Sambusa Cook-Off: Neighbors for Nations cooks up tasty challenge

Five chefs battle to make the Twin Cities' best sambusas

Five chefs battle to make the Twin Cities' best sambusas

What makes the perfect sambusa? Five Minnesota-based Somali chefs think they have the answer.

Saturday July 9, Neighbors for Nations is staging an all-out Sambusa Cook-Off at the Lab Theater in Minneapolis's Warehouse District. In addition to the culinary skills on display, this free event will feature authentic Somali music and a panel of celebrity judges to pick the best sambusa chef. And to top it all off, the first 350 guests will get to act as the fifth judge in the contest.


The five chefs include Abdirahman Kahin of Afro Deli & Coffee, Aidarus Munye of International Food Manufacturing, Sade Hashi of Safari Restaurant, Nafisa Farah of SomAmerica, and Fartun Nur, an independent chef.

A mainstay of Somali cuisine, sambusas are small pastry shells stuffed with flavorful fillings that can range from meats to potatoes to vegetables. Regardless of the filling, this traditional snack always boasts unique spices and flavors to add to an already mouthwatering experience. If you like Indian samosas, a cousin to the sambusa, you'll surely love this African variation.

Neighbors for Nations has also managed to corral Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the host of American Public Media's foodie show The Splendid Table. The acclaimed Somali singer Hibo Nuura and musician Adar Kahin will also join the judging panel.

The friendly competition contains a humanitarian aspect as well. Somalia is in the midst of one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, which includes war, governmental instability, and more recently drought. Minneapolis is home to the nation's largest Somali community, and Neighbors for Nations seeks to unite this community with the efforts of the American Refugee Committee to help Somali-Americans in the U.S. and the country of Somalia.   

Said Sheik-Abdi, the Neighbors for Nations Program Manager from the American Refugee Committee, calls this event "the first of its kind."

"Through these events, we're trying to build a strong community of Somali-Americans [and other community members] in Minneapolis to do positive work here, and to help address the humanitarian crisis in Somalia," says Sheik-Abdi.

The event is free, but requires an RSVP, and seats are going quickly.

Neighbors for Nations' Sambusa Cook-Off Saturday, July 9 at the Lab Theater 700 N. First Street, Minneapolis 7 p.m., free To RSVP, contact Jenna Myrland at [email protected], or at 612.607.6495.