from the East coast for a bit this winter I suggested we make some Somalian food together and he was all in.

When we started this food experiment I didn’t really give much thought to how many countries there are in the world. We’ve made food from some strange places. I’ve heard of Somalia, which is more than I could say for Svalbard and Jan Mayen, but I still had no idea what Somalian food was like. We settled on a recipe for Sambusas. 

Sambusas are appetizer-sized and made with little triangular dough pieces stuffed with a meat mixture and fried in a bit of oil. We opted to stuff our sambusas with lamb, onions, and a host of spices. Coriander, cumin, cilantro, cardamom, and garlic are a fabulous combination. We are big fans of lamb. If you aren’t adventurous enough for lamb you could easily make this dish with ground beef. But lamb, oh the lamb. It makes the dish so, so good. 

Sambusa wrapper

We rolled the dough into circles and shaped them into small cones to be stuffed before sealing the open edge. The recipe for this dough was unclear to say the least. We found ourselves laughing and trying to guess at what the recipe meant by each step. I’ve tried to refine and clear things up while adding our own spin on the original recipe. I hope you won’t be as confused as we were, but if you are just laugh and keep trying until it seems to resemble the pictures. 

Sambusas with fresh cilantro and pomegranate seeds

We stood around our kitchen drinking wine and munching on Sambusas as they came out of the pan so that we could eat while they were hot.  They were a hit. It wasn’t a fancy sit-down dinner but it was a great way to get to eat and commune with friends we don’t see frequently. Gather your friends old or new. Gather together and share time with people you love.

Yields36 Servings

For the Filling
 1 lb Ground Beef/Lamb
 1 Small Onion
 2 tsp Coriander Powder
 2 tbsp Cilantro [Finely Chopped]
 2 tsp Cumin Powder
 2 tsp Cardamom Powder
 1 tsp Salt
 1 tsp Pepper
 1 Jalapeno
 2 Garlic Cloves [Minced]
For the Flour Paste
 ¼ cup Flour
 ¼ cup Water
For the Sambusa Wrappers
 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
 2 tbsp Oil
 1 cup Luke warm water
 Salt

To make the Sambusa Wrappers
1

Mix the flour, oil, and salt with a fork. Slowly pour in the water and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable.

2

Form the dough into a ball and coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 15-20 minutes to let it rest.

3

Knead the dough again and divide into 8 equal portions. Form each portion into a ball.

4

Take two balls and roll them each into circles that are 5in in diameter. Then brush one with oil and place the other one on top. Roll the stack out together to form one 10in circle.

5

Cut the circle into quarters (pizza style) and roll each piece again to make it slightly bigger but keeping it's triangular shape.

6

Fry each piece lightly in a dry skillet on low heat just to dry it out, they should not become browned, just a bit dry. Flip and dry the other side. This should not take too long to accomplish.

7

Remove from the skillet and let them cool slightly before pulling the layers back apart. Set finished wrappers aside and cover with a towel. Repeat until all of the balls have been turned into wrappers.

For the Filling
8

Brown the meat in a skillet.

9

Add the onions, garlic and jalapeños. Cook until the onions and pepper have softened.

10

Add the coriander, cumin, cilantro, cardamom, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes to let the flavors blend together.

11

Then set aside the meat mixture to cool so that it is easier to handle when filling the wrappers.

Assembly
12

Create the flour paste with flour and water.

13

Take one of the triangular wrappers and form it into a cone shape. Use the flour paste to seal the long edge.

14

Fill the cone with filling and then seal the shorter edge with the flour paste as well. Pinch all the edges to ensure it is well sealed.

15

Heat a bit of oil to lightly cover the bottom of your pan. Add the filled wrappers to the pan and fry until golden brown.

16

Set finished wrappers on a plate lined with a paper towel. Serve while warm. Makes 36 sambusas.

Ingredients

For the Filling
 1 lb Ground Beef/Lamb
 1 Small Onion
 2 tsp Coriander Powder
 2 tbsp Cilantro [Finely Chopped]
 2 tsp Cumin Powder
 2 tsp Cardamom Powder
 1 tsp Salt
 1 tsp Pepper
 1 Jalapeno
 2 Garlic Cloves [Minced]
For the Flour Paste
 ¼ cup Flour
 ¼ cup Water
For the Sambusa Wrappers
 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
 2 tbsp Oil
 1 cup Luke warm water
 Salt

Directions

To make the Sambusa Wrappers
1

Mix the flour, oil, and salt with a fork. Slowly pour in the water and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable.

2

Form the dough into a ball and coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 15-20 minutes to let it rest.

3

Knead the dough again and divide into 8 equal portions. Form each portion into a ball.

4

Take two balls and roll them each into circles that are 5in in diameter. Then brush one with oil and place the other one on top. Roll the stack out together to form one 10in circle.

5

Cut the circle into quarters (pizza style) and roll each piece again to make it slightly bigger but keeping it's triangular shape.

6

Fry each piece lightly in a dry skillet on low heat just to dry it out, they should not become browned, just a bit dry. Flip and dry the other side. This should not take too long to accomplish.

7

Remove from the skillet and let them cool slightly before pulling the layers back apart. Set finished wrappers aside and cover with a towel. Repeat until all of the balls have been turned into wrappers.

For the Filling
8

Brown the meat in a skillet.

9

Add the onions, garlic and jalapeños. Cook until the onions and pepper have softened.

10

Add the coriander, cumin, cilantro, cardamom, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes to let the flavors blend together.

11

Then set aside the meat mixture to cool so that it is easier to handle when filling the wrappers.

Assembly
12

Create the flour paste with flour and water.

13

Take one of the triangular wrappers and form it into a cone shape. Use the flour paste to seal the long edge.

14

Fill the cone with filling and then seal the shorter edge with the flour paste as well. Pinch all the edges to ensure it is well sealed.

15

Heat a bit of oil to lightly cover the bottom of your pan. Add the filled wrappers to the pan and fry until golden brown.

16

Set finished wrappers on a plate lined with a paper towel. Serve while warm. Makes 36 sambusas.

Sambusas

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