Ishay Govender-Ypma’s Moroccan chicken pastilla

"A Moroccan pastilla is unique in that it is both savoury and enhanced with sweet, in the form of icing sugar, honey and orange blossom water," says food and travel writer Ishay Govender-Ypma. "Despite my initial reservations, it is a spectacularly scrumptious combination."


4 chicken breasts
4 strands saffron
3 slices (1/2 cm thick) ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves
40 g butter
1 super finely diced red onion
1/2 cinnamon stick
4 whisked extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons orange blossom water (optional, but recommended)
30 g flaked almonds
to taste, honey
10-12 sheets phyllo pastry
melted butter for brushing


Bring 2 cups of water to boil, add chicken breasts, saffron, ginger, parsley, coriander, butter, onion and cinnamon. Lower heat and allow to simmer for an hour or more, until the meat is tender and starts to shred when pulled with a fork. Top up with water if needed.

When all the water is absorbed, add almonds and turn to lowest heat setting. Add 3/4 of the whisked eggs slowly, beat with fork. Season with salt and honey to taste and allow to cool.

Butter 5–6 phyllo pastry sheets with a pastry brush and stack neatly one on top of the other. Use a sharp knife to slice the pastry sheets in half widthwise.

Add 1/4 of the shredded chicken to the halved pastry and form into a round using your hands. Lift one corner up, brush with egg wash and press over the chicken mixture and continue until you have a roughly round pastry pie. Tuck the loose ends under one side and place the smooth, seamless side up. Brush this side with egg wash.

Tip: cut of a litte extra pastry for a smoother, less bulky result but make sure you seal the pie well.

Repeat with remaining phyllo and place the pies on a greased baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius 8. When ready, dust with icing sugar. Serve with orange blossom water on the side.

Serve warm.

Recipe courtesy of food and travel writer Ishay Govender-Ypma of Food and the Fabulous

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