This weekend, try Bethany Kehdy’s Chicken Basteeya recipe from her stunning debut book, The Jewelled Kitchen – it’s the perfect centrepiece for a relaxed evening with friends.
“Traditionally, basteeya is a sweet and savoury delicacy made from pigeon layered with crushed almonds and egg, enclosed in a filo-like pastry. I decided to add a literal twist to the recipe by shaping the basteeya into snakes and replacing the pigeon with chicken” explains Bethany.
“In the Middle East, cooking is a truly intuitive art form …There is a saying that if you run with your senses, especially your sense of smell, that you will find inspiration. It’s never about exact measurements, and always about instinct.”
Chicken Basteeya Recipe
Preparation time 30 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour 20 minutes
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
500g/1lb 2oz mixture of chicken legs and thighs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5cm/2in piece of root ginger, peeled and grated
½ tsp turmeric or ground saffron
1 handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
juice and zest of 1 small lemon
125g/4½oz/scant cup blanched almonds
3 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
1 tbsp orange blossom water
7-8 sheets of filo pastry depending on the sheet size (defrosted if frozen)
70g/2½oz unsalted butter, melted
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the pan. Sear for 3-4 minutes, browning on both sides, then drain off any excess fat. Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook for 1 minute until aromatic, tossing the chicken to coat. Cover with 500ml/17fl oz/2 cups water and simmer for 30 minutes or until the juices from the chicken run clear when the thickest part of a thigh is pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
3. Remove the chicken from the broth, leaving the broth in the pan, and set the chicken aside to cool in a bowl. Continue cooking the chicken broth until it has reduced by about half, then whisk in the eggs one at a time until the eggs and broth form a scramble. You may find you don’t need to use all the eggs. Set aside to cool.
4. Once the chicken has cooled slightly, shred the meat and discard the bones. Add the herbs and lemon zest and juice to the chicken.
5. Grind the almonds to a rough paste in a food processor, then mix in the icing sugar, cinnamon and orange blossom water and stir to combine. Add this to the chicken along with the egg mixture. Stir to combine. If convenient, you can prepare the recipe to this stage one day in advance.
6. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Remove the sheets of filo from their packaging and cover them quickly with a damp kitchen towel to stop them drying out. Working with one sheet at a time, evenly spoon 4-5 tablespoons of the chicken mixture along the long edge of a filo sheet. Roll the pastry tightly into a long tube. Repeat with the remaining filo sheets and chicken mixture.
7. Transfer the rolled sheets to a 30cm/12in square or round baking tin. Starting from the outer edge, add the filo rolls as you work inwards to cover the base of the tin like a coiled snake. Drizzle the melted butter over the coiled pastry and bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes or until golden brown. Lightly dust with cinnamon and icing sugar, then slice into small, bite-sized pieces. Serve the basteeya warm.
Looking for something with zing? Try Bethany’s Moroccan Citrus Salad for a vibrant and refreshing taste of North Africa.
Bethany Kehdy is a pioneer of today’s new Middle Eastern cuisine.The Jewelled Kitchen takes you on an unforgettable adventure of Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. From Tuna Tartare with Chermoula and Sumac-Scented Chicken Parcels, to Cardamom-Scented Profiteroles and Ma’amoul Shortbread Cookies – mouth-watering dishes for you to try. Find Bethany at her inspiring food blog dirtykitchesecrets.com.
“Original and delicious” – Yotam Ottolenghi
The Jewelled Kitchen by Bethany Kehdy
224 pages • Illustrated • £20.00
AUS $32.99 NZ $42.00