Somali Sambusi dumplings with Parmigiano Reggiano - Somalia

Recipe by Beatrice - Betullalba

  • Difficoltà


  • Stagionatura

    24 months

  • For the dough:
  • 500 g plain flour
  • 300 ml water
  • 250 g potatoes
  • 250 g minced beef
  • 120 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 g salt
  • flour for pastry and to flour the Sambusi
  • For the filling:
  • 50 g onion or shallot
  • 50 g red bell pepper
  • 40 g grated Parmigiano Reggiano 24 months
  • parsley
  • 10 grains of coriander
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • oil for frying (peanut)
  • For the glue:
  • 30-45 ml of cold water
  • 10 g plain flour

Pour the flour and salt into a bowl; add the extra virgin olive oil in the centre and some of the water. Mix with a fork until a rough mixture. Transfer it to a lightly floured surface and carry on mixing with your hands. Add a little water at a time to obtain a firm dough (similar to the fresh durum wheat pasta one). Once you have a ball of dough, put it under a towel or plate and let it rest for about half an hour. Wash and peel the potatoes, cut into 2 - 3 pieces and boil for about 15 minutes. Drain and cool. On a chopping board, slice the onion very thinly. In a small mortar grind 10 grains of coriander into a fine aromatic powder (if you don't have a mortar and pestle use a small ceramic bowl and a wooden spoon as a pestle). In a pan heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, brown the coriander powder (if you do not like strong flavours, pound the coriander coarsely, let it season the hot oil, and then remove it, so you will only have its delicate aroma). As soon as the coriander unleashes its characteristic aroma, add the onion and fry. Next, add the ground meat and cook. Meanwhile, dice the boiled potatoes (5mm per side) and red bell pepper (previously cleaned) cut into small cubes, and very coarsely chop the parsley on the side. In a bowl, mix the cooked minced meat, diced potatoes and bell pepper, parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano, season with salt and a little freshly ground black pepper to taste. Prepare a "glue" by mixing 10 grams of flour and the cold water with a fork. Divide the dough into 4 pieces; roll out 1 piece of dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface: it should be about 2 mm thick. Cut the pasta into a  20 cm diameter circle (you can use a round cake baking tin). At the centre of the disc of dough slash a cross in order to get 4 triangular pieces. On one of the longer sides spread the "glue" and seal to obtain a high “open” cone similar to those used for popcorn. Fill the cone almost to the edge. With a little glue dampen the strip of dough and carefully seal the filled pastry. Continue until you finish all the dough and filling, then  place the freshly made pastries on a tray sprinkled with flour. Heat the peanut oil in a shallow and wide frying pan. When the oil is hot, fry the sambusi, first on one side (they should be golden brown), then on the other (better to turn them only once so as to not open them). Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot with a peppers and green salad accompaniment.


Recipes are the invisible baggage that we carry with us every time we move. Here it is, a crumpled slip of paper that fell from a book recounting the story of the years spent in Somalia. Sambusi, in fact, are nothing more than the Somali adaptation of Indian Samosa. The famous dumplings are mentioned for the first time in the fourteenth century by the Indo-Persian poet, Amir Khusrau, as one of the favourite foods of the Delhi Muslim aristocracy for their breathtaking banquets (the recipe at the time was with a filling of meat, chopped onions and clarified butter, ghee). From Delhi, the samosas spread to the rest of India, and then, under the British Raj, from the 18thC, reached all those countries under British rule.  From Kenya to South Africa, from Mauritius to Hong Kong ... military troops and Indian servants were transported and business followed the English trade. Thus, Samosas spread throughout the world; transformed, adapted and adjusted to local tastes, samosas have been so successful that the ancient origins of the dish were almost forgotten (they can be found with different names in Iran, Turkey, Eritrea, Mozambique, in North Africa and in every Indian restaurant in the United Kingdom). The same happened in Somalia: the community of Pakistani and Indian Muslims, whose trade in Mogadishu has always been consistent, made this dish  so ingrained in the cuisine of the coastal cities that it is now referred to as traditionally Somali.
Betulla Costantini