Your cart is empty
Shop products

Shared by Ilanit Menachem

Cochin-Style Pastel (Fried Pastries Filled with Spiced Chicken)

Yield: 6-8 servingsTime: 1 H 30 min

Shared by Ilanit Menachem

Pastels on salmon pink plate, over yellow embroidered tablecloth.
Photographer: Armando Rafael. Food Stylist: Judy Haubert. Prop Stylist: Vanessa Vazquez.

Cochin-Style Pastel (Fried Pastries Filled with Spiced Chicken)

Yield: 6-8 servingsTime: 1 H 30 min

Family Journey

Chendamangalam, IndiaGivat Ko’ach, IsraelRishon LeTsiyon

The Jewish community from Cochin (present-day Kochi), India is a blend of Malabar Jews who are believed to have arrived in India as early as the time of King Solomon and Paradesi Jews, who were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. The pastel, which Ilanit Menachem calls the “king of the Cochini cuisine” likely has its roots in the Paradesi community. Similar to empanadas, pastel are filled savory pastries — in this case, with spiced chicken, potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs. Traditionally, they’re served on Shabbat.

Read more about Ilanit’s family in “Ilanit Menachem’s on a Mission to Preserve Cochini Jewish Recipes” and try her recipes for appam (Cochin-style shabbat bread) and ispetti (spicy beef stew)


For the filling:

  • 6 tablespoons sunflower oil 
  • 4 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, chopped into ¼ inch cubes
  • 3 russet potatoes, boiled peeled and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 hot green pepper, finely chopped (optional)
  • 4 eggs, hard boiled and finely chopped
  • Half bunch of chopped fresh cilantro
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

For the dough

  • 4 cups (480 grams) AP flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Oil for frying
Cooking ProjectsAppetizersSidesShabbatMeat South AsiaMiddle East


  • Step 1

    Heat the sunflower oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the chopped onion and saute, stirring occasionally until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken, salt, black pepper, turmeric, ginger powder, and green pepper. Continue cooking until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Place the cooked mixture into a bowl and toss with the cilantro, mint and vinegar.

  • Step 2

    Place all the dough ingredients besides the water in a stand mixer and mix with a paddle on low speed. Slowly add the water and mix until you have a very moist, stretchy dough. Noe: This dough is very wet, it will not quite form a ball.

  • Step 3

    Cut small ping-pong ball sized balls from the dough. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a thin circle (⅛ inch) with a diameter of 4 inches.

  • Step 4

    Put approximately 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center. Fold one half of the dough over the filling to join the other half. You can either crimp the edges with the back of a fork, or press and twist the edges of the dough together, forming an ‘empanada design’. 

  • Step 5

    Fry the pastels in deep oil which has been heated to approximately 360F until golden, about 2-3 minutes total. Once cooked, set onto a paper-towel lined pan and lightly sprinkle with salt.