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 cinnamon, ginger, and garlic, and sweetness from icing sugar.
If you’d prefer, you can watch the Pastilla recipe video on Youtube.
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 phyllo 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 chicken thighs as they carry more flavour and moisture than the breasts. 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
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!
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Pastilla (Moroccan Chicken Pie)
- Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
- Yield: 1 pastilla / bastilla (Moroccan chicken pie) 1x
- Diet: Halal
Pastilla (Moroccan Chicken Pie aka. bastilla) fuses together sweet and savoury to create a rustic-looking dish that’s aromatic and full of flavour. Plus, how often do you get to dust your lunch with icing sugar?
- 4 chicken thighs
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- Fresh ginger, finely chopped (about a 1-2 inch piece depending on your tastes)
- 1 tsp ground Cinnamon, + a little more for dusting
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 200ml chicken stock
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 100g sliced almonds
- Melted butter, for washing on to phyllo sheets
- 10 phyllo layers
- Sea Salt, for seasoning
- Black pepper, for seasoning
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- Oven to 300 degrees F
Prepare the filling
- Roast the chicken, seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper for 35 mins
- Chop up into small pieces
- Cook onion and ginger in a little olive oil. Stir in cinnamon and sugar.
- Add cooked chicken, season, pour in chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook till the stock is reduced by half. Stir in beaten eggs to thicken the mixture, and then add almonds.
Fill the pastilla
- Grease cake tin. Line with 4 sheets of phyllo crossed over one another, brush melted butter on to each sheet before laying it down. Add half the chicken mixture. Then add 4 more sheets of phyllo, each layer brushed with melted butter. Add remaining chicken mixture. Top with 2 sheets of phyllo, again brushed with melted butter. Fold sides in to close the pie, brush with butter.
Bake and serve
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven.
- Using a plate, carefully flip the pie back onto the baking sheet and then cook for 10-15 minutes upside down until golden. Remove from oven, turn back right-side up.
- Let cool. Dust with icing sugar, and a little cinnamon. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
- I recommend using store-bought phyllo…because phyllo from scratch is a bit fidgety.
- Make sure to stir in your eggs…don’t just plop them in, and leave them be. (You don’t want to end up with a wet, confused omelette wondering how it ended up in the middle of your pastilla.)
- When placing your phyllo, drape it over the baking dish, and gently push it down to the corners to avoid any tearing – it is a fickle, delicate, little pastry.
- If you’re someone that likes to experiment a bit, switching out the almonds for pistachios is a way to change the flavour profile without doing any extra work.
- When it comes to dusting, I tend to go with more icing sugar, and less cinnamon – feel free to do whatever suits your tastes!
- I typically use a 9 or 10 inch baking dish to make this recipe.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Category: Main Courses
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Moroccan
Keywords: pastilla, bastilla, moroccan chicken pie
I’m so glad you posted this! My husband and I visited Morocco almost 22 years ago, where we tried this wonderful dish. Just looking at your photos makes me feel good! I can’t wait to make it! Thanks bestie!
Awww, thank you for such a warm comment. I’m so glad I was able to remind you of your wonderful holiday (especially during this time!). I hope you try this recipe soon, and that it lives up to your memories!
Thanks for reminding me about pastilla/bastilla. I’ve ordered this from a local restaurant a few times now. The first time I didn’t even know what it was but it sounded interesting. Turned out I loved it but I thought it would be hard to make. Now I know from you it sounds pretty doable! I pinned your recipe so I can give it a try later.
But for today, I’m going to order for dinner to support the local restaurant. Restaurants need all the help they can get right now!
Yes! Pastilla/Bastilla is totally do-able. I’m so glad you saw this recipe, and I hope you enjoy it when you do get around to trying it! (I agree, we have to support our local industries as much as we can in this trying times. And thank you for doing your part in that 🙂 )
This Chicken Pie is so delicious and comforting! Love all the flavors and made the best dinner!
Hey Kathryn! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed it!!!
Oh my goodness – this is gorgeous and soooo intriguing! (And luckily I don’t have to search out some rabbit or pigeon at the local grocery to make it LOL!) The background info just adds to the allure … plus (like you said) the thrill of dusting my lunch with sugar! What a lovely post – thank you!
Thank YOU Shelley for visiting, and I hope you make this recipe soon!!