Cheese Sambusak (turnover pastries)

Syrian Jews and other Sephardic Jewish groups make sambusak year-round as a tasty light meal. My father makes a big pile of sambusak and freezes them before baking. When we come for a visit without a notice, he just takes them out of the freezer, bakes them in the oven, and serves them with cut vegetables.



1 kg all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 margarine (200 gr)
1 cup canola oil
2 cups lukewarm water
1½ tablespoons dry yeast


500 gr crumbled unsalted farmer cheese
100 gr crumbled Bulgarian or feta cheese
1 egg + 1 yolk

Sesame Coating

1 beaten egg white
200 gr sesame seeds


  1. In a food processor combine all the dough ingredients and Process until the dough forms a ball (you can also knead the dough by hand if you do not have a food processor).
  2. Place the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover bowl with kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Place in a warm place for half an hour to rise.
  3. Mix the filling ingredients
  4. Cut the dough into four pieces. Roll each piece on a floured surface until the thickness is almost 2 mm.
  5. Use a cookie cutter or a cup to cut out dough circles – 10 cm in diameter.
  6. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the circle. Fold the circle in half over the filling. Seal the edges by pinching gently with your fingers to create a half-circle shape.
  7. My grandmother shapes the edges with her fingers, but you can use a fork to mark the edges of the sambusak—this will help seal them and also make them look pretty.
  8. Dip each pretzel in a beaten egg white following by sesame seeds and place in a greased baking tray 2 cm apart. If you do not wish to bake them yet, you can put the baking tray in the freezer, and then move the frozen sambusak to a storage bag.
  9. Preheat oven to 180°C. Bake sambusak for about half an hour until golden. Serve hot or in room temperature.