Good Luck in a Dough Pocket

October 7, 2019 • Nancy Wolfson-Moche
Hoppin’ John, Texas caviar, goat pea and California black-eye are a few names for the humble legume we know as the black-eyed pea. From Israel to Guyana to Tobago, they are prepared every which way and eaten on New Year’s day as a harbinger of good luck and prosperity. Sambousek is essentially a meal in a dough pocket; the Iraqi riff on the Turkish boureka, the Mexican empanada or the Italian calzone: every traditional culture has its equivalent.  Sambousek is usually filled with a spicy mashed chickpea mix, cheese or sweet and spicy mashed pumpkin. Here, I added a spicy black-eyed pea filling to bring spicy good fortune on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). Make a big batch and freeze them; heat ‘em and serve ‘em up for breakfast, with pickles or greens on the side.
  • INgredients for the dough
  • 4 cups unbleached white or spelt flour  
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 Tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 3-4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Black-eyed pea cooking water as needed (approx 1-2 cups)
    • for the filling
  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas
  • 3 large yellow onions
  • 3 Tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 heaping teaspoon curry powder
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • about 8 Tablespoons grape seed or safflower oil for frying                                                                                                                      
Process Make the dough Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium to large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and the black-eyed pea water, until the dough is soft, moist, malleable and elastic. Knead into a malleable dough.  1 teaspoon at a time, add some more water if needed. Cover with a damp cloth and leave for about a half-hour in a warm part of the kitchen. Make the filling Soak the black eyed peas in water for 2-6 hours.  Drain them and place them in a pot with a postage-stamp-sized piece of kelp (seaweed) and boil for about 1 hour, or until soft. Allow to cool and drain them, reserving the cooking water for the dough (above). Mash the black eyed peas coarsely with a potato masher, wooden spoon or in a blender. Chop the onions into small pieces. Heat a large skillet for about 30 seconds on a medium flame. Add the olive oil and then the onions.  Use cooking chopsticks to sauté them until they become a golden brown.  Add a few pinches of sea salt.  Reduce the the heat and stir in the black eyed pea paste. Add the curry powder and cumin. Mix all ingredients well.  Adjust spices to taste. Set aside to cool.
Make the sambousek Preheat the oven to 350F. Knead the dough for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface. Take a small portion at a time and roll it out with a rolling pin. The dough should be thin, about one-eighth inch thick. Use a small bowl or large drinking glass to cut out as many circular shapes as you can.
Gently gather up the leftover dough and set aside in a covered bowl. Place a tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each circle.
To insure that the dough doesn’t open up when baking, with the tip of your finger dab some water on one side. Fold over the other side to make a half circle (crescent).
Pinch and press down the edges firmly, twist the edges to be sure the pillow is closed firmly. Gently press the prongs of a fork into the edges for a decorative motif.
Repeat until the dough and filling have been used.
Fry in grape seed or safflower oil, flipping each one so it browns on both sides. The dough should be golden brown. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Serve with pickles or fresh greens.
If you have some dough left it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen, as long as you wrap it in foil or plastic. You can safely mix it later with a new batch of dough.
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