R’fissa (kataifi-wrapped Morrocan chicken)

9 April, 2017






2 chicken marylands
50 g fenugreek seeds
265 ml olive oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
100 g green lentils
200 g (1 cup) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, simmered until tender, drained
1 litre saffron stock (see note)
1 handful coriander leaves, chopped
375 g kataifi pastry (see note)
125 g clarified butter or ghee, melted
6 baby radishes, trimmed
1 handful frisee leaves
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and broken
harissa, to serve


1 tsp ground turmeric
3 tsp ground ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
pinch of saffron powder
pinch each of sea salt and ground black pepper

Cook’s notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 3 hours or overnight

You will need to begin this recipe one day ahead.

To make the marinade, place all the ingredients in a bowl and combine well. Add enough water to make a thick paste. Add the chicken marylands and rub the marinade all over. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight if time permits.

Meanwhile, place the fenugreek seeds in a small bowl and pour over enough warm water to cover. Soak for 3 hours, then drain.

Heat 80 ml ( cup) olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, for 10-15 minutes or until well caramelised. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides. Return the onions to pan, add the fenugreek, lentils, chickpeas, saffron stock and the remaining olive oil. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes or until the meat is nearly falling off the bone. Remove from the heat and remove the chicken from the pan. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken meat, discarding the skin and bones. Place the meat in a bowl, add the coriander and enough sauce from the pan to moisten well. Reserve the remaining sauce.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Divide the kataifi pastry into 6, then shape the strands into rectangles about 8 cm x 12 cm. Brush the top of the pastry with clarified butter.  Place a heaped ¼ cup of chicken mixture at one end of each length of pastry and roll up and place, seam-side down in a baking dish, leaving small gaps between each roll. Spoon some sauce around and in between the rolls, then bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

Just before the kataifi is ready, place the baby radish, frisee and broken eggs in a bowl. Add a large spoonful of the cooled chickpea and lentil sauce to combine and moisten, then add a little harissa to taste. Serve the kataifi immediately with the salad, an extra spoonful of chickpea and lentil sauce and some harissa passed separately.


To make the saffron stock, dissolve a pinch of saffron powder and saffron threads in 1 litre of boiling water. To get the most flavour out of your saffron threads, dry toast them in a small frying pan before adding to the water.

Kataifi pastry is also known as shredded or bird’s nest pastry. It is typically used to make sweet, syrup-soaked sweets such as baklava. It is available from the refrigerated section of large supermarkets or Middle Eastern food shops.


For more tastes and flavours from the Middle East explore the spices available on our SHOP

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