Making B'stilla (P'stilla) ~ Photo Essay

The View from Fez has had the pleasure in the last few weeks of hosting legendary young Australian chef Katerina Annels. While in Fez we sent her out on assignment to discover the traditional way to make b'stilla. This is one of the signature dishes of Morocco and as Katerina reports it is relatively simple to make. Here is her report and her photographs.

While in Fez I have discovered warika, a paper thin bread used for both savouries and sweets. Somewhat like filo ( if you use a few layers) - this stuff is fantastic! Experimenting with ways to use warika (do i feel another article coming on?) I have decided that I like it better then filo, as it gives a beautiful crisp golden exterior when baked. Yum

Imagine my delight when Thami, from Thami's restaurant, on learning of my quest to find alternative uses of warika, offered to show me the process of making traditional P'stilla.

Warika and almonds ready for p'stilla

I arive early in the morning, Thami is out shoping, buying everthing fresh for that day. Hasania is in the kitchen preparing the vegetable dishes, (before the meat arives). When Thami comes back from shoping I am greated with a smile, a tour of the kitchen, a taste of everything that going (cooked or not) and a big bag of spices, 'so I can cook good Moroccan food at home'. Next I am dragged down the street, sat down and given a bowl of heated preserved camel meat with eggs. Before I can take more than a bite (suprisingly eddible) I am whisked back up the street again. All the niceties taken care of, we are ready to begin making the p'stilla

A small handfull of almonds is ground down to crumbs in an old brass mortar and pestle.

A hand full of rice, and some pre-socked turmeric raisins and onions are added to the mix

...a dash of olive oil

Half an onion, finely chopped, a big pinch of cinamon, a tablespoon of icing-sugar

Some sauce from the vegetable tagine bubbling in the corner is added (water would do) and then an egg

Mixed together and fried on the flat grill. I guess that the chicken would be added here, for some reason, my limited language skills cannot discover, we are making one with out chicken, or more traditionally pigeon.

Part of the joy of this cooking lesson was the way in which Thami approached everything with a joyful party atmosphere (something severely missing in most Australian kitchens).

Three or four sheets of warika are chosen.

placed over a plate

and filled with the cooked mixture

It is folded, thus...

... and thus!

until you have a neat parcel.

Then it's ready for the oven or the pan. We have done this in the oven and it works just as well.

Deep fried in hot oil till golden. The warika also protects the filling from soaking in the oil far more effectively then any other pastry I have found.

The hot p'stilla is dusted with icing-sugar

and decorated with cinnamon



Soft and crispy, sweet and savoury, spiced and simple, this dish brings it all together. If your looking to try it, I recommend tapping off the excess icing sugar before tucking in to this wonderful dish.

Photos: Sandy McCutcheon

Return to The View from Fez


1 comment:

-zs- said...

where's Thami?