Sambousak Bi Lahm (Egyptian Meat Pies)

Recipe by Susiecat too

A savory meat pie from Egypt. The recipe calls for ground lamb, most frequently I don't have lamb available so I use ground beef. It is still quite delicious. You can either make snack size, in which case this recipe makes 20 pastries, or a larger size (similar to the size of a Hostess fruit pie, for those who know American junk food!) in which case you will get 12. This recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden, from her "The Book of Jewish Food."

Top Review by JenniferB_RN

These were really delicious... I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 because I had to add a few spices to get the taste right. I used this recipe as my base, but I added spices that I'd seen in other recipes (to taste). I added coriander and curry (I think the most important additions), plus a little turmeric and fennel seeds. I also used phyllo. Yum!

Ingredients Nutrition

  • For the pastry

  • 23 cup oil (canola oil or olive oil are my preferences)
  • 23 cup warm water
  • 12 teaspoon salt (I use a generous 1/2 tsp)
  • 3 cups flour (more or less, according to need)
  • For the filling

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb ground lamb or 1 lb ground beef
  • 12 teaspoon allspice
  • 23 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 14 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • To finish

  • 1 egg yolk, for the glaze (optional)
  • sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oil, water and salt, until dissolved.
  3. Gradually work in enough flour to make a soft, malleable dough.
  4. You may roll it out right away to use, or if you want to set it aside for an hour or so you can, but keep it covered and at room temperature.
  5. Now make the filling: Brown the meat in a large skillet, breaking up into small pieces.
  6. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent and starting to brown.
  7. Add the salt, pepper, allspice and cinnamon, and stir well.
  8. Add the water to deglaze the pan and cook another 5 minutes or so.
  9. Add the toasted pine nuts and mix well. Turn off the heat.
  10. Now divide your dough in pieces, either 12 pieces for large pies or 20 pieces for small pies (appetizer-sized).
  11. Without using flour for the rolling board or rolling pin, roll each piece into circles or ovals, less than 1/4 inch thick, if possible (equivalent to less than 1/2 cm). This is an oily dough and won't stick to your rolling board or your pin, and doesn't need extra flour.
  12. For small pies put 2 heaping teaspoons of filling, for large pies put 3 generous tablespoons, just off-center.
  13. Fold one half of the dough over to cover, and make a half-moon shape. Seal the edges by pinching, folding and twisting.
  14. Lightly oil (or spray with Pam) your baking sheets, and place the pies spaced at least 1/2 inch apart.
  15. Mix the egg yolk with about one teaspoon of water, and use to glaze the pies, if desired.
  16. If desired, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.
  17. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.
  18. Let cool a few minutes before eating, as filling will be very hot. These are also good cold the next day, if you have any left!
  19. Freezes well.

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