For Khalida Faizi, 33, sambusas are more than just a popular street food in Afghanistan. After living for 7 years in the United States, she has embraced the dish as a potent reminder of happier times in her native country. 

“Whenever I cook, I remember my school days and also my classmates,” she says. “The memories are both good and bad. The bad memories are because, now in Afghanistan, girls are allowed to go to school only to the sixth grade, and older girls are not allowed to go to school at all.” 

Khalida grew up at a time when schools for girls were re-opening and she would bring sambusas to celebratory gatherings. I would prepare them and take them to school, where all my classmates would praise my delicious cooking and give me compliments,” she says, smiling as she remembers. “This way, I was appreciated and encouraged even more.

In fact, it was on her way to school where Khalida first learned how to make sambusas. Her teacher was a street vendor. Khalida watched her prepare the sambusas and fry them until she memorized the method. Over 20 years later, Khalida continues to make sambusas the same way.

“I feel a lot happier while cooking, because it rekindles my past years and my memories,” she says. “It is as if I haven't grown up; I feel the same energy I had when I was younger.”

Below is the sambusa recipe Khalida learned on her way to school. Enjoy!



1 cup flour

3 tbsp oil 

Pinch of Ajwain


1/2 cup water

Veggie filling:

6 Boiled potatoes

Chili powder (1 tablespoon)

Garam masala (optional), salt and pepper to taste 

Meat filling:

2 onions, chopped 

10 oz ground meat

Fresh garlic, minced (2 cloves)

Chili powder, fresh coriander, salt and pepper to taste 


Fresh coriander (2 tablespoons)

Fresh garlic, minced (2 cloves)

Fresh lemon (or vinegar), salt and pepper to taste  


  1. To make the sambusa dough, mix dry ingredients together, then slowly add 1/2- 3/4 cup of water until the mixture forms a soft dough
  2. Boil your potatoes, then mash with seasonings. Let cool
  3. Finely chop 1 onion, cook until caramelized. Add the ground meat and cook until it turns brown. Stir in seasonings and add one more finely chopped onion. Let cool
  4. Roll dough flat and cut it into 2-inch circles.
  5. Fill each circle with potato or meat mixtures, fold and seal tight using a bit of water. 
  6. Fry for 4-5 minutes until golden brown
  7. In a blender, mix ingredients for the chutney, add lemon or vinegar.
  8. Serve sambusas on a warm plate with chutney on the side.