Sanbusag (Triangular Turnovers with Meat Fillings)

I made this dish with a group of friends a while back.  The weather at the time was HOT and the kitchen even hotter.  The weather has cooled off a bit making this one of those perfect fall/winter dishes.  Make many because they will not last!

devoured meat pie

Sanbusag : Triangular Turnovers with Meat Fillings


Take meat from the back between the two shoulders, the inner thighs, the rump and some sheep’s tail fat.  Remove the veins.  Pound (the meat) very well on a board, with a knife.  Then pound with them, the whites (of onions) leak leaves, fresh coriander, rue, and some mint.  Pound them extremely well.  Pour over then Nabatean murri, as much as needed.  Throw into it dried coriander, black pepper cassia (cinnamon), cloves, what you prefer or aromatic spices and ginger, kneading them well with spices and oil.  Cook them well until done.  The (preparation)( is Isfidhaj.  If you would like to be sour, then throw into it some pounded (dried) yogurt whey, as much as you like, or some dried buttermilk or some sumac juice or any other souring agent, as you like, God willing.  When you have finished doing that then fill then sheets of bread with it, folding them into triangles, squares or rectangles.  If you would like to add some dried fruits, then throw in it that which you would like of walnuts, almonds, coconut, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and anything else.  If you would like to decorate it with eggs as is done during feasts and banuest, then do so.  If you prefer to make them in the Babaki manner, then take yeast dough ad roll it out thin\.  Cut out round with a round wooden mold similar to a small hollowed bowl.  Stuff it with meat and seal the edges together with fingernail impressions.  Deep fry in washed olive oil or sesame oil.  Once they are browned, then remove them and eat them with what you like made of vinegar or mustard.  This is the method of preparing Sanusaj and its various types of except of how to make them sweet.  (al-Warraq, Abu Muhammad al-Muzaffar ibn Nasr ibn Sayyar, Kitab al-Tabikh wa Islah al-Aghdhiya al-Ma’Kulat wa Tayyibah al-At’imah al-Masnu’at/Salloum, pp. 85-86)



1 lb ground lamb meat

1/2 a chopped onion

1 chopped white of a leek

1/2 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp dried coriander, black pepper, cinnimaon,

1 tsp fresh chopped ginger (1/2 tsp of dried will do if fresh is not available)

1/2 tsp of dried clove


Gather all of your meat spices and dough into one spot.

spices for meat pieBrown the meat then add your spices.  I decided not to get wild and funky with the filling the first few times.  That is for another night.  So I stuck with the basics of meat, spices and bread.  Get the basic down first then start playing with the different types and tastes.

I started the meat sizzling and add spices to the pan with the meat while it was cooking.

ground meat with spiceWhile the meat is cooking roll out your dough to the size desired.

rolled out dough

I did use the oil and spice dough suggested from Rodinson. This dough as a really good taste!  You can use a good butter crust or a lard crust.  This is one of those “I am the cook so I get to choose” decisions.

Here I used a small pie form, not because the dish called for the pie forms but because I liked the pottery.  As you can see by this recipe mix and match is part of the fun of this dish.  Place the rolled out dough into the pie plate or, if this is going to be a shell, place the dough on a cutting board to be filled.

meat in doughNext take the now cooked meat and fill your dough “pocket”.  Once the pocket is filled, seal the dough.

raw meat pieHere I was being very rustic i.e. lazy and flipped the dough ends up and over for a without regard to looks.  These do NOT last long.  If you are showing these in an A&S display use some creative imagination to make them pretty to the eye and not just yummy for the starving hordes in the house.

devoured meat pie

I didn’t have enough fresh olive oil to fry these so I placed them into the oven at the default temp of 350 till done, which is roughly 45 minutes, when the shell turns a nice golden brown.  There were none left for lunch left overs the next day.  They are just that good!

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