Chicken Pastila (Serves four)
1.3kg chicken thighs (boned)
5 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
2 lemons (juice)
1 Spanish onion (grated)
Pinch of saffron (pounded with a
mortar and pestle)
1tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
1tsp ginger (ground)
3 sticks cinnamon
115g unsalted butter
115g icing sugar plus extra for Sprinkling
350gms almonds (toasted and flaked)
2tsp cinnamon (ground) plus extra for sprinkling
1 small bunch coriander leaves (chopped)
10 large eggs
225-340gms filo pastry
115 clarified butter
1 large bunch flat leaf parsely
1 small bunch coriander leaves (Chopped)
• Wash the chicken thighs, removing as much fat as possible.
• Mix together the crushed garlic with two tablespoons salt and the juice of one lemon to make a paste.
• Rub the chicken with the garlic paste; place in a bowl and marinate it in the refrigerator for one hour.
• Place the chicken thighs in a large casserole dish with the Spanish onion, saffron, turmeric, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon sticks, unsalted butter, a pinch of salt and the water.
• Bring to a boil; then, lower the heat; cover and simmer for one hour.
• Put the toasted almonds in a food processor and pulse until ground.
• Combine the ground almonds with the icing sugar and ground cinnamon; set aside.
• Remove the chicken from the casserole dish, strain the liquid and place the strained liquor back into the dish with the parsley and coriander.
• Bring the liquor to the boil and allow to boil rapidly, until the sauce has reduced to about 500ml. Add in the remaining lemon juice.
• In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy; then, pour the beaten eggs into the simmering sauce, stirring as you do so; stir continuously until the eggs cook and congeal. Taste and adjust the saltiness as required, drain well and
• Shred the chicken into small pieces, using two forks.
• Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (gas 7).
• Fold four filo pastry leaves in half, place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 seconds, or until crisp but not too browned.
• Unroll the remaining filo pastry sheets, keeping them under a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
• Brush some of the clarified butter over the bottom and sides of a 30cm shallow cake tin, or a deep, oven-proof, non-stick frying pan; then, cover the bottom with two filo pastry leaves.
• Arrange six more leaves so that they entirely cover the bottom of the tin and half hang over the sides.
Brush the extended leaves with butter so they do not dry out.
• Place the shredded chicken around the inner edge of the tin; then, work toward the centre so that the pastry is covered with a layer of shredded chicken.
• Cover this layer with the well-drained egg mixture and the four baked leaves.
• Sprinkle the almond-sugar mixture over the pastry.
• Cover with all but two of the remaining pastry leaves, brushing each very lightly with butter.
• Fold the overlapping leaves in over the top to cover the pie. Brush lightly with butter. Put the remaining two leaves over the top, lightly buttering each, and tuck the overlap neatly down the sides of the pie, like tucking in sheets.
• Brush the entire pie again with butter and pour any remaining butter around the edge.
• Bake the pie in the oven until the top pastry leaves are golden brown, i.e. for about 20 minutes.
• Shake the pan to loosen the pie and run a spatula around the edges; if necessary, tilt the pan to pour off any excess butter.
• Invert the pie on to a large, buttered baking-sheet.
• Brush the pie with the reserved butter and return to the oven to continue baking another 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
• Remove the bisteeya from the oven. Tilt to pour off any excess butter. Put a serving plate over the pie and holding it invert.
Dot the top of the pie with a little icing sugar and criss-crossing lines of cinnamon over the top.