A complex, classic, and historical dish, bisteeya (bastilla, pastilla, it has numerous spellings) is simply delicious. A crisp filo shell encases chicken (or pigeon, traditionally) that has been simmered with warm spices like cinnamon and saffron, topped with sugar and crunchy almonds. Hearkening back to medieval days, when spices were precious, and the line between sweet and savory wasn’t so rigid, bisteeya feels simultaneously rich and comforting.
There are so many amazing recipes for Moroccan-style salads and vegetables, that we decided to make a meal out of them. Some are more authentic than others, but they’re all inspired by the ingredients of Morocco. Harissa, pomegranate molasses, ras-al-hanout, fennel and orange. Warm, welcoming flavors. Add some warm flatbread, dips, olives, and pickled vegetables to start.
Cooking this dish takes me back to my first days out of college, when I was big on culinary ambitions and short on cash. A good lamb tagine boasts humble ingredients and huge returns. A bag of onions, a nub of ginger, a can of tomatoes, and a few meaty neck bones will take you far: halfway across the world and all the way through the week.
A holiday rental is often “challenged” when it comes to kitchen gear, but with a bit of ingenuity, it’s possible to get the most out of a limited kitchen.
I’ve been hooked on harira from the first time I made it more than fifteen years ago. Spicy, rich, and satisfying, it’s a meal unto itself.
Ok, we have no idea if this is authentic or Moroccan or even a thing, but in our quest for fun family breakfast this sounded like a good idea. It’s basically an Israeli salad with hard boiled eggs chopped up and thrown in, and some yogurt to bind it all together. Serve on toast with a sprinkle of Zatar and you’re good.
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Here’s a relatively easy tagine that we made on a weeknight. We say relatively because we mistakenly thought we had ground lamb in the freezer, but it turned out to be a piece of boneless leg. So we actually ground the lamb ourselves in the food processor. This turned out to be a good thing because we incorporated all the other ingredients at the same time which resulted in super flavorful meatballs. The rest is easy, it’s a one pot meal with not too many ingredients and tons of flavor.
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I found these sweet kabob skewers at a middle eastern grocer in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. So naturally, grilled kefta had to be a dish for Food Explorer: Morocco. Spiced cauliflower roasted with olives and oranges, simple couscous and a drizzle of lemony tahini brought it all together.
We often do a Sunday night roast chicken. It’s fun to see how different cultures treat the same ingredient. It also provides leftovers for lunch during the week, and adds to our carcass collection for making stock. This recipe is a traditional Moroccan dish that uses classic ingredients from the region. It’s a bit labor intensive for roast chicken but the results are well worth the effort.
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Want to know a little more about Morocco? Located in North Africa and a quick trip to the Spanish coast, Morocco and its cuisine are decidedly Mediterranean in flavor, with staples like lamb and lentils, artichoke and eggplant, olives and citrus, cumin and ginger, a whole host of simple fresh salads and the ever-present couscous.
Morocco’s best-known dishes include many iterations of tagine and the much loved bisteeya. This last, a pastry-wrapped chicken or pigeon pie, comes dusted with sugar and fragrant with cinnamon. The savory sweet combo is a throwback to Roman, Medieval and early Renaissance cookery, when the line between dinner and dessert was not yet drawn and chefs across Europe spared no expense in spicing their food in the salty, sweet, and sour style no longer popular in the West but commonly seen across much of Asia today.
As always, we’ll be posting recipes every day. Cook along with us or share your own Moroccan recipes, and don’t forget to share the results at #fdxplrer on instagram or twitter.
We hope you join in the fun! Read on for some helpful resources.