A Taste of Yemen

by Ahmed Muhamed, Staff Writer


On December 12, 2012, I arrived home after a long and tiring first semester in law school. As I opened the door and hugged my little nephews, they are age 7, 4, and 2, my nose picked up a scent that is all too common in my birthplace, Yemen! It was a scent that instantaneously took me back to my adventures in Yemen during the summer of 2010.


It was that summer when I first experienced Ramadan, the holy month in Islam where the faithful fast from sunrise to sunset, in a predominantly Muslim society. I would come home after sunset (maghrib) prayer and walk into a home immersed in an aroma I could never forget. It was the unforgettable scent of Samboosas: delicious little pockets filled with different assortments of meats and vegetables. It is a dish mostly reserved for the holidays and shared with large groups. While the name and shape maybe unique to Yemen, Samboosas are a Yemeni version of eggrolls. The following recipe is my favorite.


Samboosa Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon (broth)
  • 1 tsp. cumin 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste 1 tsp red pepper paste
  • 1 cup peeled and diced potato 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped Tortillas or Egg Roll Wrappers


Samboosas Cooking Directions:



Heat the oil in a large sauce pan, add the onion and sauté until golden brown on medium high. Add the ground beef, then with a wooden spoon break down the ground beef and cook until there is no pink left. Add the minced garlic, all the spices, as well as the tomato paste and red pepper paste. Stir and allow cooking for 2 minute.


Then add the potatoes, stir, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and allow cooking for 5 minutes.  Add the parsley, cook for 1 minute and turn off heat. Let the mixture cool.


If using tortillas, heat the tortillas in a microwave for 30 seconds or until warm. This will make the tortillas pliable. Cut each tortilla or egg roll wrapper in 2 to 3 long strips (2 inch wide). Place some of the filling on one end. Using a flour-water paste to wet edges, fold diagonally repeatedly until you form a triangular roll.


Pour oil in vegetable pan, 1/2 inch deep. The heat should be on medium high. Place enough samboosas to fill the pan and fry until brown, flip and fry on other side. Place samboosas on a paper towel to drain.  Serve hot.



Samboosas are very versatile. You can add all types of meats, vegetables, and spices that would be more geared towards one’s own personal palate.




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