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Duck, Apricot, and Pistachio Sambusak

We’ve swapped the cheese in a classic sambusak for duck, apricots, and pistachios, to create an appetizer that’s more like a meal. Make these pastries ahead of time by filling and sealing the dough, then freezing for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to cook remove from the freezer, and fry in evoo or duck fat (how to render duck fat). And while sambusak are traditionally fried, we’ve included instructions for baking, too.

duck apricot pistachio sambusak

Save time by making the sauce ahead as well. Soak the chiles and combine the sauce ingredients and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 20 SambusakServings


Sambusak Dough:

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound (3⅓ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk

Sambusak Filling:

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil or rendered duck fat
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 dried apricot halves, soaked in very hot water until soft
  • 3 duck breasts or skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios
  • Freshly cracked pepper

Sambusak Assembly:

  • 20 prepared sambusak
  • 1 to 2 cups extra virgin olive oil or rendered duck fat
  • 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water (egg wash for baking only)

Apricot-Harissa Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 dried guajillo chile, seeded
  • 1 dried ancho chile, seeded
  • 2 to 4 dried chile de arbol peppers, seeded
  • 4 dried apricot halves
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 preserved lemon, or zest of one lemon plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper


Sambusak Dough:

1. Add evoo, water, salt, flour, and egg yolk to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until it holds together. Alternatively, you can mix all ingredients together by hand in a medium bowl with a pastry blender.

2. Transfer dough to floured surface and divide into 8 pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece into a thin rectangle, then cut into circles with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Set dough aside. Re-roll scraps of dough and you should have 20 circles to fill.

Sambusak Filling:

1. Lightly coat a small sauté pan with 2 teaspoons of evoo or duck fat (how to render duck fat) over medium heat. Sauté shallots for 3 to 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until it has softened slightly. Remove from heat and cool in pan.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, or blender, add shallot mixture, apricots, duck, caraway, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and chickpeas. Pulse until the mixture holds together. Carefully remove the blade and stir in pistachios.

Assembling Sambusak:

1. If baking, preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place filling in center of the dough circles. Fold over to make a half moon shape. Using a fork, lightly crimp edges to seal. Place on prepared baking sheet or plate.

3. If frying, heat duck fat or evoo in a large frying pan over medium high. Fry in batches of 5 to 6 at a time. Cook for 2 minutes, then flip and cook 2 minutes more, until sambusak are golden brown. 

4. If baking, brush egg wash over tops of sambusak. With a sharp knife, pierce a small hole/vent for steam to escape, in the tops of each pastry. Bake at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes, until tops are golden.

5. Serve sambusak hot from the frying pan or oven along with Apricot-Harissa Dipping Sauce.

Apricot-Harissa Dipping Sauce:

1. In a small sauce pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then remove from heat. Place dried guajillo, ancho, chile de arbol peppers and apricot halves in pot, and soak for 20 minutes, or until very soft.

2. Drain water from chilies. In a food processor or blender, add soaked chilies, apricot halves, garlic, red peppers, preserved lemon or lemon juice and zest, caraway, coriander, cumin, and evoo and pulse until a loose paste forms. Transfer to a small bowl.

3. Season with salt and pepper. Serve alongside as a dipping sauce with hot and crispy sambusak.