A healthy treat for morning or afternoon tea, best kept sealed or wrapped to maintain moisture.
500g boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets
2 Tbs plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbs olive oil
75g (1 small bunch) coriander (cilantro), rinsed well
1 leek, white part only, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 green chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
250mL (1 cup) chicken stock
2 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon rind
6 sheets filo pastry
50g butter, melted
1 Tbs za'atar
1-2 tsp sesame seeds
Cut the chicken thighs into small bite-sized pieces. Put the flour and cumin in a clean plastic bag and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the bag and toss to coat in the seasoned flour.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry the chicken pieces for 5 minutes, or until golden all over. You will need to do this in batches, setting the pieces to one side as they are cooked.
Finely chop the roots and stems of the coriander and add to the pan, along with the leek, carrot and chilli. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the leek is soft, then return the chicken to the pan. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, uncovered, or until the mixture is quite thick and reduced.
Remove from the heat and stir through the preserved lemon and some roughly chopped coriander leaves. Spoon the mixture into four individual pie dishes or 250mL (1 cup) ramekins or ovenproof bowls.
Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Put one sheet of filo pastry on a clean chopping board and brush with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle a little za'atar over the top of the filo, then cover with another sheet of filo. Repeat the process with the remaining filo, butter and za'atar.
If simply covering the pie, cut the filo into four rounds, slightly larger than the pie dishes. Place the filo rounds on top of each chicken pie, tucking the filo in around the edges. If scrunching or rippling the pastry, then simply cut the pastry into four pieces and roughly arrange it over the top of the mixture. Brush with a little butter and sprinkle some sesame seeds over the top of each pie.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve the chicken pies with steamed green beans or a salad.