Chicken Pastilla with Freekeh and Almonds recipe

Middle Eastern recipe for Chicken Pastilla with filo pastry

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 free-range chicken thighs, skinless, bone-in
1 large brown onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
zest of 1 lemon
generous pinch red chilli threads or chilli flakes
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ cup wholegrain freekeh
¾ cup cracked freekeh
½ bunch kale, finely shredded
½ cup white wine
1 cup passata
3 cups chicken stock
¼ cup Turkish apricots, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons cranberries
½ cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper
6 sheets filo pastry
3 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon plus 2 tablespoons icing sugar, combined

How to
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large based pan.

Season the chicken and brown until well coloured on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan and sauté the onion until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add all the spices and aromatics and toast until fragrant. (about 2-3 minutes)

Now add both freekeh grains and toast for 2 minutes to increase the nutty flavour.

Stir through the kale and fry for 2 minutes until it starts to wilt. Season with salt and pepper.

Deglaze the pan with the wine and reduce by half. Add the passata and all the chicken stock.

Return the chicken pieces to the pan. Add the apricots and cranberries.

Cover with a lid and simmer for 35-40 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pan and shred into small, bite sized pieces.

Add the chicken pieces to the freekeh and stir through the toasted almonds. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200º C. Grease 23cm round springform cake tin.

Brush each sheet of filo pastry lightly with melted butter and layer up in the tin. The filo will extend over the sides of the tin, which we’ll fold in later.

Fill the pastry with the chicken filling. Fold the overlapping pastry edges in, press down lightly and brush the top with butter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden.

Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before un-moulding. Dust the top lightly with the cinnamon and icing sugar. Serve immediately.

Freekeh is green wheat that is either sold as cracked or wholegrain. If you can’t find, you can substitute with barley, couscous, bulgar or quinoa.

Recipe provided by Bibby’s Kitchen @ 36, a food blog by Dianne Bibby. For more details on monthly cooking classes hosted in Johannesburg, email

Recipe ID 31842

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