36 Hour Birthday Chicken

Baraka Cafe has been on my restaurant checklist for quite some time, so when my friend’s birthday came up, I knew exactly where to celebrate. I was told by a few sources to order their Classical Bastilla Torte, a chicken dish that must be ordered 36 hours in advance. So, I called the restaurant, placed my order and waited… literally, for the next day and a half before my encounter with the chicken, I found myself wondering what cooking status it was in. 12 hours into the wait…was it still marinating? Or maybe it’s already wrapped in filo dough waiting for our arrival…
Brick walls, maps and tapestries set the mood for the culinary adventure we were about to explore. A woman,who I nicknamed ‘Loud Momma’, shouted some orders into the kitchen and showed us to our seats. Before we had time to take it all in, our server came and offered us Moroccan tea, which we all sipped as we marveled a little more.

Our starters introduced us to the unfamiliar flavors of North African cuisine. The intensely sweet Zaatar Coca (Berber bread served with carmelized onions, sage,thyme,sesame seeds and lemon juice) and the salty Teklia (marinated diced green olives with diced vegetables, mint, parsley and cilantro), both debuted the complex flavors of North African food that I was falling in love with. Our chicken finally arrived in all of its glory,wrapped in filo pastry which was layered with almonds, cinnamon, saffron, parsley, figs, mint, parsley and finished with an orange blossom infusion. Trust me, it was as tasty as it sounds! The dish was more sweet than savory but the sweetness complimented the layering flavors of the herbs in the dish. From cooking the chicken, preparing the egg stuffing, making the almond topping and assembling the Bastilla, I’m glad that I found a restaurant to do all this work for me. But more importantly, Baraka Cafe got the birthday girl’s stamp of approval. Mission accomplished.

Baraka Cafe
80 1/2 Pearl St. Cambridge, MA 02139

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