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Origami appetizers

Otherwise known as Somalian samboosas
By LINDSAY STERLING  |  June 4, 2008
A HAPPY TEACHER Makes for a happy student.

Welcome to a tasty morsel of Somalian life. Samboosas are fried triangular savory pastries, stuffed with sautéed ground beef, jalapenos, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, and cumin. They’re typically eaten in the evening after the daytime fasts of Ramadan, but the executive chef of the Harraseeket Inn discovered they make great appetizers any time.

Ever since one of her Somalian prep cooks, Abdi Roble, made them for an internationally themed banquet, samboosas have been on the menu at the inn’s Broad Arrow Tavern ever since, garnering requests for the recipe. Here it is, straight from a cooking session with Abdi, who first learned how to make samboosas from his mother in Paidohwa, Somalia (across the Arabian Sea from India, and north of Kenya).

As you sauté the meat filling (recipe below), make glue out of flour and water in a small bowl, and get a stack of eight large whole-wheat wraps or tortillas. Now, are you ready for some edible origami? The pictures at can help. Take the first tortilla and cut it like a pizza into quarters. Take one of the quarters in the palm of your left hand (if you’re right-handed) with the point facing up and the round side sweeping the bottom of your palm. The pointer finger on your right hand is your Glue Finger, swiping the tortilla with glue at key points while your other fingers fold the meat into a neat triangular package.

You’re going to make a little cone out of the tortilla into which you’ll put the meat filling. Fold the bottom corner to the upper middle of the piece and swipe with glue along the horizontal edge facing you. Pull the other bottom corner up to form a cone and secure by pressing the sides together over the glue strip. Put a tablespoon of meat into the cone. To close the meat inside, press the top front edge of the cone over the meat with your third and fourth fingers and swipe with glue, and also put a dot of glue on the middle of the front of the cone. Fold the back flap of the cone over the whole thing, pressing onto the glue dot, and voilà, you should have a neat triangular packet filled with meat. Good. Now do 31 more! Don’t worry; you get faster with each one. When you have them all assembled, fry five or six at a time in two inches of hot oil until golden brown. They’re great dipped in a sweet-and-spicy sauce (like bottled Thai Sweet Chili Sauce) or chutneys.

Makes 32 appetizers
Prep time: 1 hour
8 large Cedar’s whole wheat wraps (or flour tortillas)
1.25 pounds beef
three-quarter teaspoon whole coriander, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle
three-quarter teaspoon whole cumin, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle
three-quarter teaspoon ground cardamom
three-quarter teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
half a large red onion, finely diced
salt to taste
canola, corn, or peanut oil for frying

Sauté meat with all the other ingredients until meat is fully cooked. Season with salt to taste. Quarter the tortillas, make a cone out of each piece, stuff it with meat, and fold, gluing with flour-water paste, into triangles. Fry samboosas in two inches of oil (just under the highest heat) until golden brown. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to get them out of the hot oil, and let dry and cool on paper towels.

Samboosa assembly

1. When you quarter your tortilla, this is what it should look like.
2. Fold the bottom corner toward the upper middle of the piece, and swipe along the edge
facing you with flour paste.

3. Fold the other corner up to make a cone and press together over the glue strip so you have a
cone-shaped pocket. Fill with 1 tablespoon of meat.

4. To seal the meat in, press the top edge of the cone over the meat and swipe with glue. Dot the
front-middle of cone with glue.

5. Fold the back flap over the whole thing, making a neat stuffed triangle.

Authentic samboosa wrappers
(Instead of store-bought tortillas or wraps)
Makes 32
4 cups flour
about two-thirds cup warm water

In a large bowl, slowly mix the water into the flour with your hands, kneading together, stretching, and folding until you have a ball of dough that doesn’t stick to your hands. Knead dough on a floured counter until uniform (about 5 minutes). Form dough into a uniform log, and cut into 8 equal pieces and make into balls (each should be just smaller than an orange). Press balls into four-inch wide patties. Oil the top of one patty with your fingertips, put another patty on top of that, and roll them together with a rolling pin into a 10-inch double-thick tortilla. Put an upside-down pie plate on top, and trace around the edge with a knife so you end up with a neat circle, which is important come assembly time. Do that three more times with the rest of the dough, so you have four double-thick tortillas.

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