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How to Make Moroccan Chicken Pastilla

If you haven’t ever tasted chicken pastilla, let today be the day that you do. This traditional Moroccan dish is a perfect combination of savory and sweet. A must-try dish.

Rabat – Pastilla is a delicious and unique dish, a crispy pie that combines sweet and salty flavors, it is often served at weddings and celebrations but can be cooked for a special family dinner.

The sweet-savoury meat stuffing is enveloped in a thin, crispy pastry called “warqa,” it can be bought in supermarkets as “feuilles de pastilla” or freshly made in the market. The same pastry is used for briwat. 

There are different forms of pastilla and the traditions vary from region to region. In coastal areas, for example, pastilla is more often made with seafood. Chicken and pigeon are also common fillings. Today we’re going to learn how to make my favorite – chicken and almond pastilla. 

It can be quite tricky to get it right, but I promise it’s well worth the effort.

Let’s start with the ingredients:

2kg of chicken cut into pieces

½ kg of onions, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of chopped parsley

½ tablespoon of chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon of ginger powder

1 teaspoon of  turmeric powder

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

2 tablespoon of brown sugar

A large pinch of saffron threads

1 tablespoon of salted butter

¼ cup of oil

½ kg warqa sheets (if you can’t get warqa, you can replace with filo pastry sheets.)

To prepare the almonds you will need:

500g boiled almonds – peeled – fried until  light golden and crushed

3 tablespoons of caramelized, condensed milk

1 tablespoon of  orange blossom sugar

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder

Now we’re ready to get started:

In a large pot, put the chopped onions in oil and add chicken, salted butter, spices, and garlic. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

Add water almost to the level of the chicken.

Cover the pot and when it comes to the boil, lower the heat to medium and keep stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the chicken pieces are cooked and the meat separates easily from the bones.

When the chicken is cooked, remove the pieces to a plate. Add brown sugar and cinnamon cook the sauce still in the pan until the onion is caramelized.

When the chicken is cold remove meat from bones and add into the pot to onion and mix well.

In a bowl, mix the crushed almonds condensed milk, cinnamon, and orange blossom sugar.

Grease the round mold with butter.

On the bottom of the dish, place 7 sheets of pastilla well-greased with butter (butter side up), overlapping them like the petals of a flower and leaving the overflow to the outside edges of the dish (about half of the sheet inside the flat, the other half to the outside).

Consolidate the bottom of the pastilla with 1 or 2 more sheets placed in the center of the mold.

Put a layer of the almond mixture on the sheets using the back of a spoon to spread it perfectly.

Put pieces of chicken and onions over the entire surface of the almonds in order to completely cover the mold.

Add a layer of almonds on the top.

Add another sheet of pastry on top then fold the layers of the pastilla pastry over the stuffing.

Arrange 3 new sheets on top and overlap to close the pastilla firmly.

Once the pastilla is closed, spread the yolk of an egg on the top.

Using a small wooden stick, like a toothpick, put some small holes on the top of pastilla.

Put the pastilla in a preheated oven for about 45 minutes (more or less depending on oven). The pastilla should be golden brown and crispy when cooked

When it is baked, leave to rest (about 5 minutes) then Sprinkle icing sugar over the entire surface 

Just before serving, sprinkle icing sugar or the surface of pastilla and decorate it with cinnamon and crushed fried almonds.