Persian Phyllo Tarts with Pistachios

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Serves: 24

Classy is a good way to sum up these gorgeous delicate looking tarts. With an intriquing mix of seasonings in a creamy lemon spiked filling and a final sprinkling of pistachios, they are impressive all the way.


1 lb (0.5 kg) ground chicken
1 tsp (5 mL) each ground cumin and paprika
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) each cinnamon, turmeric and salt
1/4 tsp (1.25 mL) each cayenne and allspice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
freshly grated peel of 1 lemon (optional)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream (not no-fat)
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
8 phyllo sheets
chopped salted pistachios or fresh coriander or mint for garnish


1 Measure seasonings into a small bowl and stir to blend. Add onions. Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Spread chicken over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the onion seasonings mixture. Add ¼ cup (60 mL) water. Cook over medium-low heat, constantly working with a fork to keep separated. You do not want it to clump or toughen. Cook until no pink in chicken remains, about 5 minutes. Turn into a bowl including juices. Stir in lemon peel if using. Refrigerate until cooled to room temperature or cover and refrigerate up to a day.
2 To bake tarts, preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). If chicken mixture is cold, bring to room temperature. Break up any clumps with your fingers. In a large bowl, whisk eggs with sour cream. Stir in chicken mixture.
3 Lightly butter 24 tart cups, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide. Melt butter. Lay 1 phyllo sheet on work surface and cover the remaining with a damp tea towel. Lightly brush the sheet of phyllo with butter. Spreading with a finger can be helpful. Top with another phyllo sheet matching corners. Brush with more butter. Repeat with 2 more sheets, brushing both. Cut into 4 inch (10 cm) squares.
4 Pick up one square and gently press into one tart cup, forming a shell with phyllo points sitting above the muffin tin. Slightly separate these points to ruffle edges. Repeat with remaining squares. Spoon in chicken filling, about 3 tablespoons (45 mL) into each shell. Gently press down any chicken pieces sticking above the surface. Bake in 350°F (175°C) oven until phyllo is golden and filling set in centre when jiggled, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the second batch of tarts for baking.
5 When tarts are baked, remove tin to a rack to cool. Place the second tin of tarts in the oven and bake. After tarts have cooled 5 minutes, remove from tins and place on a rack.
6 Serve right away or at room temperature sprinkled with chopped pistachios or fresh coriander or mint. They will keep well in a covered container in the refrigerator for at least a day or in the freezer for a month.
7 EVEN EASIER: Spread 24 frozen tart shells out on baking sheets. Spoon chicken mixture into shells, adding about 3 tablespoons (45 mL) to each. Gently press down any pieces sticking above the surface. Bake in the middle of 375°F (190°C) oven until tarts seem set in the center when jiggled, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, before removing from their foil containers. Serve right away or at room temperature. Refrigerate if leaving more than 2 hours. They also freeze well.