Pastilla (Moroccan chicken pie) fuses together sweet and savoury notes to create a rustic-looking dish that’s unlike anything else. Aromatic and full of flavour, this recipe is one you don’t want to miss. After all, how often do you get to dust your lunch with icing sugar?
I feel like this is one of those amazing world foods that for whatever reason doesn’t get it’s due. The people of Morocco love it. It’s popular around North Africa too…but aside from that, it’s practically unknown.
And while that saddens me a little, there is a silver lining. The next time you have friends over, and you serve up a gorgeous pastilla, your friends will be in awe of your worldliness. You’re welcome.
Go ahead and use the information below to explain everything about Moroccan chicken pie to them while you’re at it. It’ll be our little secret.
What is pastilla/bastilla?
Pastilla (sometimes called bastilla) is a type of Moroccan pie. This recipe uses chicken as the main meat filling however, there are traditional variations that use rabbit or pigeon instead. The filling (chicken, almond, and egg) is wrapped in crispy pastry, and is usually served by itself as a main course.
Flavour-wise, the dish is a mix of sweet and savoury with warm notes coming from spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and garlic, and sweetness from icing sugar.
If you’d prefer, you can watch the Pastilla recipe video on Youtube.
- Chicken thighs
- Onion, finely sliced
- Fresh ginger
- Ground cinnamon
- White sugar
- Chicken stock
- Large eggs
- Sliced almonds
- Melted butter
- 10 phyllo sheets (sometimes marked as ‘filo pastry’)
- Sea Salt
- Black pepper
- Icing sugar
Preparation tips for Moroccan pastilla
Traditionally, pastilla is made using homemade warqa or warka dough. However, to save time and significant headache, we’re using store-bought phyllo. (See? I care about you.) However, even if we’re not making our dough from scratch, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when working with it.
The key to working with phyllo dough is to make sure you allow it to thaw properly. This is pretty easy, just put it on a table and wait a bit – once each layer separates easily, without sticking to other layers, the dough is ready to work with. (If you try to use it before its thawed, it has a tendency to break.)
I’ve seen recommendations online to thaw your phyllo in a microwave or quickly in the oven. I personally recommend not doing this.
Lastly, it’s usually worth paying the extra dollar or two to buy a good brand, and ideally a pack that is quite fresh (you can ensure this by buying from a bakery or from a large store that has a high product turnover).
As respects the chicken filling: I recommend using skinless, bone-in chicken thighs as they carry more flavour and moisture than the breasts. However it does take a moment more to remove the chicken from the bone once cooked. If you’re in a pinch, and all you have on hand is chicken breast, it will do. But bear in the mind that it’s just not as good as chicken thighs. #TeamThighs
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The easiest way to keep this recipe feeling new is to vary the spice profile. Generally speaking you don’t want to go crazy but adding turmeric or saffron (if you’re feeling fancy) is a lovely addition. Other very simple additions can include fresh parsley or fresh cilantro (chopped, of course!), or a touch of lemon juice.
If you’re feeling a little on the brave side, vegetables (such as chopped carrots or sweet onions) can be added. However, you do want to be careful to maintain the balance of sweet and savory flavor. (Though if you feel it gets too far to the savoury side of things, you can always add more confectioners sugar to your final dish!)
More recipes from around the world
Pastilla is just one example of the beauty of world cuisine. Here are a few more recipes with an international flavour that you’re sure to love:
- Cilbir – this Turkish breakfast is an incredibly elegant breakfast recipe that is always a hit.
- Kunafa – this Middle Eastern cheese pastry will change the way you think about dessert.
- Al Baik Chicken – this Saudi fried chicken is more than just food. It’s practically a devotion.
- Burnt Basque Cheesecake – the bad boy of cheesecake recipes. (It’s also Spanish.)
- Fluffy Japanese Pancakes – souffle pancakes to make you sing in the morning.
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You’ll need some sort of baking dish in which to make this recipe. Honestly, you don’t need anything fancy. This pie dish will work great. If you’ve already got cake tins or pie dish, you’re looking to use one that is 9 or 10 inches in diameter.
And that’s that. Tell me what you thought of this pastilla recipe in the comments below. If you happened to make it, share it with me on Instagram using the #chocolatesandchai!Buy me a coffee Print