Chicken ouzi

Chicken ouzi

Our chicken ouzi 'upside-down' pie is a combination of flaky filo pastry, cheesy rice, and delicious chicken filling with nuts and raisins. The lightly golden filo pastry layers create a decorative pattern that makes it a beautiful and enticing sight. Served with one of our simple yet colourful salads, chicken ouzi makes for a wonderful iftar meal sure to appeal to kids as well as adults. Try it this Ramadan to find out exactly how delicious it is.


  • Boil the chicken in salted water for 40 minutes, drain, and put aside to cool. Let the stock cool slightly.
  • Melt butter in a pan, fry the minced meat, and simmer until lightly cooked. Add rice. Mix for 5 minutes.
  • When the rice becomes transparent, pour 480 ml chicken stock over it, and sprinkle with salt. Cook the rice for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, debone the chicken and cut it into thin slices.
  • Pan-fry almonds in olive oil for 5 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • Brush a deep gratin dish with butter. Brush the filo pastry slices with butter and layer them in the dish until fully covered. The pastry should hang over the edge of the dish.
  • To prepare the filling, mix rice, almonds, raisins, chicken, and grated mozzarella cheese, and pour it into the gratin dish.
  • Cover the filling with the hanging dough. Press the edges of the dough together to seal the filling in.
  • Bake for 45 minutes. Turn the dish upside down onto a serving dish. Garnish with toasted almonds and lettuce. Serve immediately.

Whenever you cook with rice, it is important to rinse it. You can do without, but it yields a better result. Place the uncooked rice in a strainer and run cold water over it until the water runs clear. The reasons for rinsing rice are threefold. Firstly, it cleans the rice and removes any dirt or dust that may have gathered on its surface. Secondly, running water over the slightly dehydrated rice starts the rehydration process, meaning your rice will be plumper. Thirdly, it removes the starchy residue left on it after processing. Removing this allows you to cook tender rice that does not clump.

Questions about ouzi

Try our tasty ouzi recipe with chicken this Ramadan to serve a dish that is both decorative and delicious. To learn more about it, read our answers to the most frequently asked questions below.

What is ouzi?
Ouzi is a staple Middle Eastern dish consisting of spiced rice in flaky filo pastry parcels. It is popular to make ouzi with chicken, lamb, or beef, and the filling often has nuts, vegetables, and even dried fruit in it. Traditional choices include almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, peas, and raisins. The rice filling is sometimes enriched with cheese as well. Crispy beef, lamb, or chicken ouzi may be prepared as individual filo packages or a communal upside-down pie.
How to make ouzi at home?
A traditional chicken ouzi is perfect for iftar and quite easy to make. Boil the chicken. Then cook the minced meat in butter, add the rice, and once transparent, add chicken stock and cook for 15 minutes. As it cooks, debone the chicken, and cut it into slices. Mix rice, chicken, pan-fried almonds, raisins, and shredded mozzarella to finish the filling. Arrange buttered filo pastry sheets in a greased gratin dish. Fill the dish with cheesy chicken ouzi filling and seal it with pastry. Bake it, turn the golden pie upside down, and serve it garnished with almonds and lettuce.
How to layer the filo dough for ouzi?
Before you start layering the filo pastry for chicken ouzi, remember to brush the gratin dish with melted butter to make removing it easy. The pastry sheets should also be brushed with melted butter to ensure they stick together and seal in the filling and gain a crisp surface when baked. Now place overlapping sheets of filo dough until the dish becomes fully covered and the sheets are hanging over the edge, buttering each layer every time. Cool the filling completely before transferring it to the pastry-lined dish. Use the sheets hanging over the edges, and possibly more sheets, to seal the chicken ouzi well.
What spices to use for ouzi?
Great chicken ouzi spices include bay leaf, curry, cinnamon, allspice, cumin, cardamom, and, of course, the traditional 7 spice mix, which contains many of these aromatic spices as well as coriander, cloves, and nutmeg. You can either add the spices as well as pepper to the mince as you cook it and the rice in butter, or you can add it to the water in which you boil the whole chicken. This water becomes the chicken stock used to cook the rice. As such, adding your spices of choice to this water essentially allows you to flavour all your filling.


Grated mozzarella cheese
75 g
Chicken mince
200 g
Whole chicken (approx. 1 kg)
Chicken stock
480 ml
100 g
200 g
Salt to taste
150 g
Olive oil
2 tbsp
Butter, to grease the mould
Filo pastry
200 g
Olive oil
2 tbsp
Toasted almonds

Traditional chicken ouzi with rice

Chicken ouzi is a tasty Arabic classic filled with lovely flavours and textures. From tender rice and minced meat to gooey melted Mozzarella cheese, crunchy almonds, chewy raisins, and juicy chicken slices, this crispy filo pastry pie holds many great surprises. It is filled with wonderful savoury flavours and has sweet and nutty undertones that make it a wonderfully well-rounded pie dish.

As is the tradition, the rice is cooked first in butter and then in stock rather than simply in water. This infuses the naturally nutty-tasting rice with plenty of buttery and savoury goodness. As a result, the dish's chicken flavour is enhanced so you will be left wanting more with every bite.

Beautiful upside-down filo package

Chicken ouzi is a staple in many Middle Eastern homes. It is sometimes served as single-serve filo pastry parcels with spiced rice and meat, but we have opted to make one large filo package. A whole upside-down chicken ouzi pie rather than individual packages eases the cooking process and garnished with slivered almonds and fresh, crispy lettuce, it makes for a beautiful centrepiece for iftar to impress family and guests alike.

Serve it with a side salad like a colourful, flavour-packed rocca salad or quinoa salad with feta or simply with a mint and cucumber-flavoured yoghurt dressing.

Multiple layers of crispy filo dough

Filo pastry is wonderfully versatile and great for sweet and savoury dishes and it is what makes this chicken ouzi so characteristic and delicious. Though it can be made from scratch, many prefer the ease of using frozen dough that has already been rolled out into thin, ready-to-use sheets.

When thawed overnight, these pastry sheets are convenient and just as great at crisping up in the oven – even when multiple layers are placed on top of each other, they cook well and turn wonderfully flaky. As your chicken ouzi bakes, the pastry becomes beautifully golden and its light, flaky texture makes it delightful to bite into.

If you want to make other dishes with crispy filo pastry, we suggest having a look at our cheese sambousek recipe.

Experiment with the ouzi rice filling

It can be tempting to fill chicken ouzi with all sorts of delicious ingredients. However, to avoid overstuffing it and risk making it too dense, it is important to carefully consider what to include in the fillings. As such, if you want to experiment with traditional options like vibrant peas and pistachios, you may want to use these instead of raisins and almonds. Toasted pine nuts and chopped, fresh parsley are also tasty ideas for the chicken ouzi filling.

Since the rice is cooked in homemade stock, a way to mix up any chicken ouzi rice flavour is to infuse it with different herbs and spices added to the water in which the chicken is cooked. This will flavour the chicken as well as the rice!

Options like bay leaves, sweet-spicy cinnamon, aromatic allspice, depth-enhancing cumin, or traditional Middle Eastern 7 spice blend will work well in a classic chicken ouzi. Of course, a generous amount of salt and pepper is also a must.