Love at first bite

Chicken & almond pastillas

Chicken & almond pastillas.jpg

50g butter, melted, plus 1 tbsp for the pan
1 red onion, finely chopped
thumb-sized piece ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp cinnamon, plus ½ tsp for dusting
10 cardamom pods, seeds removed
1 tsp turmeric
6 boneless chicken thighs, skin removed
1 tbsp plain flour
500ml chicken stock
1 tbsp clear honey
100g ground almond
zest 1 orange
85g dried apricot, chopped
50g toasted flaked almond
small handful parsley, chopped
6 sheets feuille de brick or filo pastry
1 large egg, beaten
icing sugar, for dusting (optional)


Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large casserole dish, add the onion, ginger and garlic, and cook for 5 mins until soft. Add the cinnamon, the cardamom seeds and the turmeric. Stir around the pan for 30 secs until aromatic, then add the chicken and flour. Stir to coat the chicken pieces, then add the chicken stock and season. Stir, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 45 mins.

Remove the lid from the pan and lift the chicken pieces onto a plate. Add the honey and almonds to the cooking liquid and turn up the heat. Bubble the liquid until thick and reduced by about half. Meanwhile, finely shred the chicken with 2 forks. Return the chicken to the sauce and stir in the orange zest, apricots, flaked almonds and parsley – the mixture should be quite thick. Leave to cool.

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Unwrap the pastry, keeping any you’re not working with under a damp tea towel, so it doesn’t dry out. Taking one piece at a time, brush all over with the melted butter, and around the edges with the beaten egg. Put roughly a sixth of the chicken filling in the top right-hand corner in a triangular shape. Fold the opposite side of the pastry over to cover the filling. Keep flipping the encased filing down the pastry, brushing between the layers with butter as you go, to give you a triangular parcel, like a large samosa. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling until you have 6 pastillas. Put the pastillas on a baking tray and brush the tops with egg. Bake for 25 mins until the pastry is crisp and golden.

For an authentic finish, mix together the remaining cinnamon and icing sugar, and dust the pastillas just before serving.