In December, I travelled to Morocco for 10 days on a tour. It was a fantastic trip. I really loved Morocco. The scenery was beautiful and rugged, there is very interesting history and delicious food, especially lamb. This is all I really ask for in a holiday.
Morocco doesn’t have a wide and varied cuisine but the dishes there are very good. Pastilla is a Moroccan savoury pastry. It is traditionally filled with pigeon but more often I saw it on menus with chicken. The best pastilla I had was in Marrakesh at the Prince Patisserie – the chicken was so savoury and the pastry light. I spent my last night in Marrakesh walking around the Djamaa El Fna as the sun was setting listening to the call to prayer and eating this pastilla.
Hoping to recreate that delicious taste, PPLMguy kindly agreed to help make pastilla with me in February. PPLMguy found a recipe online that he liked of pastilla. We gathered together the ingredients, which were numerous, between us.
First, we created the spiced almonds. The almonds were fried in clarified butter (which luckily I had because I use ghee when I cook Indian food) and then tossed with sugar and cinnamon. This on its own tasted incredible and I kept sneaking a taste of the almonds. Then we fried onions, the spices and chicken in a pot. We used thighs for the chicken which was a good choice as thigh meat is cheap but very flavourable when it is stewed for a while.
After the chicken was done, it was removed and then the remaining liquids were left to thicken. Once the sauce was thick, we added in the beaten eggs. The chicken meat, now removed from the bone, was added back in and the entire mixture had to cool. Ideally this would be done ahead and the pastillas made later but as is our style, we were doing this all on one night. We put the mixture in the freezer.
PPLMguy, as usual, was great at preparing the phyllo packets. We cut the phyllo into strips, placed some chicken mixture and then sugared almonds at the top and then wrapped them into triangles. With PPLMguy’s coaching, I became skilled at this too so we could take turns.
I was used to eating pastilla that was a round circle in Morocco as a meal but what we prepared was more like an appetizer. We baked the pastille triangles and then removed from the oven.
The last step is important. The pastilla is sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. This last step is what makes pastilla so interesting giving it that combination of savoury and sweet. Judging by my tour group, you either love it for this or you don’t like it all.
PPLMguy liked it. It was nice to experience some of that magic of my last night in Morocco on a cold February night in Canada.