Ethiopian Berbere Beef Sambusas

Ethiopian Berbere Beef Sambusas Recipe

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These sambusas are filled with a tasty beef (or half beef and half ground lamb) filling that is flavored with berbere spice, chilis, onions, garlic, ginger, etc.. Serve them as an appetizer or as a "pastie" alongside a crisp salad.


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1 Hr
30 Min
Deep Fry


  • 3 Tbsp
  • 1/2 tsp
    cumin seeds
  • 1
    bay leaf, crushed
  • 2
  • 6 clove
    garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp
    fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 lb
    ground beef, (or half beef and half ground lamb
  • 1
    tomato, chopped
  • 2
    green chilis, chopped (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp
    berbere seasoning, adding more if you feel it necessary (ethiopian spice seasoning)
  • ·
    salt to taste (approximately ½ tsp.)
  • ·
    chopped cilantro or parsley, optional
  • 1/2 tsp
    freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp
    chopped fresh cilantro

  • 3 c
    all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 c
    cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp
  • 3 Tbsp
  • ·
    extra flour, for coating the dough
  • ·
    sambusa wrappers, below

How to Make Ethiopian Berbere Beef Sambusas


  1. To a skillet add oil over medium heat, saute the cumin seeds and crushed bay leaves, until they become fragrant
  2. Add the chopped onions until almost translucent. Add garlic, and ginger until flavors are released, being careful not to burn the garlic and ginger.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomato juices have evaporated.
  4. Add the beef and break up with a spoon.
  5. Add the chilis, berber spice, salt and pepper. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary to your taste.
  6. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and all the moisture has evaporated, about 15 minutes or so.
    (NOTE: It is important that the mixture is as dry as possible.)
  7. Spoon a bit of filling onto the end of each sambusa wrapper. Do this in an equilateral triangle shape. Then gently fold the sambusa over, keeping the filling tightly wrapped inside. Use a water and flour mixture to help glue edges. Continue until you reach the end of the wrapper. For more detailed directions, follow Sambusa Dough method written below.
  8. NOTE: Take care not to leave holes at the corners of the triangle because that will let in too much oil.
  9. Fry in oil over medium-high heat until golden brown. (5-10 minutes). Remove Sambusa's and drain on paper towels. Best served when hot.
  11. Mix all ingredients together and knead until smooth. Dough should be soft but not sticky where dough is just moistened and comes together in a ball. You may need to add more water or flour to achieve the right consistency.
  12. Split the dough into equal size balls.
    Below are two different methods for rolling out the dough, one is using a pasta machine roller and the other is by hand.
    If you are using a dough machine, split them into 8 small balls and if you are going to work them by hand split the dough into 4-6 larger balls, according to the size baking pan you are going to use. Let the dough relax for about 30 minutes.
  14. Take one of the small dough balls and coat it in flour. Turn on the dough machine and put the dough through on the thickest setting (On some dough machines, this setting is listed as 1).
  15. Then change the setting to the next thickest setting, (number 2), and roll the dough through it again.
  16. At this point, fold in both sides of dough in order to get the dough a bit more narrow and to fit better. Then place the dough back through settings number 1 and 2, and finally 3 and 4.
  17. If the dough becomes too long or thin for you to work with, you can cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Also continue to coat the dough with flour while working with it so that it doesn’t stick to the machine.
  18. Cut the dough into 2 or 3 rectangle shaped pieces, about the right size for sambusa wrappers.
  19. Trim the ends if they are uneven. Coat the dough very well with flour and place them on a baking sheet stacked about 3 high. (It’s very important to make sure they are coated well with flour otherwise they will stick to each other and become unworkable).
  20. Place these in a 200 F oven for about 4-5 minutes, or until the dough is partially dry and a bit more firm, being CAREFUL not to dry it too much so that it won't crack, but firm enough so it holds its shape when you are ready to work with it. The point is not to cook the dough, but just to get it firm and sturdy.
  22. Take one of the large dough balls and coat it in flour.
  23. Press the dough into a large circle on the table and then pick it up and stretch it between two fists gently until it grows larger.
  24. Stretch the dough over the bottom of a flat baking sheet, trying your best to keep it even in thickness.
  25. Let the dough relax for 5 minutes to prevent it from shrinking, then cut it into rectangle shapes, trimming off any excess to keep them as rectangle shapes.
  26. Place the cut-outs on cookie sheets (not stacked) into a preheated 200-degree F oven for about 4-5 minutes, or until the dough is partially dry and a bit more firm, being CAREFUL not to dry it too much so that it won't crack, but firm enough so it holds its shape when you are ready to work with it. The point is not to cook the dough, but just to get it firm and sturdy.
  27. Once you are done with the sambusa dough, coat well with flour and stack and place in plastic wrap for storage. You can leave it for a few days in the fridge or longer in the freezer until you are ready to use it.
  29. Once you are ready to add the filling of your choice, ready up the Sambusa dough for cooking.
  30. Cut a 60 degree angle on one end. Then place the filling down in the shape of an equilateral triangle.
  31. Carefully fold the triangle over, so that whatever side was pointing down is now pointing up. Continue this movement until you reach the end of the dough. Trim off any excess and if the end is too dry you can add a bit of water or water/flour mix to help it stick together so it doesn’t come apart during the frying.
  32. Makes approximately 48 sambusas.

Printable Recipe Card

About Ethiopian Berbere Beef Sambusas

Course/Dish: Meat Appetizers
Main Ingredient: Beef
Regional Style: African

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