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.
A hand full of rice, and some pre-socked turmeric raisins and onions are added to the mix
...a dash of olive oil
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).
It is folded, thus...
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
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