Sanbuseh – Savoury turnovers


Ok … Summer is here and the festive season is upon us and that means outdoor activities.  We will have gatherings to host and requests to ‘just bring a plate’.  Finger food is the go.

Instead of making meat pies, sausage rolls and mini quiches, how about making some Sanbuseh?  They are just as easy to make but taste and look just that little bit different.  I have already served them twice this season and they have been a hit both times.  Best of all, they are dead easy to make.  They use commercial puff pastry and the filling ingredients are all in together.  They can be served straight from the oven or at room temperature.  How easy is that?

The recipe is from my current favourite book (notwithstanding Rhubarb Khoresh) , Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij.

It is hard to say how many you will make. The recipe says to put two heaped teaspoons of filling in each pastry and that you will make 25.  I put the two heaped teaspoons in but made many more.  I can only suggest you buy a large packet of frozen puff pastry (10 sheets) and freeze what you don’t use.  I think we got 4 rounds to one sheet.

Because you are cutting the pastry into rounds, you will have lots of off-cuts.  I know puff pastry should not be re-rolled but I did because it was just too much to waste.   I made mini jam tarts out of it.  They looked a bit misshapen  –  some bits rose and other bits didn’t –  but they tasted fine and we ate the lot.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and when the only sweet thing in the house is a misshapen mini jam tart in the freezer, they sure look good.

Safavid pistachio and lamb filling


  • 1 tbs* oil, butter or ghee
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 450g lamb mince
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp sea salt (use less if using table salt or cooking salt)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup (85g)** ground pistachios
  • 1 cup (85g)** mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 cups (170g)** parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup (85g)** tarragon, chopped


  • Ready made frozen puff pastry

Egg wash

  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbs* milk

Safavid Dusting

  • 2 tbs* icing sugar
  • ½ tsp dried ground rose petals
  • 2 tbs* ground pistachios

*These are 15 mil tablespoons

** These are the metric equivalents given in the book.  I didn’t check them –  I just went with the cup measures.  I know a US cup is slightly smaller than our 250mil cup but the difference is small and, in a recipe like this, it is not worth worrying about.


  1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and sweat onions until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and meat, cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and sauté over medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes until the filling is completely dry.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  5. Heat your oven to 180°C.  Line your baking trays with baking paper.
  6. The instructions for shaping the pastries were to cut the pastry into 7.5cm circles using a scone cutter.  Put two heaped teaspoons of filling on one side of the circle. Fold each circle in half and seal.  Fold over the edges using your fingers and pinch to double seal.
    But I have one of these guys (a tortellini maker) which makes shaping the pastries so easy.  They only cost a couple of dollars – you’ve gotta get one.  You use the base to cut out a circle of pastry which fits perfectly into the mould.  Fill with two heaped teaspoons of filling, wet the edge with water and then close.  Voila!  Perfect little pastries.
  7. Transfer to your lined baking tray.  Paint them with the egg wash and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Just before serving, dust with the Safavid dusting (icing sugar, rose petals and ground pistachios).  Don’t skip this bit.  They look really cool and it just adds that special touch.

11 thoughts on “Sanbuseh – Savoury turnovers

  1. Happy 2018…I did of course take as finger food to our street party…sausage rolls…funny but three other people did too…so I should have read this new recipe before Christmas not after…best wishes, Alyson


  2. So will we see your own recipe book in 2018??? Put it on your bucket list. Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2018 to you both.

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