Khatere and her Afghan cuisine.

In this interview, Khatere, who fled Afghanistan, talks about her goals for the future.

Khatere fled her native Afghanistan twice and came to Switzerland with her family in 2016. Now she wants to pass on her culinary heritage and has started offering online cooking classes and a catering service. The next step? A food truck.

What is it like to flee your home country?

“Khatere” means “good memories” in Dari. Unlike my name, it is not easy to reflect on my memories or to share them with others, as I have had to flee from my homeland in Afghanistan twice. However, I would like to use my platform to tell people how painful it is to have to leave home behind, and how difficult it is to rebuild your life as a refugee. I’ve been living in Zurich for more than five years now. The trip to Switzerland was very difficult for me and my family.

You fled twice. What happened the first time?

I was six years old when the Taliban first came to power in 1992. My family fled from Afghanistan to Iran. I spent most of my childhood in Iran, where my mother taught me how to cook, which sparked my passion for Afghan cuisine. I was so proud when I finally got to cook for my family for the first time.

But then you had to flee again. Tell us about that.

My husband and I returned to Afghanistan once it appeared to have stabilised in the aftermath of the events surrounding September 11. But it wasn’t long before the Taliban returned and we made the difficult decision to leave again. It was only once we reached a refugee camp in Greece that we felt safe, even though we were stuck there. We tried to keep going on foot, but we couldn’t. The conditions in the camp were so bad that we decided that my daughter and I would try to enter Switzerland using fake passports. Over a year later, I was finally reunited with my husband and my son in Zurich. We have been living here together since 2017.

How did you come up with the idea of starting a catering service?

We always wanted to stand on our own two feet, and we have worked hard to create a new life here. But it is difficult to find a job if you do not have a complete command of the language and when your qualifications aren’t recognised. Thanks to the support of a young Swiss student named Kira, I came up with the idea of setting up my own catering service. I wanted to share the culinary delicacies my mother had taught me to make and use them to bring people together.

How did you transform that idea into a business?

We started Afghan Laziz in 2021. We would never have managed without the help of Capacity, a talent and start-up incubator for people with refugee or migrant backgrounds. In 2020, I took part in their entrepreneurship program to strengthen my business skills. With their help, I was able to turn my idea into a real company.

And what are your plans for the future?

A lot has happened since then. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we started offering online cooking classes and set up a catering service. Now we’re planning our next step: a food truck to bring Afghan cuisine to the streets of Switzerland. This will hopefully provide a secure livelihood for me and my family and enable me to share my greatest passion with the people of Switzerland: food from my homeland.



Capacity programme graduate

Khatere has been living with her family in Switzerland since 2016. She set up Afghan Laziz, a catering service for Afghan cuisine, and also offers cooking classes. But she won’t stop there: she’s also planning to start a food truck.
Partnership: Capacity

Our partner Capacity brings locals and newcomers together with a focus on collaborative skill-sharing at its centre.  Capacity's Talent and Start-up Incubator runs an Entrepreneurship and an Access programme, both of which are aimed at people with a refugee or migrant background in Switzerland.