Moroccan-spiced chicken and phyllo pie

Recipe from: 6 October 2010

Ingredients 29
Servings 6
Time 35 mins


  • 12
    skinless, deboned chicken breasts
  • 5
    sheets of fresh phyllo pastry
  • Melted butter for brushing
  • Ground cinnamon for dusting
  • Marinade:
  • 250
    plain white yoghurt
  • 2
    lemons, juiced
  • 10
    finely grated lemon zest
  • 2
    cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 20
    powdered cumin
  • 1
    chilli powder
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • Sauce:
  • 2
    onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 30
    sunflower oil
  • 1
    8cm stick cinnamon
  • 6
    ripe tomatoes
  • 80
    ground almonds
  • 10
    ground ginger
  • 10
    ground coriander
  • 15
    mild paprika
  • 2
    cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 375
    chicken or vegetable stock, or water
  • Salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 75
    cold butter, cubed (optional)
  • 24
    green olives, pitted
  • 45
    preserved lemon peel, finely chopped
  • 125
    chopped fresh coriander (loosely packed)
  • 125
    chopped fresh parsley (loosely packed)


45 mins
Cut the chicken into strips as big as your little finger (or into large cubes, if you prefer).
Place all the marinade ingredients into a large plastic or glass bowl and mix well. Stir in the chicken strips. Cover and set aside in the fridge for two hours.

Heat the olive oil in a large, shallow pan and add the chopped onion and cinnamon stick.
Cook, over a medium flame, until the onions have softened.
In the meantime, quarter the tomatoes and put them in a liquidiser or a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Process at high speed until you have a pale pink, mushy liquid.
Pour this into the pan containing the onions and add the almonds, ginger, coriander, paprika and garlic.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook at a fairly brisk bubble for 15 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. 
To check whether it's ready, draw a wooden spoon across the base of the pan. If the channel created by the spoon closes reluctantly, the sauce is thick enough.

Turn the heat to its lowest setting. Tip the chicken and its marinade into the pan and stir. Cook very gently (the mixture should barely bubble) for 10 or so minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through.
Add the butter and toss gently. Stir in the olives, preserved lemon, coriander and parsley, and set aside to cool.
Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. (At this point, the mixture can go into the fridge overnight, but add the coriander and parsley only just before you assemble the pie).

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Unroll the phyllo pastry and remove five sheets.
Place a sheet of pastry on a piece of greaseproof paper or a clean tea towel (cover the remaining sheets with a damp cloth) and brush all over with melted butter. 
Place another sheet on top, and brush with butter again. Continue until you've used up all five sheets.

Grease a rectangular pie dish that's a little smaller than the phyllo pastry.
Remove the cinnamon stick from the chicken mixture.
 Pile the filling into the dish and carefully place the layered phyllo on top.
Tuck the excess pastry down along the edges, or crimp it neatly.
Brush melted butter over the top of the pie and dust with a little ground cinnamon.
Bake at 180ºC for 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Watch the pie like a hawk: if it looks like it's browning too quickly, loosely cover it with tin foil.

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Read more on: poultry  |  bake

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