Chicken Bastilla for a North African Afternoon

Chicken Bastilla is a traditional Maghrebian pie filled with chicken, scrambled eggs and a crunchy layer of sweet cinnamon toasted almonds, all wrapped up in buttery phyllo pastry.

Boy are you in for a treat today: eyes and stomach! This chicken bastilla is THE DISH you must make for your next dinner party if you are looking for a guaranteed WOW factor! Even better, make it with your guest as it takes a couple of hours and there are many steps to keep people busy.

Don’t worry it is simple and the directions below are very clear. Open of a bottle of wine and make it with a group of friends. That is what I did with two fellow Montreal food bloggers as we prepared, and of course enjoyed, a 3-course North African meal together.

Chicken Bastilla

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Moroccan Tagine Berber

The ultimate fragrant Moroccan stew, a Tagine Berber is my idea of comfort food with aromatic meat served alongside big juicy pieces of vegetables.

It’s time for the MENA (Middle Eastern & North African) Cooking Group. This monthly group has for goal to help us discover the culture and cuisine of the countries found in these parts of the world. The host of the month will choose two savory and a sweet dish from the country and the members pick one dish to make. Get your camel ready as we are exploring Morocco this month with a traditional Tagine Berber.

Tagine Berber

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Bahraini Chicken Machboos

I have again a new monthly challenge group to introduce. This one is called MENA, or Middle Eastern & North African Cooking Group, which could not fall any closer to my blog’s topic interests. The goal is to learn more about the selected country, its food traditions and how to prepare the selected recipe. The host will choose a savory and a sweet dish from the country, you pick which one to make. For my first time participating we were assigned Bahrain and I chose to go with the Bahraini Chicken Machboos. Definitely a first for me.

Bahraini Chicken Machboos

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Express Harissa “Broth”

Harissa claims its roots are in Tunisian but it is very popular everywhere in Northern part of Africa. The key ingredients in a traditional harissa are bird’s eye chili peppers, serrano peppers and other hot chilis and spices such as garlic paste, coriander, red chili powder, caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil. Other options are of cumin, red peppers, garlic, coriander and lemon juice. It is a very adaptable recipe.

Of course recipes for harissa can vary greatly depending in which region you are in or even in who’s house you are eating it. Usually harissa has a paste like consistency which is added as a condiment to recipes like stews, spreads, sauces and cousous.

The version I will show you here is more like a broth consistency and is super fast to make. The flavors are very basic too so feel free to add garlic or coriander or what ever you like. Add it to a soup for a fiery kick or dip some torn pita in it. Let you imagination run wild. This recipe yields about 1/2 cup but feel free to multiply for larger quantities.

Ξ Express Harissa Ξ

1 1/2tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp bird’s eye chili powder (substitute with cayenne)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 cup water
juice of 1/2 lime or to taste

In a small pan add the paprika, the bird’s eye chili powder and the cumin. Add the water to the pan and mix well. Bring the mixture to the point of boiling but as soon as bubble appear remove it from the heat – boiling will damage the natural oil essences of the spices. Add fresh lime juice to taste and let cool before serving.

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