Cheese Samboosaks: Classic Comfort Food
Shavuot is traditionally a holiday of luscious dairy dishes, based on the biblical description of Israel as a land of milk and honey.
If you want an addition or a change from blintzes and cheesecake, try these classic cheese samboosaks, a favorite among the Baghdadi Jews of India. They are my family's go-to comfort food with a cup of chai tea ll year-round.
Here is my mother's recipe. When we first came to the U.S. from Calcutta in the 1960s, she didn't know how to cook at all, since we had a cook in India. Cheese samboosaks were one of the first foods she tried in her American kitchen to recreate a taste of home. She and my father make them together.
Her recipe is followed by a link to food writer Tori Avey's website. Tori converted to Judaism, and married an Israeli, so she is especially interested in exploring Jewish cuisine and food history. She shared this recipe for Purim, but it is equally great for Shavuot and... just about anytime.
1 cup self-rising flour ½ lb. mozzarella, ½ lb. cheddar, grated
3 cups plain flour l Tbsp. plain flour
½ cup oil 5 eggs (about), beaten
1 cup tepid water (approx.) Pinch of cayenne pepper
Mix flour and oil in bowl. Add ¾ cup of the water, and add the last quarter-cup gradually until it becomes a soft dough. If after one cup the dough is still stiff, add an additional teaspoon of water at a time. You do not have to knead it like bread. When you think you are done, pinch a piece off and roll it into a ball in the palm of your hands. Cover the bowl with wax paper or towel so the dough doesn’t dry out.
Put the grated cheese in another bowl, and gradually add the beaten eggs, stirring until the mixture is moist enough to hold. Add the tbsp. of flour and mix together. The mixture must not be too stiff or too liquid. If it is stiff, add one or two more eggs.
Shape the dough into small balls. Place the balls one a time on a floured board and roll to a small, thin circle with a rolling pin. Place one heaped teaspoon of the cheese mixture on one half of the circle, fold over the other half and press the edges firmly together. Cut around the edges with a dough cutter or sharp knife. Discard or reuse the dough that is cut away.
Place samboosaks on a greased baking sheet and bake in 375 degree oven for 18 minutes. Makes about 36.
Tori Avey's Recipe:
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Rahel Musleah was born in Calcutta, India, the seventh generation of a Calcutta Jewish family that traces its roots to 17th-century Baghdad.