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Pastel is consider to be the king of the Cochini cuisine!

Each Jewish community has its special pastels. The Cochini pastels are very similar to the Argentinian empanada. The origin of the name empanada is from the Spanish word Empanadar which means "to roll in bread" or "to wrap". The origin of the empanada is in the Jews of Galicia in Spain and it is usually a baked version. The origin of the word pastel is from Spanish Pasteles or in Portuguese Pasteis and is the fried version wich is common in South American and Asian countries. The origin of both versions is from Spain, which provides a clue on the origin of the Jews who arrived to Cochin following the Spain and Portugal Jewish expulsion.

The filling of the Cochin pastels is made from chicken, potatoes and eggs, as in the Spanish origins, but the spices have probably evolved into the local flavors and spices of India over the past centuries, which distinguishes them from the pastels of the other Jewish communities world wide.

Pastels are usually eaten on Saturday morning after the Kiddush, but they are usually disappear very quickly on Friday while frying...

When I was a child I had a vague issue with boiled eggs. I didn't eat anything that had the egg white tasted or seen... and this is why I didn't eat pastels. I only ate the braided edge of the pastel. My grandfather had an uncle who lived with them in the house in Moshav and he didn't like to eat the braided edge of the pastel... so we had an agreement - he ate the pastel itself and left the braid for me...

{Full disclosure - even today I have an issue the egg white. I don't eat anything which you can see the white or feel the taste, so I make sure to chop the eggs well during the preparation}

Pastels are one of my children's favorite foods, and even today, when I make them they hide some in the refrigerator to have left overs for later.

The problem with pastels is that it takes a lot of time and preparations to make and it disappears in minutes. But I promise that the pleasure of eating them is defiantly worth the effort.

in the last few years I have developed methods to be more efficient. I usually make a huge amount of filling and then divide into boxes and freeze. When I want to make pastels, I defrost it in the fridge and strain the liquid before I fill it and it turns out great. Note that there are no shortcuts here - the texture of all the separately chopped ingredients , makes the difference!

I also tried the baked version for health reasons. It is true that the fried ones are the tastiest, but the baked version is not less delicious. I also made some successful attempts with spelled flour for the dough and it turned out wonderful. Vegetarians can replace the chicken with tofu - I did that too and it is great!

Pastels have many versions and every grandmother has her slight changes - I am bringing here the recipe of my late grandmother who was an amazing cook and the flavors of her food will always remain in my memory.

The quantity here is big and enough for 35-40 pastels.

Note : the basic filling is the same one used for few other recipes that you can find here :

Filling ingredients:

4-5 finely chopped onions

6 tablespoons of sunflower oil

3-4 boiled eggs

2 whole chicken breasts

3-4 medium potatoes boiled in water until soften

Half a package of chopped fresh cilantro

A handful of fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons of vinegar


1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon ginger powder

+ A little of the above spices to season the chicken

1 hot green pepper (optional)

Ingredients for the dough:

1/2 kg of flour

1 egg

1/3 cup of oil

1.5 - 2 cups of water

1 teaspoon of salt


  1. Heat oil in a large pot

  2. Fry the onion until golden. Stir occasionally

  3. Add salt, black pepper and turmeric and finally the coriander and vinegar

  4. Set aside to cool

  5. Peel the potatoes and cut into tiny cubes. The potatoes should be cooked but not too soft. The texture should be of cut cubes and not like mashed potatoes.

  6. Peel the eggs and cut into small pieces

  7. Season the chicken breast with the same spices

  8. Fry with small amount of oil in a pan from all sides until the chicken is ready. I use a lot of pre-cut thin schnitzels.

  9. When the chicken cools down, cut it into tiny cubes

  10. Add the mint leaves and all the filling ingredients to the pot with the onion, and mix together and adjust the seasoning to taste

  11. Put all the dough ingredients in a mixer and mix until you get a soft and flexible texture. The water should be added gradually

  12. Cut small balls (size of a ping pong ball ) from the dough

  13. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a thin circle with a diameter of 10 cm

  14. Put a full tablespoon of the filling in the center, tighten and pinch the ends into a "braid" shape - start from the end and fold in each time the new end that is created

  15. Fry the pastels in deep oil on both sides until golden, take out on a grid or absorbent paper

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Jubi Zulekha
Jubi Zulekha
Apr 04, 2023

These pastels are new to me but they look exactly like our kozhiada. My dad shared this article with me thinking these are kozhiadas they make in his hometown, . Our kozhiada are a miniature (size of a date) and the filing and shell is crisp. Traditionally made with beef, 'kozhi'ada is a misnomer. Enjoyed reading this.

Apr 16, 2023
Replying to

Thank you!

thank you also for sharing! yes I agree with you that the pastels look like a lot of other pastries in other countries. I also have a recipe of Pastel with beef that I will publish later on :)

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