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Working with Fillo - Moroccan Pastilla in particular

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I just got back from a fabulous culinary tour in Morocco and wanted to try Bastilla for mom son's birthday. They say it's a special occasion dish so what the heck??

To start, Fillo is definitely NOT Warka!! The dough they use in Morocco to make Pastilla must have some gluten because it is stretchy and sure doesn't dry out as quickly .....while you are compiling the dish.

So I guess I need some advice on how to work with fillo in a round container. It would have been easier to lay out flat sheets of it in layers in a 9x12 pan but in this recipe, the excess that lays over the side of the round pan should be used to seal in the package from the bottom. Unfortunately, even though I worked quickly and brushed every layer with butter, by the time I was ready to "close the deal", the overlaying sides were all dried up. I hope the contents don't leak when it's baked.

Next,I have seen videos where the cook folds each sheet in half to double it. Is it necessary to butter in between the halves? Would not doing so cause a tough crust?

Lastly, I opened my package to find each sheet riddled with random slits, making it impossible to lift out one sheet at a time. Is this an anomaly and I received a defective package or do all fillo packages end up this way??

I would love to perfect this dish!

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  1. Welcome back. Morocco is one of my favorite places and foods and I'm glad you are attempting to make my most favorite Moroccan dish.

    You received a package of phyllo that is defective if it is riddled with slits like that. Sorry to hear that. :( Make sure you defrost it in the fridge overnight from frozen and not on the counter top. Also keep it covered with a slightly damp cloth as you quickly work with each sheet.

    I'm not sure where you live, but lately I have noticed warka available at some Middle Eastern markets if you want to make it more authentic. Also, to make things easier if you do end up using phyllo, I don't see why you couldn't just make the dish in a 9x13 pan and fold the overlapping sides under (like tucking it in around the sides) It would be a rectangle, but easier for you. That's what I do with spanikopita and it works great. Good luck!

    1. So.....it's kinda like childbirth.......
      once you meet the thing, you forget the pain you experienced getting there!
      Check out this awesomeness!!!

      And it tasted as good as it looked!!

       
      1 Reply
      1. re: MSK

        Wow--that looks fab! I hope there's a trip report in the Africa/Middle East section sometime in the future. I remember you mentioning this tour last year and I'd be excited to hear more :) Glad you enjoyed!