A Monday Morning Cooking Club Work In Progress: Moroccan Flaky Pies
My first taste of b’stilla was at a cooking class by talented Australian (of Lebanese descent) chef Greg Malouf. I remember the palm-sized flaky filo pie stuffed with spiced pigeon and toasted almonds, dredged with icing sugar and cinnamon. Crisp and soft, savoury, spiced and sweet, all at once. Oh what a joy! Call it what you will – bastilla – bisteeya – pastilla – it is a small round hand made filo pastry pie traditionally filled with spiced (think cinnamon, cumin, ginger, allspice and more) squab or pigeon. Toasted flaked almonds are often inside. Or quail, chicken and rabbit. The most intriguing and unusual part of the pie is that it is sprinkled with icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) and ground cinnamon. A sweet touch on a savoury pie. Yum!
My next and equally memorable b’stilla experience was on a recent trip to gorgeous Marrakech in Morocco where we found ourselves (after our first b’stilla) choosing restaurants based on whether or not they served b’stilla. We had an incredible one at Al Fassa (exotic, romantic setting sadly equals bad light, so no photo!) and a really great one at The Restaurant at the stunning, jaw-dropping Amanjena (see the ‘THEIRS’ pic). We just may have gone back for seconds and thirds.
I tried my hand at them this week, with limited success. Mine look ok. And they taste OK, but I think it is a work in progress. The recipe I found calls for dicing the chicken before cooking in spices. I’m not mad about the filling made that way – I prefer the chicken to be cooked first and then shredded or torn. Next time I will be trying this recipe from Greg Malouf as I know his recipes are always reliable in the hope I may still be able to master the b’stilla: B’Stilla with Rabbit. The ‘HIS’ photo below is taken from Greg’s recipe post and looks just beautiful with the stencilled sugared hand. Sigh…
It’s Let’s Lunch (#LetsLunch) time – the twitter-based virtual lunch club where anyone interested can join this monthly ‘lunch date’. A topic is posted at the beginning of the month, everyone taking a turn, and all recipes are posted on the same day by this random and fascinating group of food bloggers, writers and people who just love cooking from all around the world. All the wonderful posts from the other #letslunchers will appear at the bottom of this post in a couple of days.
This month’s topic (thanks Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is a dish “that you learned to love from traveling somewhere and maybe even learned to make it while on vacay”.
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