Sambusaks, like bourekas belong to the delicious group of small, stuffed, savory pastries served around the world. Sambusaks, either filled with meat or cheese, are the most popular Syrian-Sephardic pastries. Cheese filling is typical at Channukah; meat is typical for Shabbat. Sambusaks freeze well; be sure to wrap them tightly in several layers of foil or plastic.
Yield: 60 pastries, approximately 1" in diameter
Combine the flour and salt for the dough. In a food processsor, mixer, or with a pastry blender, mix the crisco with the flour
until crumbly. Add the water and mix until the dough forms a ball. Let the dough rest while you prepare the filling.
Sauté the onion in oil until soft and translucent.
Add the ground beef and brown it gently, breaking it up with a large spoon or fork to avoid lumps. Continue
to brown for about 15-20 minutes so that all the red is gone. Drain the fat, let the meat cool, and then add the spices
and optional pine nuts. Preheat the oven to 400°.
Spread the sesame seeds on a cutting board. Separate the dough into 60 small, round balls. Dip each ball into the sesame seeds, and then roll into a 3 " round or use a tortilla press to press into a round. Put 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of the round, fold over, and then, beginning with one corner of the half-moon, make tiny overlapping folds to seal the dough, around the edge of the half-moon. Bake the pastries for 20-25 minutes at 400° F. When cool, these can be frozen. Be sure to wrap them well, either loosely in freezer bags, or closely packed in one layer enclosed in foil. Once defrosted, they should be warmed in a 350° oven until crispy. If you prefer to freeze them before baking, the frozen pastries should be baked without defrosting.