Beauty and the Bisteeya

I went to the extremes recently. Like any other cook, I took a new turn, and took out a recipe that was not in my repertoire. Though Mediterranean recipes often excited me, this made me nervous. The ingredient list was so long, the procedures twice as tedious. Plus, it’s a flavor that I am not familiar with. It is a typical recipe of chicken in filo pastry, but the steps involved prevented me from further experimentation. Why I took on this task you may ask?

I wanted to get some bugs out of my system. For days I have been plagued with anxiety attacks, nervousness, and worries. Though worrying does not solve anything, I needed to get myself out of the rut of inactivity and make my hands do all the talking. I thought of making some baguette, the wrestling of the dough surely to take away the feeling of impending doom. But that was too short of a diversion. Then cinnamon rolls, then brownies, then apple pie. No go. I needed something that would be both entertaining and complicated enough for me to believe that I could still spread my flour and butter stained wings.

So the following is a recipe for a Moroccan chicken and almond in Filo pastry

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15 ml Olive oil
750 gr breast fillet, skinless and coarsley chopped
2 cloves of chopped garlic
20 g freshly grated ginger
1 long chili, deseeded and chopped
10 g cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp saffron
300 ml chicken stock
50 g toasted almonds
20 g confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50 g clarified butter
6 filo pastry sheets
1 egg
a bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

  1. Heat oil in pan over high heat. In batches, add the chicken and cook until toasted. Transfer to a bowl
  2. Add a bit more oil and saute onions and garlic until tender, not toasted. About 2 minutes. Add the ginger and chili and cook for 3 minutes more to let out the flavor and aroma.
  3. Add the chicken, cinnamon stick, saffron and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Take away from the heat and let cool
  4. Preheat oven 180C/375F
  5. Finely chop the toasted almonds and mix in a bowl with cinnamon and sugar.
  6. Grease a 9-inch pie pan with the clarified butter. Lay one sheet of the filo pastry on the pan, letting the edges hang over. Brush lightly with clarified butter, and sprinkle some of the cinnamon almond mixture. At a slight angle, lay another sheet of filo pastry and brush with butter. Sprinkle some more of the cinnamon almond mixture. Continue with the rest of the filo, laying a layer at an angle from the previous sheet
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  7. Add egg and the chopped coriander to the chicken mixture. Season to taste, then spoon the filling into the prepared filo lined pan. Bring the edges over the filling to enclose, then brush with the remaining butter.
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  8. Bake for 10-5 minutes until golden brown
  9. Sprinkle some confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon powder on top, then cut into wedges.
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It’s rich. It’s savory. The flavors are incredible. The kitchen smells incredible. Try this recipe. Let me know if you have any improvements. Please make suggestions by commenting. After all, I don’t do this everyday, and I would like some input on how to make it closer to perfection.

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