These chicken sambosa are delicious! They are stuffed with a chicken musakhan filling, which is sumac spiced chicken with lots of caramelized onions. It’s a way of making a very traditional and time consuming Palestinian dish much more accessible.
What are sambosa?
Sambosa are fried or baked pastries, usually filled with a savory filling that are folded into triangle or half moon shapes. They are very commonly consumed in the Middle East and Central Asia. They are an appetizer, sort of like spring rolls. Sambosa are addictive and very customizable!
Sambosa are enjoyed year round but are especially prevalent in Ramadan, the month long fast that Muslims undertake every year. It’s traditional to break your fast with dates, then sambosa and soup.
What are sambosa commonly filled with?
In the Middle East, the most common fillings are probably meat or cheese sambosa, but potato/vegetarian, and chicken sambosas are also very popular. Everyone has their own way of making sambosa and probably a family recipe that dates back!
What is chicken musakhan?
I filled these sambosas with a chicken musakhan mix. This is a great twist on a classic! Chicken musakhan is a traditional Palestinian dish of roast chicken with plenty of caramelized onions, sumac, and toasted nuts. Using chicken musakhan to stuff sambosas with is game changing! I probably like these more than actual chicken musakhan.
Why should you try this recipe:
The crunch from the sambosas elevates the chicken mix so much.
The sambosa are like chicken musakhan made much more easily and in a portable form. Win win! They are an amazing way to set the tone to a great meal, and can even be a light lunch in their own right, especially served with yogurt to dip with. A must try for Ramadan!
The sambosa freeze so well (see freezing instructions below) so they are a great make ahead thing to start Ramadan prep or just to have something in your freezer.
What ingredients do you need to make chicken sambosa:
Sambosa Wrappers: You can usually find these in the chilled or frozen section of a supermarket. If you can’t find these where you live, you can definitely use wonton wrappers or spring roll wrappers to stuff the mixture in. The filling is so yum, you could even do tiny little tortilla or pita bread wraps!
Cooked Chicken Breasts: If you’ve tried other chicken recipes on this site, you probably have heard me say this before but I always prefer using chicken breast. In this case, the cooked chicken is very finely shredded and mixed with lots of onions, so it’ll be tender and juicy regardless.
You can use leftover chicken that you have, or rotisserie chicken you bought, or cook a couple of chicken breasts for this recipe.
Cooking the chicken breasts:
To cook chicken breasts: Cover them with water in a saucepan, and add a halved onion, a couple bay leaves, a stick of cinnamon and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam that accumulates, then reduce heat and simmer vigorously for 20-25 minutes until chicken is opaque and fully cooked through.
Olive oil: A good splash of olive oil to coat the saucepan you’ll cook the onions in so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and to carry a lot of flavor.
Onions: I used yellow onions, but use whatever type you prefer. Slice the onions very thinly so they aren’t too much of a mouthful in the sambosa.
Toasted nuts: This is optional, but to me, musakhan isn’t complete without toasted nuts on top. You can use almond slivers or pine nuts. Just heat a small skillet over medium heat, add a splash of olive oil and add the nuts, stirring frequently until golden brown. Once cooked, remove immediately to a small bowl so they don’t burn in the hot pan.
Sumac: This is what gives musakhan so much of its flavor. Sumac is a spice made from the dried and ground berries of the wild sumac flower. It has a characteristic vibrant deep red color, and tangy sour flavor.
Sumac is very commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking, and has such an interesting citrus-y flavor. We use plenty in this, so don’t worry about the amount listed it truly works to fully develop the flavor of the chicken sambosa filling.
Cumin powder, cinnamon powder, salt, and black pepper: the remaining spices that round out our filling.
How to make the sambosas:
Once you have your chicken cooked and the rest of the ingredients assembled, the process is easy!
In a large deep skillet, add the olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Add the onions, and stir occasionally until they soften and start to turn golden brown. This will probably take a good 8-10 minutes.
Once the onions are ready, add the shredded chicken (I just let the chicken cool and use my fingers to shred it apart), the toasted nuts if using, and all the spices. Stir to combine, and let the mixture cool a little before filling the sambosa.
How to fill and fold sambosa:
Lay out the sambosa wrapper flat. Place a heaped tbsp of filling in the bottom corner of the wrapper. Fold the sambosa wrapper up and over the filling in a triangle shape to the opposite side of the wrapper. Tuck in the filling to seal before flipping the wrapper again, up and over in another triangle shape. Keep flipping up, making triangles each time until you get to the top of the wrapper.
Mix together the flour and water to form a glue, and use some under the edge flap of the sambosa, then tuck it in to the wrapped sambosa, pressing down to seal. The flour/water will act as glue so that the sambosa don’t come apart when frying.
You can see all these steps in the video attached to the recipe card!
How to cook sambosa:
Traditionally, sambosa are fried in a few inches of vegetable oil to get them golden brown and crispy. I do find that this is the tastiest way to have them, but just to make them a little healthier, I’ll often oven bake them.
To oven bake sambosas: Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and drizzle lightly with vegetable oil, toss to coat well. Bake at 375 F (190C) for about 10 minutes a side or until golden brown and crunchy.
To air fry sambosas: Lightly brush the sambosa with oil, and preheat air fryer for 5 minutes. Cook 5-6 sambosas at a time for 18-20 minutes , flipping halfway in between until golden brown.
What to serve sambosa with:
I like a simple yogurt sauce, dusted with dried mint or plain. It’s great to dip the sambosa in!
Storing leftover sambosa:
Sambosa are best enjoyed fresh, but can be stored tightly covered in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat in the microwave or a hot oven.
You can, and probably should, make a freezer batch of sambosas. Sambosa freeze exceptionally well, and that’s actually the common practice, to fry just enough as needed and store the rest of the uncooked sambosa in the freezer. You don’t need to thaw them before cooking, just a few minutes at room temperature while oil/oven/air fryer heats is more than enough.
Freeze sambosas on a single layer on a tray first until hard, then place them in a freezer safe bag so they don’t stick to each other. Sambosas can be frozen for 4-6 months.
If you liked this recipe, you might like:
- 2 chicken breasts, cooked and finely shredded about 1 heaped cup of shredded chicken See notes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 large onions cut in half, then thinly sliced into wedges
- 1/4 cup toasted almond slivers or pine nuts
- 3 tbsp sumac
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 pack sambosa wrappers 500 g
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/2 tbsp water
- vegetable oil, about 1/4 cup
- In a deep skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil until it heats up. Add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently until soft and starting to caramelize, 8-10 minutes.
- Add the shredded chicken, the toasted nuts, and all the spices. Stir to combine, then remove from the heat. Let mixture cool slightly 5 minutes or so.
- Fill each sambosa wrapper with a tbsp of mixture on the bottom corner, then fold the corner of the sambosa up and over the filling to the other side, to make a triangle. Keep folding this triangle over all the way up the top (check the video at the bottom of this recipe card to see how). Mix together the flour and water to form a thick paste, and seal the ends of the sambosa to prevent them from opening up while frying.
- Place vegetable oil in a skillet, about 2 inches deep and heat on medium high heat. Once hot enough, add the sambosa and fry for around 2 minutes a side until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to absorb some of the excess oil, then enjoy warm, optionally with yogurt to dip in.