Recipes > Mezze (Lebanese Appetizers) , Lebanese Cuisine

Meat Crescents / Sanbusak bil-lahmeh

Makes 25-30

  • 150 g plain white flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to brush dough
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 25g pine nuts
  • 125g lean minced lamb
  • ¼ tsp Adonis ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Adonis Seven Spices
  • 1/8 tsp Adonis ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (or your choice of variation mentioned above)
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil for frying<
Cooking instructions

Mix the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the oil to the well and, with the tip of your fingers, mix the oil with the flour until well incorporated. Gradually add 90-100 ml water (it is difficult to measure the exact amount of water as it depends on the brand of flour you are using) knead until you have rough dough.

Remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 minutes. Invert the bowl over the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes. Knead for another 3 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form into a ball, cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and saute, stirring constantly until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a double layer of kitchen paper to drain of the excess fat. Cook the minced meat in the same butter, stirring and mashing it with the pack of a wooden spoon or fork so that it separates well and does not form lumps until it loses all traces of pink. Season with Adonis cinnamon, Adonis Seven Spices, Adonis ground black pepper, and salt to taste. Add the lemon juice (or vinegar, very juice or pomegranate syrup) and sauteed pine nuts. Cook for another minutes or so. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

Divide the dough into two balls. Place one on a lightly floured surface. Flatten it slightly and sprinkle with a little flour. Roll out into a large circle, about 2 mm thick, turning over the dough regularly and sprinkling with a little flour every now and then so that it does not stick. Use a 7 cm round pastry cutter to cut the flattened pastry into as many circles as you can. Pick up the excess pastry, knead together and let it rest under the damp cloth.

Turn the circles over. Then take one and lay it on the fingers of one hand. Put a tea spoon (or less if you are making smaller crescents) of the meat filling in the middle and fold the dough over the meat, aligning the edges to form a half circles. With your free thumb and index finger, pinch the edges together into a thin flat edge, starting at one end of the half circle. Slide the filled pastry onto the tips of your fingers so that the flat edge is on the outside. Pinch the end that is furthest from you to flatten it even more and fold it towards you into a little diagonal pleat. Continue pinching and pleating the edge until you form a fluted edge (or until you form a border resembling a twisted cord)- this is done to decorate as well as to seal the pastry tightly together so that it does not open during frying. Place the finished crescents until you finish the first lot of circles.

Fill a large frying pan with enough vegetable oil to deep fry the pastries and place the pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot - test with the corner of one pastry; if the oil bubbles around it, it is ready - slide in as many crescents as will fit comfortably in the pan and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon onto several layers of kitchen paper to drain of the excess oil.

Take the oil of the heat and roll out the remaining dough. Knead the cut outs together. Cover and let rest while you make and fry more crescents. Roll out the left over dough and finish making the crescents - you should end up with 25-30 pieces. It is important you make and fry the crescents in batches so that the dough does not dry up or rise too much. As with fatayer, sambusak freeze well, but here it is best to freeze them raw and fry them frozen. Serve hot or warm.