A Syrian Treat for Shavuot

editor Saturday 19 May 2018 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share by email Printer friendly

By Joan Nathan.. Tired of cheesecake and blintzes? Make cheese-filled sambusak your new holiday recipe. Shavuot, a holiday where dairy meals are traditionally served at Jewish homes throughout the world, commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. [Photo top right: Syrian cheese sambusak | Photo credit: Justin Covington].  It falls 50 days after the planting of wheat on the second day of Passover; with crops, as well as wild greens and grass, appearing throughout March, April, and May, more food was available for goats and sheep to eat in the hot, dry Middle East by the time Shavuot came around. If the animals had more to eat, they produced more milk and thus, this became the holiday of cheese, cheesecakes, and cheese-filled pastries.

The custom spread throughout the world: In Russia, there are cheese blintzes; in Turkey, cheese burek; in the United States, cheesecakes; and in countries like Iraq and Syria, sambusak. Coming from the words sanbosag and sanbusa in Persian, the word itself means triangular, like a pocket pastry. Referred to as sanbusaksanbusaz, or sanbusaj in Arabic cookbooks from the 10th to the 13th centuries, these savory pastries go way back in the Iraqi Jewish communities that eventually spread to Syria and India. Read the full story and watch the video.



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