One of the great cuisines of the world, Moroccan cooking infused with subtle spices and intriguing flavour combinations. Influenced by Andalusian Spain, Arabia and France, Morocco’s cuisine is a delicious combination of mouthwatering flavours that make it unique.
We asked Chef Stephan Els from our Johannesburg campus to share a recipe for a Moroccan dish and he chose one of his all time favourites, Moroccan Pigeon Pastilla.
What makes the Pastilla different is that you have a very light pastry filled with amazing flavours and spices, lightly dusted with a little icing sugar.
Chef Stephan recommends using squab pigeons that are delicately flavoured. They are more expensive, however it’s worth paying that little bit extra.
- 150g butter
- 3 pigeons (or 2 medium-sized chicken legs, about 500g)
- 3 red onions, thinly sliced
- ½ bunch fresh coriander
- ½ bunch fresh parsley
- A pinch of saffron
- 1 tbsp. orange blossom honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 150g almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
- 6 eggs
- A splash of orange flower water
- 1kg large phyllo sheets or warka pastry
- 2 tbsp. icing sugar
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- In a wide saucepan melt 100g of the butter, then add the pigeons, onions, herbs tied in a bunch, saffron, honey and cinnamon stick. Cover with water, season well with salt and cook over a low heat for an hour.
- Remove pigeons and turn up the heat. Reduce the mixture while you remove the meat from the bones, shred it and add back into the pan. Discard the herbs and cook until the liquid is below the level of everything else. Add the chopped almonds.
- Break the eggs into a bowl and gently whisk, pour two thirds into the pigeon mixture and stir, cooking over a medium heat until little bits of cooked egg appear, Taste and add salt and honey to get it sweet, savory and exotic. Add a splash of orange flower water. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 150C/300F/Gas2.
- Melt the remaining butter in a small pan. Lay three sheets of phyllo pastry out on small side plates, and butter each sheet lightly with a pastry brush. Repeat to layer it three times, buttering the phyllo as you go.
- Using a slotted spoon, put a third of the pigeon mixture onto each of the phyllo piles, leaving the excess liquid behind. Then fold over the sides of the pastry to make a sealed round parcel. Paint each Pastilla with the remaining butter and last of the whisk egg to seal them.
- Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes until the phyllo is crisp and golden brown. Dust with a mixture of icing sugar and ground cinnamon and eat while hot.
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