William Meppem

These crescent-shaped pastries are very similar to Turkish boreks. Our Egyptian friend Denise and her mother Rachel make a version which is legendary among her friends. She uses ordinary cheddar cheese for a filling, which sounds banal, but they are absolutely delicious. This version, however, uses the classic Middle Eastern combination of spinach (you could also use silverbeet) and cheese, lifted with a dash of pomegranate essence. The crunch comes from hazelnuts, although traditionalists would probably use pine nuts, which are pricier. Serve them as party nibbles or as a mezze dish. Sambusek are also good as a starter drizzled with a tangy avgolemono sauce or the creamy coriander and soft-boiled egg vinaigrette.

The dough for sambusek is easy to make – we favour a mixture of oil and butter and self-raising flour. To make the little crescent shapes, pinch off a walnut-sized piece of dough and roll it to a thin round circle (approx 8 cm diameter) using a well-oiled glass bottle. Place a heaped teaspoon of your choice of filling into the middle, fold the dough over and shape the pie into a crescent. Traditionally the edges are then pinched and twisted to seal.



Quantity Ingredient
200g self-raising flour
30g butter, chilled
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch sugar
50-100ml warm water


Quantity Ingredient
30ml olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed with 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 bunches spinach, leaves picked and washed twice
100g toasted hazelnuts, skin rubbed away
50g fetta cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 lemon, juiced and finely zested
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
egg wash, made from 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water


  1. Place the flour, chilled butter, salt and sugar into a food processor, and whiz until the mixture is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add enough lukewarm water for the mixture to just come together in a dough. Allow to rest for half an hour before using.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the shallots and garlic for 3–4 minutes until they have softened. Throw in the spinach leaves, turning them as they wilt down. When all the spinach has collapsed and softened, tip it into a colander and press out the moisture well.
  3. Lightly crush the hazelnuts in a mortar and pestle.
  4. Put the spinach into a mixing bowl and add the hazelnuts, fetta, allspice, lemon juice and zest, hazelnut oil and pomegranate molasses and mix together thoroughly.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C. To make the sambusek, roll out the pastry on a floured surface to around 3 mm thickness. Cut out pastry circles using an 8 cm pastry cutter and brush half with the egg wash. Place a tablespoon of the mixture into the centre of the circle. Fold the pastry over to make a half-moon shape and pinch or crimp the edges to seal. Brush with more egg wash and place the pastries on a non-stick baking tray.
  6. Bake it on the middle shelf for 10 minutes or until golden-brown.
Middle East
Middle Eastern
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