Samsa for impatient people

Samsa for impatient people

These are not the samsa you get at the bazaar from the clay oven, but they are just as tasty and offer a few benefits:

  • You don’t need a clay oven
  • You don’t need to wait for dough to proof
  • They are much faster and easier to make
  • The dough type opens up a broader range of compatible fillings – like potatoes or fruit.

I’ve always loved the doughy goodness of vereniki, oromo, lyapyoshki, samsa (the list goes on), but I never really had the patience to make it. I’ve always left that to my Russian mother-in-law or some other ambitious baker. So, when my mother-in-law also started taking shortcuts like using puff pastry for samsa and using a pastry press for vereniki, I admit I felt a lot less guilty for my impatience.

The filling is simple, using ingredients usually on hand and just a ½ pound of ground meat (preferably lamb) or 2 cups of shredded pumpkin. You can also do season 2 cups of diced potatoes similar to the meat. Or, if you have less on hand, make a couple of each. Plus, you can adjust the seasoning or add-ins to your taste. See how flexible? The key to the Kyrgyz flavor is freshly crushed dried cumin seeds.

To make this recipe even easier, you can use ready-made fillings. It takes away the Kyrgyz flavors, but samsa exists in so many cultures. Experimentation can be a trip around the world. Thick packaged curry, like bhindi masala would be a go-to for me, or aloo matar. Any leftover vegetables with some cheese help when you are trying to clean out your fridge. Apple pie filling makes for a great dessert with ice cream.

I hope you try out this recipe and enjoy the speed, ease, and flexibility! Experiment with fillings and share your experience. #MakeItYourself #FOKGZ

Recipe for Easy Samsa

Makes 12 samsa

Bake at 380 degrees for 25 minutes.

Meat filling (for 12)f

  • 1/2 pound ground meat
  • 1/4 c diced onions
  • 1/3 c finely diced raw potato
  • 1 clove crushed/minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds (put them between parchment, paper, or foil and roll over them with a rolling pin)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Pumpkin filling (for 12)

  • 2 c shredded pumpkin (butternut squash will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 c diced onions
  • 1 clove crushed/minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp crushed cumin seeds
  • Sugar (depending on the natural flavor and sweetness of the pumpkin and your taste)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Potato filling (for 12)

  • 2 c diced raw potato
  • 1/4 c diced onions
  • 1 clove crushed/minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds (put them between parchment, paper, or foil and roll over them with a rolling pin)
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • 1 pkg (1lb) puff pastry dough
  • Flour
  • 1-2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 egg, beaten


Preheat oven to 380 degrees

Cover a cookie sheet or pizza stone with parchment paper or tinfoil

Oil parchment paper or tinfoil, using a pastry brush or a paper towel dipped in the oil

Prepare the filling in advance of starting to work with the dough

Sprinkle flour onto a clean work surface

Open the puff pastry dough and flour both sides

Cut the dough in half, parallel to the longer side

Cut each of those halves into 6 ‘bars’, cutting parallel to the short side – each will be about 1’ x 1’ x 3’

Turn them onto the cut side, pinch them together from each of the smaller ends (like an accordion)

Press them down a bit with your fingers

Roll each out to a square(ish) a bit bigger than your palm (not too thin or it will break open when baking, but thin enough that you can pull the edges together over the filling)

Fill each with about 2 tablespoons of filling

Gather the dough from the left and the right (like a paper fan) to the middle over the filling and seal together like a little purse (Make sure to seal it well so the filling does not leak and burn onto the pan)

Place the samsa, sealed side down, onto the oiled pan

Using the pastry brush or folded paper towel, baste all exposed sides of the samsa with the beaten egg

Bake at 380 for 25 minutes – checking toward the end so that they don’t get over browned

Allow to cool for a minute before removing from the pan

Video lesson

Tracy Riggan

Tracy Riggan

During her two years of teaching middle and high school English at School#1 in Kyzyl-Kiya, Tracy worked to draw community attention to environmental issues. Following Peace Corps, Tracy remained in Kyzyl-Kiya, working for a foreign company making significant investments in the region, welcoming customers to the region with Kyrgyz hospitality, and helping ex-pat employees navigate the local culture. Tracy returned to the US in 1999 and now works in Business Development with IPC, a not for profit trade association for the electronics industry.

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