Nestled between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in central Asia lies the picturesque country of Uzbekistan, characterized by its ornate mosques and intricate architecture originating from the era of the silk road. Luckily for us, the country also boasts one of the greatest snack foods in the world – the Samsa!
What exactly is a Samsa?
A Samsa is a light pastry that’s filled with meat such as lamb, beef or chicken, or sometimes vegetarian options such as cheese, potato, or pumpkin and is then baked in a traditional tandoor (Tandyr) oven. It’s closely related to the Indian Samosa, but the Uzbek variety is characterized by the use of cumin, both black and red pepper, and sesame seeds that give it a distinct flavor!
Origins of this tasty treat!
Samsa is the perfect traveling food – the recipe was perfected as an ideal food for traders making their long journey along the silk road. They can be eaten both warm and cold, and due to the pastry encasing the cooked meat, they tend to keep for up to a week! This made them the perfect snack for a long journey through the mountains, and it’s likely that they were the fuel behind the busiest trade route between Asia and Europe for hundreds of years. The fact that they are so steeped in the country’s history makes them extra special for the people of Uzbekistan, and they’re still as popular as ever at parties and other special occasions, or simply as a lunchtime snack!
So, how do I get my hands on this amazing food?!
Here at NetCost Market, we love encouraging our customers to explore cuisines from around the world, which is why we’ve included a recipe for Samsa right here for you to try at home!
You will need:
For the dough – 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of warm water, ½ tsp salt, ½ cup melted ghee (simple unsalted butter also works).
For the filling – ground lamb meat*, 3 onions – finely chopped, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp red pepper (if you have no red pepper, 1 tsp black pepper is fine).
For glazing – 1 egg yolk, sesame seeds.
*Beef, chicken, cheese and spinach, potato, or pumpkin also make great alternatives!
How to make (makes 18 small Samsa):
- Sift flour into a mixing bowl.
- Separately, add ½ tsp salt to the cup of water and mix until dissolved.
- Combine the flour and water and knead until a smooth dough is formed – probably around 10 minutes. Allow the dough to stand covered for 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle flour on a work surface and roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 1/8 of an inch thick.
- Cover the rolled-out dough in ghee and roll it up tightly like a cigar.
- Cut the dough into 18 separate pieces and then press each piece down with the palm of your hand from the side to make it flat like a patty – the hand should be pressing down directly on the swirl of the dough so that once flattened, a flat dough patty with a swirl is formed.
- Place the patties in the fridge for at least 3 hours
(Filling and assembling the Samsa)
- Combine all the filling ingredients and mix well. Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 385F.
- Take the dough patties out the fridge and roll each one out into a thin circle sheet.
- Place an equal amount of filling onto each rolled-out circle.
- Imagine that each circle is divided into equal thirds. Bring two of the thirds together so that a single corner is formed. Pinch along the seam where the pastry meets. Now bring the bottom up and pinch together again where it connects with the pastry.
- On a baking sheet lined with baking paper, lay all of the Samsa out evenly.
- Cover each of them liberally with the beaten egg yolk and then sprinkle them generously with sesame seeds.
- Bake for around 30 minutes until golden brown and crispy!
There’s no snack quite like Samsa and we’re sure that when you’ve made it once, you’ll be hooked for good! Try making it next time you have a party or gathering with friends. At NetCost Market, we stock the best quality goods from both the US and Europe, making us the ideal place to get all the ingredients you need to make this indulgent and tasty Uzbek dish!