Bastilla

Ingredients

100g butter
2 brown onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5kg free-range chicken, cut into portions
5ml freshly ground black pepper
5ml white pepper
5ml ground ginger
5ml ground cumin
5ml toasted coriander seeds
1.25ml chilli powder
5ml turmeric
6 cardamom pods, lightly toasted, deseeded and ground
5ml saffron threads, soaked in a little hot water
a handful fresh coriander, chopped
a handful fresh parsley, chopped
500ml chicken stock
30ml castor sugar
10ml ground cinnamon
300g flaked almonds, lightly roasted
75g pine nuts, lightly roasted
13 sheets phyllo pastry
30ml good olive oil
icing sugar for dusting
My favourite Moroccan dish, Bastilla, is usually prepared with tender pigeon meat. There is something about the succulent and spicy meat and crispy, sweet pastry that is redolent of exotic, faraway places ... But I’ve adapted the recipe for chicken too, which is also good.

Instructions

1.Melt the butter in a large casserole dish and gently fry the onions in the butter until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chicken, black pepper, white pepper, ginger, cumin, coriander seeds, chilli, turmeric, cardamom, saffron, fresh coriander leaves and parsley. Top up with the chicken stock and bring to a slow simmer, covered, for about 1 hour or until the chicken is tender.
2.Remove the chicken from the casserole dish, allow to cool slightly before deboning and shredding the meat.
3.Meanwhile, reduce the juices until deliciously fragrant and saucy. Combine the shredded chicken with the sauce.
4.Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease a large springform cake tin.
5.Combine the castor sugar, cinnamon and almonds with the pine nuts in a bowl. Lightly brush a sheet of phyllo with olive oil, top with a second sheet and place in the cake tin to just cover the sides and base. Repeat this 5 times, arranging each double layer at a slight angle to form a fan-like pattern. Scatter half of the nut mixture over the last layer of phyllo, fill with the chicken mixture and scatter over the remaining nut mixture.
6.Place the last sheet of phyllo over the top of the filling, snuggly tucking the ends down the sides. Fold the overhanging pastry from the outside over the filled pastry, covering the filling completely. Brush the top of the bastilla lightly with olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden.
7.Turn the heat down to 180°C, cover the pie with baking paper and bake for another 5–10 minutes to make sure that the sides and base are properly browned.
8.Dust the bastilla with icing sugar and serve warm. If you like, you could heat a doublepronged fork in a flame and burn the icing sugar slightly for a pretty effect.

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