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Shared by Vered Guttman

Sambousak B’tawa (Iraqi Turnovers with Chickpeas and Turmeric)

Yield: 16 sambousakTime: 1 ½ hours

Shared by Vered Guttman

Sambousak on white plate atop checkered tablecloth.
Photographer: Armando Rafael. Food Stylist: Judy Haubert. Prop Stylist: Vanessa Vazquez.

Sambousak B’tawa (Iraqi Turnovers with Chickpeas and Turmeric)

Yield: 16 sambousakTime: 1 ½ hours

Family Journey

BaghdadTel Aviv
Washington, D.C

A staple of Iraqi cuisine, sambousak are fried turnovers that can be stuffed with a variety of fillings. Food writer Vered Guttman’s grandmother used a yeasted dough for this version, filling hers with a mix of caramelized onions, turmeric and chickpeas before frying them. Like her grandmother, Vered makes these for Hanukkah when it’s customary to fry foods. 

Read about Vered’s Iraqi Hanukkah traditions in “My Grandmother’s Iraqi Hanukkah Party Inspired My Own an Ocean Away,'' and find her recipes for kubbeh batata (meat filled potato kubbeh) and quick doughnuts with cherry jam. You can also find more of our favorite Hanukkah recipes in this collection.  


For the dough:

  • ½ lb. all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  •  ⅔ cups warm water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar 
  • ¾ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Hanukkah Middle East


  • Step 1

    Make the dough: Add the instant yeast, flour and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix for one minute on low speed to combine, then add the water and salt and mix on medium speed for two minutes. 

  • Step 2

    Add the oil and salt to the bowl and knead on medium speed for 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a ball. Grease the mixer bowl with a bit of olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot in the kitchen for around 1 hour, or until it doubles in size.

  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Heat the two tablespoons of olive oil in a 10” skillet and add the onion, sauteing over medium-high heat until golden-brown, around 8 minutes. Add the sugar, turmeric, and salt and cook for another minute. Add the chickpeas, stir to combine, and remove from heat.

  • Step 4

    Let cool for 15 minutes, then put the chickpea mixture in a food processor and pulse to create a chunky mixture. Set aside.

  • Step 5

    When the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and punch it down. Divide the dough into 16 balls, each about 1 ½”. (You may want to grease your hands a little to prevent the dough from sticking.) Arrange the balls on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

  • Step 6

    Lightly grease a work surface and use your hands to stretch each dough ball into a thin, 4” circle. Add a generous tablespoon of the chickpea mixture to the center of the dough and use your fingers to close the turnover to a half-circle shape. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.

  • Step 7

    Cover a separate baking sheet with two layers of paper towels. Heat ¼” of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, fry 5-6 sambousak at a time, for about 1 minute on each side until golden-brown, using tongs to turn them. 

  • Step 8

    Transfer to the paper towel-lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the sambousak. Serve immediately.