Make Ahead

Spiced Lentil Sambusas

December 30, 2010
Author Notes

I first had sambusas at an Ethiopian restaurant where they were served brain-searingly spicy. I loved them, but I've toned down the heat considerably here to make these fragrant, tasty little snacks a little more universally enjoyable. And really, without the flaming heat you can better taste how the lentils and spices play off of each other. Sambusas are traditionally made with ground beef, but lentils make a wonderful vegetarian alternative with a depth of flavor all its own. I've also taken the liberty of adding a shortcut for the outer shell (wonton wrappers) and have chosen to bake them instead of deep frying them. —vrunka

  • Serves 8-10
  • 2/3 cup beluga or puy lentils
  • 3 cups water or stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup carrot, finely diced (about 1 large carrot)
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced (about 1 small onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, shredded
  • 40-50 wonton wrappers
  • olive oil for brushing
In This Recipe
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add lentils. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the lentils are soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile in a large pan over medium high, heat the oil. Add the onion, carrot, garlic and jalapeno pepper. Saute until soft and slightly brown, about 5 minutes or so. Add the spices and adjust according to taste.
  3. When the lentils are done, drain any excess liquid and stir them into the veggie mixture. Combine well and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees and have ready a non-stick baking sheet.
  5. Set up a work area with the filling, wrappers and baking sheet all close by. Also fill a small dish of water and have that nearby. Working one at a time, take a wrapper and generously dampen the edge of the wrapper by dipping your fingers in the dish of water and spreading the water around the perimeter of the circle. Mound one heaping teaspoon of filling on the wrapper. Close the wrapper so that it's now a semi-circle. Pinch the edge tightly and set on the baking sheet. Repeat until you run out of filling or wrappers.
  6. Brush the sambusas liberally on all sides with olive oil. Bake until golden brown, about 6-10 minutes, then flip and brown on the other side for just about 2 or 3 minutes. These are great served warm or at room temperature.
  7. The sambusas are great on their own, but I recommend serving these with a dipping sauce. Lots of sauces go well with these little treats – chutney, sweet chili sauce, mint sauce. Here's a quick and easy sauce to put together: Whisk together 1 cup yogurt with the juice of one lemon, a minced garlic clove, salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of olive oil.

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