Samsa/somsa/samosa/sambosa/samboosa/sambusa/etc. is one of the classical Uzbek/Central Asian dishes that has as many versions of preparation as there are ways of spelling its name.
You can have it in all different shapes, be it triangles, rectangles, squares, or circles; and with various fillings from beef to lamb to chicken to pumpkin and various greens, such as spinach, nettle, dandelion, etc., etc.
The dough is also different, depending on the region and the method of preparation and can vary from the very basic water, salt and flour to fancier puff pastry-type dough with egg and butter to make the hundreds of layers.
Within Uzbekistan alone, there are tens of variations of samsa and, just like with all other traditional dishes, each province takes pride in its own version, firmly believing that theirs is the most authentic and the most delicious kind. People take it very seriously and even the pronunciation of the name that they believe is wrong can offend some of the masters. I would prefer not to obsess with these kinds of irrelevant arguments.
As you walk across the food courts of Tashkent's famous Chorsu Bazaar (Zhorniy ryad), you will be offered oven-cooked samsa made with puff pastry. The merchants will be sure to break one open in front of you to demonstrate the amount of meat (and lamb FAT) inside!
In Bukhara, they make very special Gijduvon-style samsa with a slice of tomato, which adds a nice sour bite, especially important for hot summer days.
In Jizzakh, you will be served samsa the size of your head and you will have to eat it like a soup bowl.
In Namangan, traditional samsa is small and is cooked strictly in the clay oven 'tandyr'. Sometimes, you can get your hands, or rather your lips, on the special samsa made with ribs, oh, that one is my favourite. In the Spring, samsa comes with a special mix of greens; this one is considered a healthy breakfast version and you need to get to the local masters early in the morning, otherwise, it's sold out by 8 am.
Samsa master in Namangan
Samsa magically stuck to the walls of tandyr clay oven. The difference in shapes means the difference in filling. The hot walls insure that flatbread and meat pockets stick and cook evenly.
Breakfast samsa made with Spring greens
These delicious meat pockets are well-known across continents and tracing the origin is rather difficult, though it is believed that samsa was invented somewhere in Central Asia and the Middle East.
If you are in the region, you are in luck, you can sample the wide variety of samsa made by true masters. But, if you want to try and make some to treat yourself or your loved ones, chances are you will need to use your regular oven. Should the absence of tandyr stop you from making this amazing treat? Of course not! Here is a simple recipe to try.
The dough: flour, salt, water. To make the layers, use butter and work the dough as shown in the video. If you want to buy the ready-to-use puff pastry, go for it!
The filling: good beef, onions, salt, cumin, black pepper. Use any alternative you would like and don't listen to anyone.
Wrap, apply egg wash and bake for 40-45 minutes on 180C. Enjoy!