Hanukkah Recipe: Iraqi Chickpea Turnovers (Sambousak)

Sambousak, Iraqi dumplings filled with chickpeas.
Sambousak, Iraqi dumplings filled with chickpeas. Vered Guttman

Jews around the world interpret the tradition of eating fried foods for Hanukkah in different ways. For Iraqi Jews, a traditional food is sambousak b'tawa, turnovers filled with chickpeas. 

This recipe yields about 16 sambousaks.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. flour

1 teaspoon instant yeast (or 1 1/4  teaspoon active dry yeast)

1 teaspoon sugar

2/3 cups warm water

2 tablespoon olive oil + more for frying

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Olive oil

For the filling:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 can (15 oz.) cooked chickpeas

1. Put flour, yeast and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Mix for 1 minute on medium speed, then add water, and mix for 2 minutes. Add oil and salt and knead on medium speed for 5 minutes. Remove from mixer, gather dough to the center of the bowl, cover bowl with towel and let stand in a warm spot in the kitchen for about 1 hour until it doubles in volume.

2. To prepare the filling, sauté onion with oil in a pan over medium-high heat until golden-brown, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently (you may want to reduce the heat to medium if onions brown too quickly). Add sugar, turmeric and salt and cook for another minute. Add strained chickpeas from can and remove from heat. Put chickpea mixture in the food processor and pulse to create a chunky mixture. Set aside.

3.When dough is ready, divide it to sixteen 1 1/2-inch balls and cover them with a towel. Using a rolling pin roll each ball to a thin 4-inch circle, put a generous tablespoon of the mixture in the center and use your fingers to close the turnover to a half-circle shape. Transfer to a tray and repeat with the rest of the dough.

4.Layer a baking sheet with two layers of paper towel. Heat 1/4 inch oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, fry 5-6 sambousaks at a time for about 1 minute on each side until golden-brown. Transfer to baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the sambousaks. Serve immediately.