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Tea-Time Sambosas

These sambosas remind me of my grandmother. They are delicious savory pastries prepared with pastry sheets, stuffed with ground beef, but are topped with that wonderful surprise garnish: powdered sugar and pistachio. My mom says my grandmother used to prepare these for afternoon tea in Afghanistan. It reminds me of a time way back, in a country long gone where people would stop at 3 in the afternoon for “tea time”. The combination of sambosas with powdered sugar may sounds strange, but the taste is delicate as the sweetness of the sugar complements the buttery savory dough and oddly lightens the ground beef. These sambosas remind me of Afghan women during my grandmother’s generation with their hair in big puffy styles and short pencil skirts, their lives revolved around being the perfect hostess. But these women have been overlooked and forgotten with the images of women in Afghanistan seen on television. To this day my grandmother is a classy lady, she refuses to wear boots or heavy coats, she likes her nails painted a pale pink color, and prefers her skirts to fall at the knees and no longer. She makes herself neat and pretty every day, arranging her chiffon scarf carefully over her graying reddish brown hair. Sometimes when I stare at her pictures I find her youth, I can see why my grandfather was in love with her and married her at such a young age. Her skin is still porcelain white, and she remains the only Afghan woman I have ever met with auburn colored hair. Cooking comes from my grandmother, her family was known to cook phenomenal food, and no matter how good my mom can cook she says that the talent is all from my grandmother. I can imagine the women during my grandmother’s time sitting in a big formal dining room somewhere in the afternoon time taking a break from the day with their legs crossed, delicately eating these savory samosas holding fancy tea cups filled with tea sweetened with tiny sugar cubes. Sambosas here are reserved for dinner, or breakfast as we don’t have “tea time” in America or really anywhere in the modern world, but sprinkling some sweet powdered pistachio sugar on a samosa takes me back to a time that is long forgotten.


1 package of pastry sheet defrosted (I prefer the Turkish brand Merve Pastry Sheets)
1 lb. of ground beef
1 large onion chopped
Salt and Pepper (for seasoning)
Sumac (optional)

1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups pistachio

1-) First cook the ground beef in a skillet, make sure to finely mince the ground beef with your spatula so its grounded and doesn’t cook as clumpy chunks of meat. Cook the ground beef about half an hour on medium heat stirring frequently. Halfway through cooking the ground beef add the chopped onions and let that cook with the ground beef.

2-) Once ground beef is cooked place the ground beef and onion mixture in a strainer to get out all the excess oil. Press the meat with the back of a spoon to make sure the mixture is dry from any extra oil, as you don’t want the inside of the samosa to be runny with oil.

3-) Mix the ground beef and onion mixture with about half a teaspoon of salt, two or three tablespoons of black pepper, a pinch of cumin, and if you want a tart flavor a teaspoon of sumac. Black pepper is the most important seasoning for the ground beef as it gives it a bolder flavor that contrasts nicely with the buttery pastry dough.

4-) Roll out the pastry dough and cut into three long rectangles. Then cut about three squares from each rectangle.

5-) For each square place about ½ tablespoon of the ground beef mixture, then dab your fingers with a little water on the edges to fold the pastry over.

6-) Once all of the sambosas have been filled use a fork to make wedges on the edges. Whisk two egg yolks and brush the tops with the egg yolks.

7-) Let the sambosas cook at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes, check your oven and take out once the tops are golden brown.

😎  During the cooking time pulse about one cup of pistachios in a food grinder until it is powdered. Mix the pistachio with 1 cup powdered sugar.

9-) Once the sambosas are cooked let them cool for about fifteen minutes, then sprinkle the powdered pistachio and sugar mixture on top.

10-) Serve the sambosas with either sweetened tea or Sheer Chai (Tea prepared with Milk)