Pastil: versatile one dish meal
Of Muslim Filipinos
By Apolinario Villalobos
If you have ventured into a Muslim community, you may notice a delicacy neatly wrapped in a banana leaf. It is called “pastil”, a special kind of rice with a spoonful of viand on top– either fish or chicken. While the fish takes a shorter time to cook, the shredded chicken takes more, for as long as two to three hours to ensure its softness. The fish is flavored with “palapa”, a hot chili and shallot- based condiment, while the chicken is cooked in its own oil enhanced with a small amount of coconut or vegetable oil, toasted garlic, and with shallot and hot chili as optional ingredients.
In Manila, the place to go for this one-dish meal is the Islamic Center in Quiapo. While it can be partaken as is, some prefer to have other dish to go with it. At the Islamic Center’s halal carinderias and sidewalk eateries, the choices for other main dishes are chunks of young jackfruit cooked in coconut milk, red beans in coconut milk, broiled tuna, mudfish or tilapia, boiled eggs, stir-fried vegetables in herbs, and chicken cooked in thick coconut milk.
For dessert, one can have the Muslim version of “fruit salad” which is a soupy combination of gelatin and fruits in season flavored with milk and sweetened with brown sugar. It is different from the “dry” version of fruit salad which is topped with ice cream and shaved ice.
Variably, “pastil” is also called “patil” in other parts of Muslim Mindanao, and the preparation varies according to the added spice or condiment. The price however, does not vary, as the price is fixed at ten pesos per wrap.