Holiday Recipes from the Middle East: Sambousek

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Happy Holidays from Caravan-Serai Tours and Willamette Intl Travel!

Each holiday season our friends over at Caravan-Serai offer an assortment of our favorite recipes from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

Sambousek: Bread pockets filled with zataar or cheese

This is a tasty appetizer and really easy to make in advance. The sambousek can be frozen after they are cooked, then thawed and warmed in the oven before serving. The first part is the basic dough mix, then the cheese and zataar fillings. Also, when we made them at the Petra Kitchen, we cut the dough into circles using wine glasses as the cookie cutters, and placed them on a cookie sheet liberally coated in oil and cooked them, open faced, in the oven. This is just an alternative method, and might be easier if you are making a large batch.

Sambousek Dough

  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 1/2 cup warm water
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. pinch of sugar
  5. 2 tsp active dry yeast
  6. 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Dissolve the yeast in 4 tsp of warm water and mix until until smooth
  • Sift sugar, salt, flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle
  • Pour yeast water, oil ad remaining warm water into the well in the center of the bowl
  • Mix by hand until smooth
  • Transfer dough to a floured flat surface and knead well by hand
  • Place mixture in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth and place in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled in size.
  • Return dough to floured surface and knead well again.
  • Divide dough into smaller balls and roll flat into circles and use cutter to cut into smaller circles with the cutter
  • Using a fork, lightly prick the dough on one side

Zataar or Thyme Filling (Sambousek b’zatar)

  1. 6 Tbs crushed dried thyme
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Mix thyme/zatar with oil
  • Place a teaspoon on to each dough circle
  • If you are going to fry these in a frying pan, fold the dough over and seal the edges. If you are going to bake them on an oiled cookie sheet, you can leave them open
  • Fry or bake until lightly browned
  • Serve hot

Cheese Filling (Sambousek b’jibn)

  1. 1/2 cup grated Gruyere or feta cheese
  2. 1 cup grated white cheese
  3. 1 onion finely chopped
  4. 1 tbs sesame seeds
  • Mix stuffing ingredients together and stir well
  • Place a teaspoon of stuffing on each circle
  • If you are going to fry these in a frying pan, fold the dough over and seal the edges. If you are going to bake them on an oiled cookie sheet, you can leave them open
  • Fry or bake until lightly browned
  • Serve hot

Call Willamette Intl Travel at 503-224-0180 to discuss options for travel in and around the Middle East.

To read what a Sample Tour through Israel would look like, click here.

Caravan Serai is a Seattle-based company that specializes in small-group escorted tours to destinations in the Middle East and North Africa such as Jordan, Turkey and Morocco. Expert guides escort guests through fun-filled and tasty itineraries, valuing comfort and safety all the while trekking across ancient paths and historical ruins.

To read more about Caravan-Serai, click here.

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Filed under Israel, Middle East

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