Right around now is the start of the ancient Zoroastrian holiday Mehregan, a celebration of the harvest that you might call the Persian Thanksgiving. It was celebrated in Iran for millennia, and though it’s not observed so much there now, it’s actually making a comeback among Iranian expats in the US and elsewhere. In honor of Mehregan, myself and a whole slew of Persian food bloggers are posting our tastiest recipes today. You can see the links to all their sites at the bottom of this post.
The recipe I’d like to share with you for Mehregan is sambuseh, the Iranian samosa. I tasted this when I was on the Persian Gulf in the city of Bandar Abbas. The sweet family who I spent the day with took me to the beach that night, and we bought street food and sat on the sand eating, talking, and smoking a qalyan, or waterpipe.
I was delighted to find light, flaky samosas in Iran. They were filled with ground lamb and potatoes, and had a spicy red chile sauce on the side for dipping. The tops were sprinkled with crunchy black nigella seeds, the fragrant, smoky tasting seeds that you’ll also find on top of Persian barbari bread. The nigella seeds are essential to the taste of this dish. Luckily, you can find nigella seeds at any Indian market, where they may also be called kalonji seeds.
I’ve been serving sambuseh every night of my weekly pop-up, Lakh Lakh. I change the filling, but the nigella seeds are always on top. The photo of sambuseh above was taken by Lizzie Munro, and appears in Tasting Table’s story about the pop-up. They loved the sambuseh, and who wouldn’t? It’s crunchy and rich and full of flavor, and it’s baked, not fried, in case you care about those things.
I wish you a very happy Mehregan and an abundant harvest season. Here’s a list of all the other wonderful Persian bloggers who are participating in this Mehregan recipe round-up, along with the names of their recipes. Going through this list, I realize that as far-flung as we all are, I’ve met or corresponded with almost all of these lovely people! Small world… My recipe for sambuseh is just below the list of links.
- The Unmanly Chef: Baghali Polo ba Mahicheh
- Coco in the Kitchen: Zeytoon Parvardeh
- Ahu Eats: Badoom Sookhte Torsh
- Bottom of the Pot: Broccoli Koo Koo
- All Kinds of Yum: Jeweled Carrot Salad
- Honest & Tasty: Loobia Polo
- The Saffron Tales: Khorosht-e Gheimeh
- Family Spice: Butternut Squash Stew • Khoreshteh Kadoo
- Cafe Leilee: Northern Iranian Pomegranate Garlic and Chicken Stew
- Fig & Quince: Persian Noodle Rice
- Simi’s Kitchen: Leeta turshisi Torshi-e-Liteh Tangy Aubergine Pickle
- Parisa’s Kitchen: Jeweled Rice (Morasa Polow)
- Turmeric & Saffron: Ash-e Haft Daneh – Seven Bean Soup
- Spice Spoon: Saffron-Scented Aubergine Stew – Khoresht-e-Bademjaan
- Zozo Baking: Masghati
- Fae’s Twist & Tango: Rice-Meatballs • Kufteh Berenji • کوفته برنجی
- Sabzi: Ash-e Mast (Yogurt soup with meatballs)
- My Persian Kitchen: Keshmesh Polow ~ Persian Raisin Rice
- Lab Noon: Adas Polo risotto style
- My Caldron: Anaar-Daneh Mosamma | Pomegranate Stew: A Persian dish of fall
- Della Cucina Povera: Ghormeh Sabzi
- Noghlemey: Parsi Daal Rice Pie
- Marjan Kamali: Persian ice cream with rose water & saffron
Sambuseh with Lentils and Potatoes
Makes approximately 1 quart of sambuseh filling, or enough to fill 20 sambuseh. The sambuseh can be assembled a day ahead, refrigerated or frozen, and baked later. This version of the sambuseh is vegetarian, but you can replace the lentils with ground lamb.
For the filling
- 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cups potato, diced
- 1 tablespoon dried rose petals ground
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups cooked lentils
- 1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the samosas
- 1 package phyllo dough
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons nigella seeds, toasted
- Dried rose petals, whole
- red chile sauce for dipping (Sriracha will work just fine)
Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onions. Cook until they start to brown, then add the potatoes and cook until tender. Add the dried spices, lentils, and cilantro, and cook until the lentils are heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Brush a sheet of phyllo with butter, fold the top third into the center, brush with butter, fold once more so there is a single, three-layered rectangle of phyllo. Brush with butter.
Place a tablespoon of filling into one corner, and fold into a triangle. Fold and brush with butter. Repeat with the remaining filling. Brush all of the sambuseh with butter and carefully sprinkle with the nigella seeds so that as many seeds as possible stick to the sambuseh. Place on a parchment lined sheet tray and bake for 15 minutes. Turn and cook on the second side until the triangles are crisp and golden, about ten minutes.
Serve warm, garnished with rose petals, and chile sauce on the side.