Somali Sambusas Recipe | Cook the Book

Caroline Russock

Made by Somali immigrants in Minnesota using Chinese ingredients, these Somali Sambusas from One Big Table by Molly O'Neill represent a wonderful view of what American cooking has become.

This recipe comes from Ilahn Omar, who makes over 100 sambusas each year for Ramadan so that her Muslim friends and relatives have something portable to snack on after sundown. Her trick to being able to put out so many at once? Chinese egg roll wrappers. According to Ms. Omar they taste even better than her homemade dough.

Trying these sambusas out at home, it's easy to see why. The subtly spiced beef filling fries up beautifully in the egg roll wrappers, which brown evenly in just a few minutes with great crackly-tender shells enclosing a juicy, meaty center.

Adapted from One Big Table by Molly O'Neill. Copyright © 2011. Published by Simon & Schuster. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Recipe Facts

Total: 0 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder, plus more to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 package egg roll wrappers
  • Water, for sealing


  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in the beef, parsley, curry powder, garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook about 5 minutes, stirring to break up lumps, until the meat is no longer pink. Taste and add more curry powder if you want. Transfer the meat mixture to a medium bowl and cool to room temperature. Wipe out the skillet.

  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut each egg roll wrapper in half diagonally. Working with one triangle at a time, lightly brush the edges of the wrapper with water. Fold the long side of the triangle in half, pinching the edge to seal and form a little cup.

  3. Place a generous tablespoon of the meat mixture into the cup, then pull the open flap of the wrapper over the cup, pressing to seal. As each sambusa is finished, place it on the baking sheet. When the sheet is full, cover the sambusas with another piece of parchment paper and continue layering with finished sambusas.

  4. Line a platter with several layers of paper towels. In the skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil until a deep-frying thermometer reads 365°F to 375°F, or a pinch of flour bubbles and sizzles in the oil. Add half of the sambusas to the oil and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. using tongs or a skimmer, transfer the sambusas to the paper-towel-lined platter to drain briefly. Repeat with the remaining sambusas. Serve.