Hello and welcome to This Spicy Life… Today India meets Greece in a pie made with a crust of filo (phyllo) dough and a nice korma for the filling. It’s a perfect marriage of creamy korma and flaky filo resulting in an extremely tasty meal.
This pie is inspired by a recipe from my brother who makes a delicious Greek Spinach Pie. He lives far away so I haven’t had his version for several years. I do remember fondly that it’s stuffed with tons of veggies such as zucchini, carrot, green beans and lots of spinach.
My korma recipe is a non-traditional take on a traditional north Indian korma. The recipe I adapted comes from Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni. I changed a few of her ingredients and made it without any dairy, keeping with the pure vegetarian theme of this blog. And I used way less oil than the original recipe called for – I used about 4 tablespoons of oil/margarine while the original recipe called for 12 tablespoons (plus paneer). But then there is added oil in the crust…oh well! You can use a variety of vegetables in this recipe. Just substitute similar veggies if possible. Broccoli would be excellent as well as leeks and peas.
A note about the filo: when I started making my brother’s spinach pie recipe on my own I experimented with using less oil on the filo leaves. It doesn’t work. I tried to oil just every other leaf (resulting in too dry, fly-away layers) and only the top layers thinking the juice would sink in (it only made a soggy mess). If you are scared of using oil, try using a traditional savory pie crust or just serve the korma with naan or rice.
Korma Meets Filo Pie
Serves 6 – 8
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 stick cinnamon (or 1 tsp cinnamon powder)*
- 12 cardamom pods, crushed and skins removed (or 2 tsp cardamom powder)
- 20 cloves (or 2 tsp clove powder)*
- 2 cups onions, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
- 2 green chilies, finely chopped
- 3 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 cup potatoes, diced in 1/4″ cubes
- 1 cup cauliflower stems, chopped in bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup carrots, diced in 1/2″ cubes or chunks
- 2 cups cauliflower flowers, chopped in bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup spinach, fresh or frozen, chopped
- 1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked
- 5 tbsp ground almonds (powder or paste)
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp margarine or butter (or other fat), softened
- 1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup soy milk creamer (or other cream)
- 1/2 pkg filo (phyllo) dough, thawed in refrigerator overnight and set out at room temperature unopened for at least 20 minutes)
- 4 tbsp oil (approximately) for brushing the filo leaves
For the Korma:
- Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp oil.
- To the hot oil, add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
- When the spices become fragrant (after about 30 – 60 seconds), add the onions and allow to cook until they become translucent. Stir frequently.
- Add the garlic, ginger and green chilies and stir. Allow to cook for a few more minutes until the onions start to get brownish on the edges (but not burned!).
- Add 2 tsp of salt, potatoes, carrots and cauliflower stems.
- Cook for about 5 minutes before adding the remaining cauliflower and spinach. (*see note below)
- Stir in the almond powder/paste and allow to cook for about a minute.
- Add the chickpeas and 1 cup of water. Stir everything together, lower the heat to the medium low and cover the pot. Stir occasionally and allow to cook until the veggies are cooked through (but not mushy). Add more water as needed but never more than barely covers the veggies. (The veggies can cook with the steam created when the pot is covered.)
- Remove from the heat. Remove most of the liquid using a spoon and reserve.
- Mix the margarine/butter with the flour in a small bowl. Be sure to mix it well so that all of the flour is fully incorporated.
- Stir 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid into the flour mixture, then add this back to the veggie mixture.
- Add the cream and stir well.
- Add additional reserved liquid if necessary to make a very thick gravy.
- Taste for salt and add more if necessary.
For the assembly of the pie:
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Oil a round deep-dish pie plate (2 inches or more in-depth) or an 8″ x 8″ square (or similar size) baking dish.
- Put 4 tbsp oil in a small bowl. Set aside with a pastry brush.
- Remove the filo dough from the packaging and place on a cookie sheet or other surface.
- Cut the dough in half from long end to long end. Put half of the stack of dough under a moist towel while you work with the other half.
- With the pastry brush and working quickly, pick up a bit of oil and spread gently on the first layer of dough. Spread all around, don’t be too stingy but don’t have pools of oil either. Be sure to get oil on the edges and corners.
- Place this sheet in your pie plate or baking dish.
- Repeat with 8 more layers of filo, alternating the layers cross-wise. It’s okay if some of them rip a little bit. The layers should hang over the side of the dish.
- Now add the filling – spoon 3 – 4 cups or more (depending on the size of your dish) into the center and flatten out to the edges of the dish. You most likely will have korma left over.
- Repeat oiling and placing layers of filo, using 6 layers for the top.
- Roll the overhanging dough under and gently tuck into the sides of the pie. (This is a rustic pie, so doesn’t have to be perfect!)
- Score some vents in the top of the pie with a knife so that steam will escape.
- Place in the oven for 20 – 40 minutes or until nice and lightly browned on the top. (I know that this is a wide range of time but it depends on the size of your baking dish and how full your pie is…the filling is cooked, it’s just the filo that needs to cook and get browned.)
- While your pie is in the oven, wrap up your leftover filo and put it back in the freezer.
- Allow the pie to set up for about 10 – 15 minutes before cutting and serving. BTW, it’s normal for the top of the pie to break up into little crispy goodness pieces 🙂
*While cooking the veggies in Step 6, you may want to pick out as many cloves as you can find along with the cinnamon stick (you can skip this step if you don’t mind serving with the whole spices or you can substitute ground spices for the whole spices).