#SpicyChat Travels to the Exotic Land of Morocco: Aromatic & Spiced Chicken & Wild Rice Pie!

I am bit of a stickler for organization especially when it comes to my kitchen. And to be honest, I abhor wasting food or resources. Yesterday, I had to compile a photo shoot and blog post for the next #SpicyChat session on twitter. Since I was already using the oven for one dish, I figured why not make a meal out of it too. After all, it takes time to preheat the oven and being the diva of multi-tasking, it seemed like a great idea while the cake was being baked to use the time to prep for our family dinner.

My quest for variety took me to the Land of Morocco this time.  I find Moroccan cuisine uses similar spices as in Indian cuisine. Plus, like India, Morocco is an exciting and colorful land and that is true of its cuisine, as well.  There are so many fabulous flavors, colors, and textures. So, I modified the recipe to infuse some Indian spices which suits our spicy palate. The result – another #SpicyChat winner. This fusion one pot meal is sure to tantalize your senses with the savory, spicy, & hint of sweetness flavors. Not only is it simple to make, since the ingredients are baked it is healthy,  highlighting only the aromatic spices.

 

Bisteeya – Chicken & Wild Rice Pie

Bisteeya also called Pastilla or Pigeon pie is a festive traditional Moroccan dish. It’s an elaborate phyllo based savory and sweet meat pie, traditionally made of squab. This is a quicker and simpler version similar to the grand Pastilla flavors. One could always substitute the meat for your preference of poultry or like myself, make it vegetarian when my mom visits. Since my family prefers savory to sweet flavors more, especially for meals, I have created a spicier version rather than the typical sweet/savory fare.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups wild-rice blend, rinsed well
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
  • 1 cornish hen chopped or 4 portebello mushrooms, sliced
  • Clarified butter (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 pinches of cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or spicy red chili powder
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 lb phyllo dough in sheets, thawed if frozen
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Bring the rice and water to boil. When the water is nearly evaporated, cover the lid and switch off the gas. After 5 minutes, fluff the rice.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side down on a baking sheet. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Make a paste with 2 tbs clarified butter, salt, pepper, & 1 tsp smoked paprika. Rub chicken pieces with the paste and add them to the baking sheet with tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes. Peel the tomatoes when they are cool.
  5. While the tomatoes and chicken are getting baked, sauté onions, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown.
  6. Add the cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and garam masala and cook for additional two minutes.. Remove from the heat.
  7.  Add the cooked rice, golden raisins,  and dried apricots and season with salt and pepper. Stir in half of the chicken and 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley.
  8. Spray a 9-inch springform cake pan generously with olive oil.
  9. Divide the phyllo dough sheets in two pars. Layer one portion of the phyllo dough on a work surface, turning each successive one a quarter turn so that the stack forms a large round. Spray the top layer with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets, spraying the last sheet with olive oil. Fit the phyllo stack into the prepared cake pan, pressing it into the corners. Scatter 1 tablespoon of the parsley over the bottom.
  10. Gently pack the rice mixture into the cake pan and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Top the rice mixture with the remaining chicken and the tomatoes. Pour the beaten eggs evenly over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the torte with the chopped almonds and the remaining 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, trim the phyllo overhang to about 1/4 inch.
  11. Bake the rice torte on the bottom rack of the oven for about 1 hour.
  12.  Let the rice torte cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the ring and slide the torte onto a large serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve.

Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine.

Have you traveled to Morocco or any other country with a plethora of exotic spices? Somehow, I feel I can recreate memories of our travels by cooking dishes inspired and discovered by those trips within bounds of my kitchen. What are some of our favorite travel memories? I would love to hear from you. Until next time, good eating!!

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3 Comments

  1. I have always wanted to visit Morocco! In the meantime, instead of buying travel books, I bought some beautiful recipe books :). The most memorable trip, flavourfully speaking, would be Costa Rica. It’s where I discovered ceviche, and cemented my love of cilantro!

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