You can attend a cooking class (virtually or in person) at the Tel Aviv home of chef Aliya Fastman. Want to get a taste of the menu? Check out her recipe for pastilla. “It’s a Moroccan chicken pie, which is cooked in phyllo dough with cinnamon and a powdered sugar and caramelized onions and almonds,” she explained. “It actually blows people’s minds because you don’t expect the meeting of these two very distinct tastes. It’s great.”
Moroccan Pastilla Recipe
- 4 chicken thigh-leg pieces (amount varies depending on the size of pie desired- rule of thumb is one piece per person)
- 1/2 – 1 tbsp brown sugar (more if a sweeter pie is desired)
- Powdered sugar
- Generous amount of cinnamon
- 3 medium onions
- 1/2 – 1 inch ginger
- 1-2 tsp ras el-hanout
- 1-2 tsp cumin
- 1 clove garlic
- Large handful of almonds, peeled and blended or crushed into a chunky powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 package of phyllo dough
- Oil to brush in between layers
- Start cooking the chicken, skin side down to release its fat. (There’s no need to add extra oil.) Continue cooking until the chicken is half done at which time you will add in the onions until they are golden brown. Add spices at the end of this cooking process.
- When the chicken is cooked (or nearly), take it out of the pan and shred it with your fingers or two forks until you have fine long pieces. Add the chicken back into the pan with the now browned onions, spooning out excess oil that has collected from the chicken fat if relevant/desired. (You can use this to brush in between the layers of phyllo.) Mix together and continue cooking until the chicken is fully done. Add in blended almonds, garlic, ginger, spices and sugar. Taste and adjust the flavors to your liking.
- Next, crack both eggs to bind the mixture, mixing well and fast to avoid clumps. Cook for just a few seconds until the mixture is soft but not runny. (This is important as it binds the ingredients, but you don’t want it to moisten the phyllo dough too much.)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Layer the phyllo dough in a round pan (5-6 bottom layers), brushing oil lightly between each layer, letting the excess dough hang over the side. Add in the filling and layer the hanging side pieces on top, lightly brushing a small amount of oil in between. If you are making a big pie you can use extra sheets of phyllo to construct the top. Make sure to brush oil in between the layers and on top of the pie. Bake for 10-15 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Optional to broil on each side as well for a few minutes to get a crispier result (but careful not to burn!). When flipping, it is recommended to use a hot pad and flip the pie out onto a plate and then slide it back into the pan.
- When the pie is done, sprinkle with powdered sugar to finish.