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Sep 14 14

Shawarma and Walnut Crusted Lamb Cutlets with Pan-Roasted Tomatoes, Baby Rocket and Spinach Salad

by Samis Kitchen
Shawarma and Walnut Crusted Lamb Cutlets

Recipe by Amina El Shafei -


  • 12 lamb cutlets, fat trimmed
  • 1tbs Sami’s Kitchen Shawarma spice blend
  • 80gm unroasted walnuts
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Olive oil
  • 4 lemon wedges

Ingredients for Salad

  • 1 punnet grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 50gm baby spinach leaves
  • 50gm baby rocket leaves
  • 2tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tbs lemon juice
  • Salt to season

Using a food processor or a knife, process or chop walnuts into small coarse pieces. In a shallow bowl, add walnuts, Shawarma spice blend and salt. Prepare a tray.

Press one side of a lamb cutlet firmly onto the nut and spice mixture and repeat the other side. Gently tap the cutlet to remove any excess nuts or spice and place on the tray. Repeat process until all crusted. Set aside in the fridge for an hour to help lamb marinate and crust to set.

Preheat oven to 200°. On a non-stick fry pan, coat lightly with olive oil and set to medium heat. When hot, place cutlets on one side and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Once all are cooked, place onto a tray and into the oven for a further 3-4 minutes until cooked.

Whilst in the oven, heat extra virgin olive oil in a nonstick fry pan on high heat. When hot, add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes ensuring to turn the tomatoes constantly. Remove from heat once tomatoes blister and set aside in bowl. When slightly cooled, add baby spinach and rocket, lemon juice and salt to taste.

Serve lamb hot with salad and lemon wedges.

Jul 14 14

Beef & Pine Nut “Alliyeh”

by Samis Kitchen

This is a delicious and simple filling that can be used in so many ways!
Wrap with pastry to make a traditional Samboussik.
Place between layers of mince to make a Kebbeh tray.
Use as a topping for a Hummus Dip, to turn a simple dip into a spectacular entree.


  • 500g Beef Mince
  • 5 Onions (medium size) finely chopped
  • 50g Pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Sami’s Kitchen Shawarma Spices
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt to taste


Place the oil into a pan and heat.
Add the pine nuts and cook until coloured.
Then add the onions and cook until lightly coloured.
Finally, add the mince, cook until browned ensuring it is mixed well with the onion and pine nuts.
Season with Salt, Paprika and the Shawarma Spice.

Jul 7 14

July Newsletter

by Samis Kitchen
Spicy Kofta with Tomato and Toasted Almonds

Jul 2 14

Spicy Kofta with Tomato and Toasted Almonds

by Samis Kitchen

Spicy Kofta with Tomato and Toasted Almonds

Recipe by Yasmeen Hilmi

Serves 4 with bread, rice or quinoa on the side

3 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, diced
500g lean beef or lamb mince
2 tbsp + 1 tsp Sami’s Kitchen Kofta Spice mix
2 cloves garlic, minced,
400g diced tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 cup fresh parsley, rinsed and roughly chopped


In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté half of the diced onions until very soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for a moment.Place the cooled onions in a mixing bowl with the beef or lamb mince and 2 tbsp of Sami’s Kitchen Kofta Spice mix. Using clean hands, gently combine the onions, meat and spices until very well mixed. Pinch rounded tablespoon-sized bits of meat from the mixing bowl, and roll between your palms into meatballs. Continue until all of the meat is used.

In the same saucepan used to cook the onions, heat another tbsp of the oil over medium heat. Fry the kofta until they’re lovely and golden on all sides, about 7-8 minutes (the more golden they are, the more flavourful!). Do this in two batches if necessary, to avoid crowding the pan. Remove the kofta with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the last tablespoon of oil to the pan, with the remaining diced onions and minced garlic. Saute the onions and garlic 2-3 minutes until they start to soften. Pour in the diced tomatoes, chicken stock and the extra teaspoon of Kofta Spice, and let simmer 10 minutes.

Add the kofta to the sauce. Partially cover the pan, and continue simmering over low heat for 30 minutes, until the kofta is completely cooked and the sauce has thickened.

Transfer the kofta to a serving dish. Sprinkle with the toasted nuts and fresh parsley, and serve immediately with plenty of Arabic bread, rice or quinoa.

Dec 31 12

Takeaway closes after two decades

by Samis Kitchen

WINDMILL FAVOURITES: Sonia and Sami Bejjani are retiring after two decades.

Heart scare leads to closure after 21 years 

A health scare has convinced the owners of a popular Lebanese takeaway to shut its Christchurch premises.

Sami and Sonia Bejjani spent more than two decades behind the counter at Sami’s Lebanese & Middle Eastern Cuisine in Riccarton’s Windmill Centre until retiring at Christmas.

The couple started the business soon after emigrating to Christchurch with three children in 1989, having been unable to find work in their professions and not wanting handouts from their adopted homeland.

Sonia Bejjani said it was her husband’s heart scare this year that convinced them to retire.

He had three stents inserted into his chest to open blockages in four arteries.

“He was very lucky he didn’t have a heart attack. Two days [after surgery] he was back on his feet, but we thought it was a sign we had to stop,” she said.

“We are both at retirement age, Sami and I, so it’s time to just slow down.”

The news was a blow to their customers, some of whom had been regulars since the takeaway opened.

“We didn’t know we were so appreciated to that extent until the last two weeks when we put up the notice that we were finishing on the 23rd [of December]. It was overwhelming.”

On the final night, orders stopped about 7.30pm when food ran out, despite more than three times the usual preparation.

They started the takeaway at time when international cuisine was not the staple it is now.

Sonia Bejjani had worked as an executive secretary in the banking industry and Sami Bejjani in information technology sales, but neither could find work in Christchurch despite both speaking three languages.

They turned to what Sonia Bejjani knew best – cooking.

“It took off with word of mouth and we just started growing our loyal customers from there,” she said.

“You can’t believe the love they have for our food and us. It’s very sad.”

The couple will continue to sell their food products online through the Sami’s Kitchen website, which started three years ago. Sonia Bejjani also plans to write a cookbook.

The Press (Marc Greenhill – 28/12/2012)

Apr 12 12

Falafel Spiced, Warm Chickpea Salad

by Samis Kitchen

Here’s a beautiful recipe from our good friend Christie Connelly at Fig and Cherry. We love Christie’s de-constructed and super-healthy take on this simple yet delicious recipe, which everyone can make at home in absolutely no time.

Serves 4 as a side or part of a mezze selection


  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 spring onion (scallion), finely sliced
  • 1 fat garlic clove, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Samis Kitchen falafel spice blend
  • 4 sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • pinch of salt


  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons labne (or thick greek-style yoghurt)
  • 1 teaspoon Samis Kitchen falafel spice blend
  • 1/2 small lemon, juiced


  1. Saute the spring onion and garlic in the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant and slightly softened.
  2. Add the spice mix and chickpeas, stir to coat well and cook for 2 minutes until warmed through. Add the parsley and a pinch of salt. Cook for 1 minute more and then set aside and keep warm.
  3. To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the salad with a dollop of dressing and some warm pita bread or as part of a mezze selection. It is also lovely served with grilled chicken that has been marinated in Samis Kitchen shish tawook spice mix.

Feb 19 12

Chicky Hampshire

by Samis Kitchen

Chicky Hampshire is an established caterer in Sydney servicing cooking for both the Corporate and private sectors as well as running customised cooking classes in the comfort of your own home.

Feb 10 12

Middle Eastern Chickpea Puree Or Hummus

by Samis Kitchen

Recipe by Chicky Hampshire Catering


  • 1 cup of good quality chickpeas [soaked overnight in twice the water volume and a pinch of baking soda]
  • N.B If time does not allow to soak, use a good quality tin of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 TB of Tahini [sesame paste]
  • 2 tsp roasted cumin seeds [roast in a fry pan until fragrant]
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste with a little salt
  • 4 Tb lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 200mls of Olive oil
  • N.B fresh chili can also be added to taste


Place the soaked chickpeas in a large pot and fill with fresh water, cook for about 45-60 mins until they are tender. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid.

Place chickpeas, cumin seeds, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid in a food processor. Add 100mls of the olive and process, for a minute. Then add extra olive oil and cooking liquid to this mixture to get a smooth consistency.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Feb 10 12

Shish Tawook Marinated Grilled Prawns With Hummus And A Fennel, Watercress And Parsley Salad [Serves 4]

by Samis Kitchen

Recipe by Chicky Hampshire Catering

Swish Tawook Marinated Prawns Recipe


  • 4-5 medium to large green prawn per person [peeled]


  • 1/2 bunch of continental parsley and ½ bunch of coriander
  • 2 Tablespoons of ‘Sami’s Kitchen’ Shish Tawook spice blend
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2cm piece of ginger, chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 80 ml olive oil
  • Salad Ingredients
  • 1/2 small head of fennel, shaved very finely
  • 1/2 bunch continental [flat leaf] parsley, leaves picked
  • 1/2 bunch of watercress, leaves picked and washed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 100mls extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt flakes and fresh ground pepper


In a food processor or mortar and pestle, pulse all the marinade ingredients together until they are smooth.

Coat the prawns in the marinade and let them sit for 15 mins. [Be careful not to marinate for too long as the lemon juice will make the prawns a strange texture]

Heat a BBQ grill plate or large fry pan [preferably non stick] and add just enough olive oil to cover the surface.

When the grill or pan is hot add prawns. They must sizzle when they touch the pan otherwise the surface is not hot enough! N.B do not over crowd the pan as it will cool the pan down too much. Season prawns with salt and pepper.

Turn heat to medium high and fry prawns for 2-3 mins depending on the size of the prawns… Turn over and cook for another 2-3 mins on the other side. [Do not overcook the prawns as all seafood keeps cooking for a few more minutes once it has been taken off the heat]

Toss all the salad ingredients together and coat with the lemon juice, EVO and salt and pepper.

To serve put a good tablespoon of hummus on the serving plate, place the grilled prawns on the hummus and then a nice handful of the salad on the top of the prawns. You can drizzle with a little more of the lemon dressing if desired.

Oct 8 11

Shish Barak

by Samis Kitchen

Recipe by John Bek @

This recipe does not use Sami’s Kitchen products but is a beautiful Middle Eastern dish worth sharing…
Makes about 34 dumplings and serves 4-6

Ingredients – General:
250 g plain flour
1 tsp salt
60 g clarified butter, melted
40 g clarified butter, extra, for serving
2 cloves garlic, finely grated, for serving
1 tbsp mint leaves, chopped

Ingredients – Filling:
20 g clarified butter, to brush
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts
250 g lamb mince
1 tsp ground allspice (pimento)

Ingredients – Yoghurt sauce:
3 cups natural yoghurt
2 tsp cornflour
1 egg white, lightly beaten

1- For the dough, place flour and 1 tsp salt into a mixing bowl and add ¾ cup water a little at a time, combining until the mixture forms a dough. Cover with plastic and allow to sit for ½ hour.
2- For the filling, melt the clarified butter in a frying pan and cook the onion over medium heat until soft. Add the pine nuts and allow them to brown, stirring constantly. Increase the heat to high and add the mince and allspice, stirring until the mince browns. Season to taste and allow to cool.
3- Preheat oven 190°C and lightly grease a baking tray.
4- Roll the dough on a floured surface to about 4 mm and cut into 6 cm rounds using a drinking glass or cutter. Place a teaspoon of the meat mixture into the centre of each round, fold the round in half to form a crescent, pressing the edges together to seal. Wrap the crescent around one finger to form a hat (tortellini) shape and press the ends together.
5- Arrange on the baking tray, brush lightly with clarified butter and bake for 10-15 minutes.
6- Place the yoghurt in a large saucepan. Combine the cornflour with 1½ cups water and stir until smooth, then add it to the yoghurt with the egg white and 2 tsp salt. Cook the yoghurt mixture over medium heat until it thickens, stirring constantly.
7- Add the dumplings to the yoghurt, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not boil the sauce.
8- Prior to serving, melt the 40 g clarified butter in a small pan and fry the grated garlic gently. Add the chopped mint and remove from the heat.
9- To serve, arrange the dumplngs on individual plates and drizzle over the yoghurt sauce. Pour the butter over the dumplings and serve with cooked rice.