RECIPE: Dushanbe sambusa with chickpea, spinach and mint by Caroline Eden

Staff reporter

Dushanbe sambusa with chickpea, spinach and mint by Caroline Eden

“Flaky and buttery samsa, Central Asia’s beloved turnovers, are known in Tajikistan as sambusa. Elsewhere in the region fillings are typically beef, lamb, pumpkin, spinach or potatoes but in Dushanbe there are chickpea ones and in the springtime, herb-filled variations,” explains food writer Caroline Eden.

“This recipe combines the two. Samsa or sambusa are always eaten with green tea, this is especially the case if they’re lamb as tea cuts through the fat.”


(Makes 15)

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained

3tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped

Handful of spinach

1tsp fine sea salt

1tsp black pepper

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp dill seeds (optional)

1 x 320g packet of puff pastry

1 small egg, beaten

1tsp black sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)

Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to garnish (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and line a large baking tray (or two smaller trays) with greaseproof paper.

2. In a food processor add the onion, and pulse a few times, then add 100g of chickpeas, the mint and spinach, and pulse so it comes together.

Put the mixture into a large bowl and mix in the salt, pepper, spices, dill seeds, if using, and the remaining unpulsed chickpeas.

3. Lightly flour the work surface and the pastry, and roll it out to 37 x 28cm. Using an 8cm cutter, stamp out 15 rounds then put a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each one and bring up the edges to create a triangle shape. Press to seal, creating a samosa-style triangle. Repeat with the remaining pastry.

4. Place on the baking tray seam-side down. Brush each one with the egg wash and scatter over the black sesame seeds or a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and a few grindings of black pepper, if you like. Bake for 15 minutes, then when the pastry has fully risen, lower the oven temperature to its lowest setting and bake for a further 10–15 minutes, until the layers are dry and crispy.

Red Sands: Reportage And Recipes Through Central Asia From Hinterland To Heartland by Caroline Eden is published by Quadrille, priced £26. Photography by Ola O. Smit. Available now.

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