Basteeya. The word just sounds exotic. And delicious. Introduced by the Andalusians in the 15th century, I can only think that this pie has been improved upon over the centuries. Its savory taste warring with the sweetness of the crust is . . . indescribable.
I set Josh to the task of butchering a whole chicken (it was cheaper than buying breasts). Unfortunately, many expletives were heard coming from the kitchen as he tried to use my dull, dull, oh so dull knives.
The stuffing should be simmered for as long as your stomachs allow, as the smell will make them growl. The longer the time, the more infused it will be with flavor and although your stomach may protest at the length with growls and twisting, it will appreciate the wait in the end.
To distract our stomachs, we engaged our brains in a lively game of Scrabble. With much cheering from Josh, and scowls from Stelna, we managed to let the stew simmer - a feat, to say the least, as the smell filled all corners of my apartment.
Robbie is a true amateur photographer. Shouting instructions at us as he turned the camera one way and then another, snapping frantically.
Moroccan cuisine has been a diverse and complex for centuries, due to its position as a crossroad of civilizations. Persians inspired incorporating fruit into main dishes, the Arabs brought important spices to the region, Greeks and Romans used Morocco for growing wheat, the Moors inspired the use of pickling techniques and olives, while the colonizing French left not only a legacy of pastries, but also a cafe culture.
Enjoyed by all, my basteeya was a proud moment. The first time I've made Moroccan, but not the last.
Basteeya (Moroccan Chicken Pie)
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet at medium. Add onion and garlic and fry until caramalized, around 8 minutes. Add in the spices and continue to fry for one minute. Add the flour and fry for another minute. Add the broth, chicken, and prunes.Simmer for about 20 minutes. Shred the chicken and season as needed with salt and pepper. Leave in skillet and let cool.
2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grind almonds, sugar, salt and cinnamon together in a processor or mortar and pestle. Place a layer of the phyllo on the top of the chicken, brush it with butter and sprinkle about a tablespoon of the almond mix on it. Repeat this with all layers, making sure that the edges are folded so they can fit in the skillet. Drizzle butter on top, and sprinkle the rest of the almond mix on. Cut a few small holes in the top so steam can escape. Bake for around 40 minutes.
3. Pray. Eat. Enjoy. Spell basteeya on a scrabble board and beat all your friends.