Far Eastern Turkey Pie

I concocted this as a vehicle for leftover turkey but you can use cooked chicken if you have enough; in fact the pie is so good that it would be worth cooking some turkey or chicken meat from scratch. I first started using these flavourings after enjoying the delicate cuisine of Vietnam. Putting them in a filo pastry pie is very cross-cultural, of course, but it works well.


  • about 1.35 kg/3 lb cooked boneless turkey meat
  • 5-7.5 cm/2-3 in piece cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 2 star anise
  • 1-2 fresh red chillies
  • 5 cm/2 in piece fresh ginger
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 2 thin lemon grass stalks
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 rounded tablespoons coconut milk powder
  • 225 ml/8 fl oz warm water
  • 100 g/4 oz butter
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • generous handful fresh coriander leaves
  • 350 g/12 oz filo pastry
  • salt


Remove any skin from the turkey meat, chop the flesh roughly and put it into a large mixing bowl. Break up the cinnamon stick and put it into an electric coffee grinder with the cardamom seeds extracted from their pods and the star anise. Grind finely. Cut open the chillies lengthways under running water and discard the seeds and stems. Peel the ginger and garlic. Chop the chillies, ginger and garlic together finely. Cut the base and top and any marked outer part off the lemon grass and then slice across very finely. Chop the lime leaves very finely. Put the coconut milk powder into a measuring jug with a teaspoon of salt. Add the warm water and stir to mix smoothly.

Put a dry frying pan over a medium heat, add the ground spices and stir for half a minute. Add 15 g/½ oz of the butter and, when it melts, add the chillies, ginger, garlic and lemon grass. Stir over the heat for a minute, then stir in the coconut milk and the chopped lime leaves. Stir thoroughly and remove from the heat before it boils. Pour over the turkey meat and mix together.

Slice the spring onions at 5mm/¼in intervals, using as much of the green part as possible. Roughly chop the coriander leaves. Stir the spring onions and coriander leaves into the turkey mixture and season with salt.

Gently melt the remaining butter in a saucepan and then remove from the heat. Brush a large round or rectangular ovenproof dish with some of the butter and lay a sheet of filo pastry in the dish, leaving the edges hanging over the sides. Brush the filo pastry thinly with butter. Then lay on a second sheet, spoon in the turkey mixture and spread level. Fold the sides of the pastry in over the turkey filling. Lay another sheet of pastry on top and fold in. Brush with butter and continue with layers of pastry and butter until you have only one sheet of pastry left. Put this on top but crumple roughly instead of folding in the edges. Brush lightly with butter.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3 and cook the pie for 30-40 minutes, then increase the heat to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8 and cook for a further 5-10 minutes, until the pastry is a rich golden brown.