27 February, 2023
The battle between sambousik meat and cheese

Whether you are a fan of falafel, a lover of labneh or a connoisseur of fried kebbeh – no Lebanese food experience is truly complete without a sambousik or two. Sambousik is one of the Middle East’s most beloved foods and a must-have mezza both at home or when you’re visiting a Middle Eastern restaurant. 

What is sambousik?

Sambousik is a delicious savoury pastry served across the Middle East filled with either meat or cheese. In Lebanon, restaurants and households tend to use lamb as the meat of choice while cheese fillings usually range from feta to halloumi. The sensational flavours of sambousik come from the onions, herbs and spices – while pine nuts add a unique nutty texture and taste. 

What makes these pastries exceptional is the crunch. Sambousik can be either baked or fried – however, we love them fried! Crispy, crunchy and captivating, these fried little parcels of goodness will have you coming back for more.  

So, the question is – meat or cheese sambousik? 

This is a hard one for us to decide, as we believe happiness is having one cheese and one meat sambousik in hand. 

We are going to delve into the recipes of both meat and cheese sambousik – leaving you with the difficult decision to make. 

Meat sambousik: a must-have Middle Eastern food in Sydney

We reveal this recipe for the Lebanese version of ‘meat pie’.Not only do you have to get the filling right, but you must ensure the dough is made to perfection. The secret to a superb sambousik is nailing both the filling and the dough. Here are some tips and how you can do so. 

For the dough:
  • To make the dough, you will need to gather all of the correct ingredients. These include self-raising flour, plain flour, salt, sugar, vegetable oil and water.
  • To make the pastry, combine the flours, salt and sugar in a bowl and add the oil into the flour with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs. 
  • Slowly add the water and mix until a dough starts to form
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic
  • Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap – rest it at room temperature for one hour
For the filling:
  • To make the filling, you will need to gather the following ingredients: olive oil, pine nuts, brown onions, lamb mince, salt, pepper, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground nutmeg and ground coriander.
  • Combine all the baharat spices and set aside.
  • Heat some olive oil in a frying pan (medium heat) and add pine nuts to cook for around 2-3 minutes and then remove. 
  • Add the onion and cook until softened.
  • Add the mince, breaking up the lumps with a wooden spoon until browned.
  • Sprinkle the baharat and salt over the mince and continue to cook.
  • Add the pine nuts, give it a toss and remove from heat. 
For the assembly:
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface (around 3mm thin).
  • You can assemble these little pastries any way you like, however, we like to cut them in rounds and assemble them into a half-moon shaped pasty. 
  • Cut the dough into rounds and place a tablespoon of the cooked filling in the centre and fold in half to form a semi-circle.
  • Pinch the edges together to seal the pastry.
  • Repeat until the filling is finished.

et voila, you have created the perfect sambousik. All that is left is to fry them and of course, enjoy them. Sambousik can be fried or baked – we prefer them fried! 

Cheese sambousik: a vegetarian classic and key to Middle Eastern food in Sydney

The preparation of cheese sambousik is very similar to the ‘meat’ alternative – with the only difference being the filling. So, if you want to make cheese sambousik at home, you can follow the exact same procedures but just switch up the filling.

The way we like to enjoy our cheese sambousik is with feta cheese, onion and parsley, combined with pepper and other herbs if you please. 

So, the question is … which do you order when you make this pastry at home or visit a Middle Eastern restaurant in Sydney?

If you are a vegetarian – the decision is very simple for you. However, if you can eat both – we recommend you do just that. Why limit yourself to one choice when you can have both. Cheese sambousik has its own beauty, oozing with cheesy goodness and savoury flavours, while meat sambousik is a delicious Lebanese ‘meat pie’. 

What can you pair sambousik with at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Sydney?

The best way to enjoy meat or cheese sambousik is alongside several other mezza dishes including:

  • Hummus
  • Tabbouli
  • Fattoush
  • Falafel

The amazing quality of Lebanese cuisine is that you can enjoy a variety of different dishes in small portions – including the much-loved sambousik.

Are you ready to indulge in one of the best sambousiks you’ve ever eaten? Get prepared as Zahli Restaurant is ready to excite your taste buds. Here at Zahli, we have brought together the best Lebanese/Middle Eastern flavours to the streets of Sydney. 

Try it for yourself today and reserve your seat. 

Contact us on: (02) 9318 2228