Cheese-stuffed pastries

November 23, 2014  •  Category: ,

cheese turnovers


cheese turnovers

My grandmother Téta Nabiha, used to make us these dainty turnovers (called sambusek) on a regular basis, stuffed with ground meat. Her nimble little hands folding the lower fold over, pinching them delicately and oh so evenly. She’d first moisten the flour with ghee (called samneh) then add water and knead it briefly till smooth. These sambusek were then fried in an oil bath. I prefer to bake them. Less messy!


cheese pastries ready
cheese pastries before baking
  •                3 cups of all-purpose flour
  •               1 tsp. of salt
  •               1 tsp. of baking powder
  •               ½ cup oil or ghee or clarified butter
  •               3/4 cup  water
  •               1 egg beaten with a fork
  •               1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Cheese filling

  • 2 1/2 cups of grated white cheese (mozzarella or akkawi or similar)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley or other herb like dill
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ tsp. white pepper or paprika
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  1. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixer bowl. Mix to combine. Add the oil in a thin stream while stirring until the oil is no longer visible. Add the water gradually till it is no longer sticky; flour lightly and cover with a damp towel for 30 minutes.
  2. Combine the filling ingredients; cover, and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease your work counter. Roll the dough until it is very thin and cut into 3 or 4” circles. Place one tablespoon of filling in each round, fold over into a half-moon shape, pinching the fold, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden and dry. Serve immediately.

NOTE: You can freeze these pastries prior to baking for 3 weeks.




10 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Alicia (foodycat) says:

    These look so delicious! I do love a cheesy pastry.

  2. Rosa says:

    Scrumptious pastries!



  3. Oui, Chef says:

    These look outstanding, and I love that you can bake rather than fry them.

  4. Joumana says:

    @Alicia (foodycat) thanks!
    @Rosa, thanks!
    @Oui, Chef!, yes, these can be baked or fried. In restaurants they are usually fried.

  5. Arlette says:

    Hello Joumana,
    I am making some today, with several stuffing.. Sahtein.
    Waynik Inti

  6. MyKabulKitchen says:

    Looks delicious, love that you bake instead of fry, do you have any suggested uses for Bulgarian cheese? I bought a huge block and wanted to do something new 🙂

  7. soha says:

    Hi Joumana,

    So Happy that I have stumbled upon your website. Wonderful Blog!
    I was wondering if you had a subscribe option anywhere?



    • Joumana says:

      @Soha: Hi and happy that you like my blog! I did have an RSS feed. Now however, I am on all the social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (and Instagram). I will see if I can install a subscribe through e-mail plug-in soon. Happy holiday season!

  8. Joumana says:

    MyKabulKitchen: Is it really salty? I would get rid of the extra salt (soak it a few times in tap water), and use it for these or with pasta or mixed with diced tomatoes and chopped mint and olive oil (to spread on a pita or on crackers). Or mix with eggs and diced tomatoes and onion for a speedy and yummy omelet.

  9. Kristi Abuissa says:

    My first batch of sambusek puffed up and they are hollow inside. (The cheese only fills about half, the other half is air.) I will try flattening the next batch before baking because I like the way that yours look totally cheese filled.

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