Have you ever wondered what you should do with the left over phyllo pastry in your fridge? Especially if the air has got to it and it's a bit dry. Make Om Ali with it of course. I found this Egyptian dessert in my Claudia Roden recipe book - Middle Eastern Food . My copy is an older version but I'm sure the recipe will be in the revised edition.
Many cultures use up stale bread with a similar style bread pudding. In Egypt Om Ali is made with left over phyllo pastry. The origins of this pudding are varied. One theory is it was introduced into Egypt by the Irish mistress of Khedive Ismail.
It is sometimes made with pancakes, thinly rolled pastry or pieces of bread. Claudia makes hers with phyllo (also known as fila) pastry. Without butter and eggs it is less calorific than the traditional English Bread and Butter pudding. Here's my version adapted from the original Claudia recipe.
5 - 6 sheets fila pastry ( about 90g/3 oz)
120g (4oz) raisins or sultanas
120g (4oz) freshly shelled and chopped walnuts
1 litre (1 3/4 UK pints) milk
300 ml (1/2 UK pint) double cream
90 gr (3oz) sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 150C (300F) degrees
Spread the fila sheets loosely on a n oven tray. and bake for 15 minutes or until crisp and brown. Remove from the oven and increase oven temperature to 240C (474F) degrees.
Crumple fila into a baking dish, sprinkling sultanas and nuts in between layers. Here is how it will look before adding the milk.
In a saucepan on the top of the stove bring the milk , cream and sugar to the boil. Pour over the pastry. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Place dish in oven for 20 minutes or until the top is browned.
Claudia uses a mix of flaked almonds, chopped hazelnuts and pistachios. I had fresh walnuts in the pantry so used them. I think it would nice with lemon peel in addition to or in place of sultanas. This is real comfort food, ideal on a cold day. My cleaner was here when it came out of the oven this morning, and she's so slim I'm sure she's not a pudding person, but she had a bowl and loved it. This is one of those food finds that gets me excited. It uses left overs, is easy to make and tastes sensational.