Chicken and Almond Brewats
Brewats in Arabic mean “little envelopes.” I’ve eaten many variations of these little envelopes, from seafood and vegetables to cheese and fruits. The delicate, crispy phyllo dough makes everything taste more delicious, more sophisticated. If you’re looking for an elegant appetizer that will please everyone, look no more—this one is perfect.
These brewats with chicken, saffron and almonds are slightly adapted from the chicken and almond b’stilla in my book, Marrakesh Express. B’stilla is a larger, more festive version of brewats that is served during weddings and other big events. It is elegant, with opulent yet subtle flavors. B’stilla is typically made with thin and delicate b’stilla dough sheets, which are similar to phyllo dough, only more elastic. I’ve been using phyllo since I’ve moved to the US, and I love it—it makes crispy, dainty brewats and b’stillas.
I’ve spent all day in the kitchen today. I get so wrapped up and spend hours on end totally focused on whatever it is I’m making. Nothing else counts. Nothing else matters at that moment. My cooking takes importance unlike any other. I forget and abandon myself in it. Cooking is my yoga, my daily meditation session, and in a way my stress reliever.
As I was wrapping the phyllo around the chicken, every single one of my senses concentrated on getting a perfect fold, a faultless envelope to carry the delicious missive. And I got that perfect fold. And it felt like a conquest. That was my little victory for the day!
Chicken and Almond Brewats
Makes 8 to 10 brewats.
For the chicken
3/4 pound chicken breast
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 pinches saffron
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
6 sprigs parsley, chopped
6 sprigs cilantro, chopped
2 1/2 cups water
For the almond mixture
4 ounces roasted salted almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ tablespoon orange blossom water
For the phyllo
8 to 10 b’stilla or phyllo dough sheets
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
For the garnish
Thaw the phyllo dough according to package directions.
In a medium pot, combine all the ingredients for the chicken except the eggs, parsley, and cilantro. Simmer over medium heat until the onions are translucent, 8 to 12 minutes.
Add the water, cover, and cook until the chicken is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Scoop out the chicken and save the sauce for cooking the eggs. Shred the chicken using your hands or 2 forks and set aside.
Cook the beaten eggs in the sauce with the cilantro and parsley, stirring constantly to scramble the eggs, 8 to 10 minutes. Scoop out the eggs and mix with the shredded chicken. Let cool.
Grind the toasted almonds in a food processor until a paste-like consistency is obtained. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar, cinnamon, and orange blossom water. Add the almonds to the egg and chicken mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take one sheet of phyllo dough and brush it with melted butter. Place 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture on one end of the phyllo dough. Tuck the sides of the dough in and roll into an eggroll shape.
Place the eggrolls on a greased cookie sheet and brush with butter. Bake until golden brown and crispy, 30 to 35 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon before serving.