Pastilla, Bastila or B’Stilla, (as its called in different regions), is an exotic dish of Moroccan cuisine, succulently cooked squab or chicken, layered with eggs, lemon, spices and crushed almonds, wrapped in crisp pastry and dusted with aromatic Middle Eastern spices, should find its way to your dinner party!
Sometimes, you just have to make something exotic with everyday, ordinary ingredients. That is what Bastilla is!
Whether it’s holiday season, visits with family and friends, or it’s your birthday and you want to celebrate with a really special dinner party; this is the dish to serve!
Take heart, if you must prepare your own birthday meal yourself (as I have done often), because this dish can be completely prepped in advanced, and popped into the oven an hour or so before serving.
Most often known to be a dish from Morocco, it is said to be prepared in Egypt as well, though its origin is actually from Andalusia, hence the name (Spanish) which indicates it is made in a pastry.
Chicken or quail, though originally made from squab (pigeon), raised specifically for cooking, is the heart of this dish.
Layers of flavor, both sweet (cinnamon and sugar), and sour (lemon and coriander), encased in a crunchy, buttery pastry, makes this dish something very special.
It’s not difficult to prepare. It is best, though, to approach it in steps, one being to cook the chicken in advance, or simply use left-overs from a roasted, or boiled chicken. The rest comes together rather quickly.
Bastilla In Steps
- Chicken – simmering a pot of suggested herbs and spices
- Dry Filling – ground almonds and spices
- Wet Filling – eggs, lemon, orange blossom and chicken broth
- Pastry – phyllo dough and melted butter
Preparing The Chicken For Bastilla
While this is a great dish for leftover chicken you may already have, cooking particular flavors into the chicken would be advised to obtain the most traditional flavors.
Into a pot of boiling salted water, lay a whole chicken or cut-up parts of a chicken, along with sprigs of fresh marjoram, rosemary, a whole lemon cut into quarters, a whole garlic cut up and a cinnamon stick.
Once the chicken cooks and cools, you will have more than enough chicken to shred for this recipe. Save a cup of the broth for this recipe but don’t forget to strain and save the rest for a delicious soup or to cook rice in for a fabulous Morocco Rice.
Serving Bastilla For A Dinner Party
Every chef has their own idea of how they want to serve a meal for a dinner party; fine dining, casual family-style dining or tapas dining, in which many dishes are spread, as though for royalty, and guests enjoy Small Plate dining.
Pastilla can be prepared for any and all types of dining preferences. A large Pastilla pie can be sliced at the table and served, sliced in the kitchen and plated along with other items, or bite size Pastilla can be made.
While this dish is traditionally prepared in a large pan, turned upside down (once cooked), for presentation and served, I like to mix the ingredients of this Pastilla recipe, set the mixture in a few sheets of buttered phyllo and roll them into a small logs.
Once the logs are baked and cut at an angle, exposing all the luscious ingredients, a platter of the rolls can be served tapas style, replenishing the platter with more rolls kept warm in the oven.
What To Serve With Bastilla
Since I first encountered Pastilla, called Bastilla, with Egyptian friends of mine, I first made Bastilla served with the national dish of Egypt; Foul Mudammas, Egyptian Fava beans.
While you will find a huge variety of recipes for making Pastilla, depending on the region of the Middle East the recipe is coming from, you will find many variations of the recipe.
Many people like to put dried fruits inside the chicken when it is being baked, usually dried apricots. This was not my preferred way to make Pastilla however dried apricots are lovely served on the side, particularly tapas style.
Many recipes can also be found using the spice Ras el Hanout in their Pastilla, which then pairs beautifully with Moroccan Rice with dried fruits; however, I find this version of the spice blend to dominate and detract from the original recipe of Pastilla.
A mound of cooked, slightly crisp Green Beans, with colorful peppers tossed in lemon, olive oil and fresh herbs is also lovely and fresh!
A Tabbouleh salad, with lots of parsley in a lemon and olive oil dressing is also a lovely side dish to be served with Pastilla. It’s light, cleansing, aromatic flavor compliments the richness of the Pastilla.
- Cooked chicken
- Almond meal
- Aleppo pepper
- Chicken broth
- Lemon juice
- Orang blossom water
- Phyllo dough
- Powdered sugar
- Slivered almonds
- Springform pan
- Large boiling pot
- Mixing bowls
- Basting brush
- Small saucepan
- Wire whisk
- Stovetop or burner
Moroccan Bastilla Dinner PartyCourse: Meat, MediterraneanCuisine: Mediterranean
An exotic savory pie of chicken, eggs, lemon, spices and almonds wrapped in phyllo dough.
Cooked chicken – 3 cups
Almond meal – 2 cups
Salt – 1 tbsp
Coriander – 1 1/2 tbsp
Aleppo pepper – 1 tbsp (yep!)
Eggs – 6
Chicken broth – 1 cup
Lemon juice – 2 lemons
Garlic – 2 cloves, pressed
Orange blossom water – 1 1/2 tsp
Phyllo dough – 20 sheets
Butter – 12-16 tbsp (1-2 sticks)
Cinnamon – 4 tbsp
Powdered sugar – 2 tbsp
Slivered almonds – 1/4 cup
- Preheat oven to 350
- Melt the butter and set it aside on low.
- Prepare a spring-form pan or pie dish with a brush of butter.
- Mix the cinnamon and powdered sugar and set it aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the wet ingredients; eggs, broth, lemon juice, garlic and orange blossom. Set Aside
- In a different mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients; almond meal, 2 tbsp of cinnamon, salt, coriander and Aleppo pepper. Set aside.
- Working quickly with the phyllo and melted butter, line the spring-form pan, or pie dish with 10 layers of phyllo, brushing melted butter across each layer with overhang on the sides.
- Place half of the shredded chicken into the pan and smooth out. Sprinkle half of the dry ingredients across the chicken, followed by half of the wet ingredients.
- Repeat the layers of chicken, dry ingredients and wet ingredients. With a fork, gently press down these ingredients making them firmly packed together.
- Finish with the last 10 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing melted butter across each layer.
- Shape the edges and overhang just as you would any pie crust, using a little melted butter to form a nice finished edge.
- Sprinkle the powdered sugar and cinnamon mixture across the top of the pastry, followed by the slivered almonds.
- Bake for an hour. Cool slightly before slicing.