A Month in Marrakesh
David Loftus

Known as ‘poor man’s bisteeya’, this satisfying dish can also be made with torn pieces of fried warkha pastry or grilled Arab-style flatbread (if you don’t have time to make the pancakes). There is also a popular version where the pancakes are stuffed with filling.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
garlic, thinly sliced
1.5kg chicken, jointed into 6 pieces
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
cold water
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
150g lentils


Quantity Ingredient
450g plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
300ml lukewarm water
olive oil, for frying

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
fresh mint, roughly chopped
fresh coriander, roughly chopped


  1. Heat half the olive oil and butter in a casserole dish, or tagine, over a medium heat, then add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5–7 minutes until softened. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions and garlic to a bowl.
  2. Add the chicken pieces to the casserole dish and sauté for 5–7 minutes until browned. Return the onions and garlic to the casserole dish. Add the ginger, saffron, cinnamon, turmeric and enough water to just cover the mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer, covered, over a low heat for 1 hour. Take the lid off, add lentils and cook for a further 20–30 minutes, or until the chicken and lentils are tender, onions are almost melted and the sauce thickened.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the pancakes, place the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, add about 300ml lukewarm water (or more if needed) and knead into a smooth elastic dough, folding the dough vigorously in from the sides as you knead.
  4. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface, and continue to knead for about 15–20 minutes, or until the dough is soft and elastic. Lightly oil your hands and roll the dough in your hands until it is greased all over. Divide the dough into sixteen small balls, making sure each dough ball is well oiled. Place one of the balls on the work surface and carefully stretch and pull it out with oiled hands to make a thin pancake.
  5. Heat a large cast iron frying pan over high heat. Carefully transfer the pancake into the pan and cook for about 2–3 minutes, turning the pancake once, or until it begins to blister and brown.
  6. To serve, place the pancakes on a large platter, roughly tearing them a little with your hands. Place the chicken mixture on top, spooning any extra sauce over, and sprinkle with mint and coriander if desired.
North African
A Month in Marrakesh
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