Boulani- Potato Turnovers in the Afghan Manner

Afghan Boulani

Carb on carb is considered very naughty.

But we, the Afghans do it, the Pakistanis do it with our spiced potato sauté mopped up with pillowy naan; the Poles do it with their pierogies and you haven’t really lived yet if you haven’t been to that trattoria in Baschi, Umbria and had a silky raviolo stuffed with a velvety potato mash, served with a fruity olive oil and shavings of that musky, sweet, intense black truffle. That dish is called “i-want-to-lick-my-plate-and-the-person-who-created-this-combination”.

This is before I was married, of course.

Now licking of a random chef in a restaurant is verboten.

Afghan Boulani

Afghan boulani have that sort of effect on you- you want to lick the plate and the paper they are on.

And the cook.

They are utterly moreish, the perfect combination of crispy, chewy, hot- like a samosa. You have to eat them when they’re hot, straight out of the pan. Well, you don’t have to, but for those of you who have peered impatiently over your mum’s shoulder as she’s frying something and eaten it right off the newspaper-lined plate whilst burning your fingers-you lot know what I mean.

Eat these standing in the kitchen, dipping them deep into a bowl of mint and yoghurt chutney whilst burning your mouth and fingers as the steam pours out with each bite.

It’s well worth it.

Afghan Boulani

Afghan Boulani

Afghan Boulani

Afghan Boulani

Afghan Boulani

Makes 8
You will need a rolling pin and a 15cm pastry cutter (or you can use the lid of a small saucepan).

For the pastry:
*300g flour, sifted
*1 1/2tsp salt,
*200-250ml of cold water

For the potatoes:
*1kg potatoes, halved (I use medium-sized yellow ones)
*6 stalks scallions, sliced into thin disks
*salt to taste
*1/2 tsp black pepper
*1/8 tsp white pepper
*1/2 tsp pink pepper berries + more for garnish, crushed in a spice mixer or with a pestle and mortar
*oil for shallow frying

For the pastry:
*Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl and slowly, tablespoon by tablespoon, start to add water and knead till it forms a dough.
*Knead for 10 minutes and then divide into 4 balls. Cover with a teacloth or plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour.
*In the meanwhile, prepare the potato filling.

For the potato filling:
*Bring a large pot of water to boil and add potatoes.
*Boil till fork tender, about 15 minutes, depending on the potato you are using.
*Drain potatoes and when they have cooled, remove the skin.
*Transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. I like the mixture to be chunky (versus completely smooth).
*Add scallions, salt to taste, black pepper, white pepper and pink pepper berries.
*Mix to combine.
*Set aside while you roll out the dough.

*Roll out one of four portions of dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin till dough is half a centimetre thick.
*With a pastry cutter, approximately 15cm or a saucepan lid, cut out circles.
*Place on parchment paper as you shape them and cover with a teacloth.
*Repeat the process of rolling out the dough and cutting out circles, for all four portions of dough. Use the scraps of dough, too.
*On half of each round, place 2-3 tbps of the potato filling. Moisten the edges of dough with a finger dipped in water and fold dough over the filling to form a half-moon. Pleat the edges shut (you can also seal them with a fork).
*Press down around filling to force out any air.
*Place boulani on parchment paper and cover with a teacloth till ready to fry.
*Place oil in a large frying pan or skillet for shallow frying on medium heat.
*Fry 2-3 boulani at a time, 1-2 minutes per side or till golden brown.
*Transfer to a newspaper or towel paper lined tray to absorb the oil.
*Garnish with crushed pink pepper berries and some scallions.
*Serve with a green chutney of your choice.



  1. love your red nails crushing the peppercorns! so very glam + tasty.

  2. Shayma – these look right up my street! You forgot the good old British chip butty! Also Bombay Vada Pao…..

  3. these look scrumptious!

  4. They might be carb on carb but they look so dainty. I love to discover a new savoury pastry treat.

  5. these look scrumptious and totally worth cheating on the diet.

  6. Ciao ! I HAVE to try your Boulanis they really look like lecco il piatto e il cuoco !

  7. @Lee Thanks- I love red nails and pinkish-red pepper berries. Both delicious. x s

    @Pam But of course- how could I have forgotten those two things? The Egyptians and Syrians also do a chip butty- seems like carb-on-carb naughtiness is a part of every country’s kitchen. x s

    @Rabya Thank you- they are particularly good with the chutney- spiced up a lot.

    @Corina My weakness in life is fried, savoury treats- so these are just the ticket for someone like that.

    @Rabya Every diet requires a cheat day…

    @Natalia Ooh, please tell me more about that…

  8. Gorgeous – nothing more comforting than a bit of carb on carb (or, as I like to call it, double carbing). Your step-by-step pics are beautiful – the dough looks so bubbly and crisp.

  9. Love the photos Shayma esp how pretty they look with the neat folds & the pink peppercorns. Nothing better than tucking into crisp fried goodness like this!

  10. This sort of carb-on-carb wickedness is the sort of thing that makes eating so much fun 😉 And exactly the sort of thing that prompts spontaneous chef-licking incidents. At least this bad behaviour transcends language barriers.

    These look just the ticket for a pre(post, during)-dinner snack, looking like wee Cornish pasties, and filled with wonderful peppery warmth. What sort of taste do the pink peppercorns give to the finished result (I have never used them in their own before)?

  11. @Salty Double carbing hee hee, I love it. x s

    @Maunika Thanks as always, M. x s

    @Grubworm Bad behaviour always descends all language barriers- I am honestly going to start stealing your phrases to use in my blogposts! 😉 As for the pink peppercorns, I am a huge fan- I also love them (crushed) on omelettes. Tart, peppery, sharp.

  12. These look delicious! I had Afghan food this past weekend here in Chicago. It is not as spicy as Indian food, yet SO FLAVORFUL!

  13. I really enjoy reading your blog – lovely recipes! I wish you had a youtube-channel or something so we could see your cooking skills in action…there are still some of us who have a loooong way to become experts in the kitchen – it would help a lot to see how you do the actual stuff…..

    Best wishes,

  14. Carb on carb may be naughty but the pastry has no butter. A healthy alternative to using puff pastry. Thanks for the inspiration

  15. Ok, maybe I’m revealing too much, but I have always been a carb on carb type girl. I will also tell you that I read a lot of food blogs and hands down, this recipe wins in the “I must make” department. Gorgeous.

  16. Carb on carb is brilliant stuff; I’m a huge fan of potato curry with rice.

    these look delicious; such a simple filling too.

  17. How interesting that each culture has their own definition of similar snack. For the Malaysians, the closest to this would be curry puffs with the sides twisted in the same manner.

  18. You’re right, they would not only make me want to lick my plate and the paper, but also this big old computer screen in front of me. I am a huge fan of pink peppercorns, love that you used them here, Shayma. – S

  19. My mouth is watering! They look absolutely delicious 😉

  20. Pink peppercorns. This will be my “something new learned every day”. In the deep south, we make these little meat pies for weddings. They are filled with potatoes and spiced beef. As children, we would sneak handfuls of them and stuff ourselves during a wedding.

  21. These look so delicious…and so perfect for a picnic!

  22. Uuuuuuuuummmmmmmm…. :-*

  23. These look real scrumptious..its my first time on ur space..great snaps..:)

  24. These look amazing. I always make bolany, however I have never attempted to make my own dough (which I’m sure tastes so much better). I will have to try this recipe. Thank you for sharing!

    ps: I will be eating bolany tonight w/ my family!

  25. Shaista says:


    In your lovely recipes, please could you mention what type of flour you use, for instance your potato turnovers, almond cake etc. Is it self raising or just plain flour?

    Nevertheless I have just discovered your blog and you are a great inspiration for asian women.

  26. @Shaista Thank you so much- whenever I refer to ‘flour’ in the recipe, it means plain, white flour, unless otherwise specified. Thank you again for your kind comment.

  27. I absolutely love bolani! I actually like them better than aloo paratha. I’ve never seen it like this before though, more so like a stuffed flat-bread cut into pieces. Do you think you could convert the grams and ml to cups? I would really appreciate it. Tashukar for sharing the recipe! I asked one of my Afghan friends, but because of ‘andaza’, she didn’t have a set recipe… hehe.

    • @Mia I am so sorry, I don’t work with cups. It is not impossible to convert to cups- for each ingredient you can find the gram or millilitre equivalent in cups or tablespoons- there are loads of converters on the internet. Hope this helps.

  28. what is the recipe for the chutney?

    • @Shy Hi Shy, I haven’t published the recipe yet, but basically you take a bundle of fresh cilantro (leaves and stalks), a small white onion, a whole tomato, 2-3 green chilies, salt to taste and whiz it in a blender till it turns to liquid.

  29. Totally agree with your suggestion.. Very nice post and good information here..Thanks for posting that..

  30. this is a very tasty dish.


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