A traditional Moroccan dish, the pastilla combines sweet and savoury ingredients wrapped in several layers of paper thin pastry called warka or warqa. My version was not intended to grace the table of a celebratory event (as this dish will often find itself in Morocco), although it did look impressive enough (and tasted divine).
Traditionally made with chicken, I've chosen to make a vegetarian version using jackfruit. Although my ingredients and method are different, this recipe was inspired by and borrows from Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulocich's recipe for Chicken Pastilla in their book Honey & Co.
2 x 400g tins jackfruit, chopped into 2cm pieces
2 onions, finely sliced
100g pitted medjool dates, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped seeds removed.
2 tbsp ras el hanout
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
9 sheets of filo pastry
50g melted butter
Approx 200ml water
Take the filo pastry sheets out of the fridge two hours before you plan to use them (or as per the packet instructions) leaving them inside the plastic wrapper.
Heat the oven to 200 degrees / 180 degrees fan oven.
In a wide frying pan soften the onions for 7-8 minutes. Add the salt, chilli and spices and fry for a minute or two. Then add the jackfruit, dates, sultanas and water. Combine the ingredients mixing well and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for ten minutes or so.
Meanwhile prepare the filo case by melting the butter. Take a single sheet of pastry and brush with butter. Then fold in half. Brush and fold in half again giving you a smaller, thicker square. Set aside. Brush another sheet with butter and layer a second sheet on top so that you have a double layer. Repeat until you have four double layer sheets.
Using an 8 inch cake tin (or similar a dish) lay in one of the four sheets of filo pastry so that the edges hang over the sides of the tin. Place the folded square inside giving a thicker bottom layer. Then position the remaining three sheets so that one corner is the centre of the tin and the sheets fans out over the edge around the tin.
Strain off any remaining water from the jackfruit mixture and tip into the tin. Gently fold over the three sheets to wrap the pastilla and the fold up the bottom sheet. The mixture should be fully concealed within a well wrapped parcel. I wrapped mine to create a ruffled look.
Brush with the remaining butter and cook for 30 minutes until golden and crisp. Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulocich's recipe suggests turning your pastilla around after 15 minutes to ensure even cooking. Serve with the sides of your choice.