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Cheese-Filled Sambusak

March 25, 2021
Photo: Justin CovingtonPhoto: Justin Covington

Shavuot, a holiday where dairy meals are traditionally served at Jewish homes throughout the world, commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It falls 50 days after the planting of wheat on the second day of Passover; with crops, as well as wild greens and grass, appearing throughout March, April, and May, more food was available for goats and sheep to eat in the hot, dry Middle East by the time Shavuot came around. If the animals had more to eat, they produced more milk and thus, this became the holiday of cheese, cheesecakes, and cheese-filled pastries.

Featured in: A Syrian Treat for Shavuot

Great for: Shavuot

Ingredients

  • The Dough:
  • 1 ½cups smeed (semolina, not semolina flour)
  • 2 ½to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Dash salt
  • 3tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • The Dough:
  • 1 ½cups smeed (semolina, not semolina flour)
  • 2 ½to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Dash salt
  • 3tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • The Filling:
  • 3large eggs
  • 1pound Muenster, Armenian braided cheese, mozzarella, or kashkeval cheese, in chunks
  • 6ounces feta cheese, in chunks
  • Dash salt (optional)
  • ½cup roasted sesame or nigella seeds or a combination of both
Yield: about 60 sambusak

Preparation

  • Step 1

    Mix the semolina with the all-purpose flour in the bowl of a food processor equipped with a steel blade. Add the salt, oil, and butter. Pulse until the dough is lumpy; do not over mix. Add 3/4 cup water, pulsing until the dough together is smooth and pliable. Set the dough aside.

  • Step 2

    Prepare the filling by beating 2 of the eggs, then mix with the grated cheese or cheeses and salt. The mixture should be slightly dry.

  • Step 3

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cover 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

  • Step 4

    Roll out dough to a 1/8-inch thickness with a rolling pin, your hands, or a tortilla press. If using a tortilla press, cover with plastic wrap so the dough doesn’t stick to the press. Then cut into circles.

  • Step 5

    Put 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of the circle. Fold one side over the other to form a half moon. Press the edges to close and crimp them, if desired. Put the sambusak on the 2 cookie sheets, leaving 1/2 inch between them.

  • Step 6

    Beat the remaining egg and brush it on the pastries. Then sprinkle with seeds.

  • Step 7

    Bake the sambusak for 15 to 20 minutes on the middle and lower racks of the oven until slightly golden, switching racks after 10 minutes. Do not overcook.

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