January 12th, 2009


bastilla 10

just one week ago, i made a few new years resolutions, and baby, i intend to keep em!

poached chicken 3

bastilla (pronounced bas-tee-ya) is a moroccan dish that combines spicy and sweet chicken, almonds and scrambled eggs wrapped in phyllo dough and then dusted with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon. traditionally, it’s made with pigeon, but i went with chicken because american pigeon is so different from moroccan pigeon it wouldn’t have tasted very good in the first place. also, i wasn’t really in the mood to go pigeon hunting on the mean streets of dc.

chicken 4

what gives the chicken it’s awesome color is a combination of turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, parsley and cilantro. i can’t describe how delicious the apartment smelled when i was cooking.

making bastilla 1

you assemble the whole dish on layers of phyllo. what’s great about phyllo is that it’s so flaky and light. what sucks about phyllo dough is trying to get it to do anything you want it to do. every single piece of phyllo i unrolled fell apart in my hands like it was some ancient babylonian scroll. luckily, all you need is copious amounts of melted butter to repair it – no one will know.


bastilla 3

this dish normally takes a few hours to make from start to finish, but in all the hubbub of decorating it and taking pictures, it cooled before i could cut myself a slice. at the time, i didn’t actually know if i was supposed to eat it warm, so i just had a piece cold. to be honest, it was amazing cold. i still haven’t had it hot – i can’t wait long enough to heat it before digging in.

bastilla 8

i’ve been nervous about using different spice combinations in the past, but this recipe has helped things make more sense to me. i’m already dreaming of other things i want to make this week, like sweet and spicy chicken salad with grapes and red onion. mmmmmm…

bastilla 12


2 lbs chicken breast
3 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp fresh parsley
1 cinnamon stick
salt and pepper
6 eggs
2/3 cup almonds
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 pckg phyllo dough
2 Tbsp butter, melted
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. place chicken breasts in a large saucepan and pour in just enough broth to cover them. add the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cilantro, parsley, cinnamon stick and salt and pepper. bring to a boil and cook for about 30 minutes.

2. meanwhile, toast almonds with a few drops of vegetable oil, then mix in a food processor with sugar and 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon. set aside.

3. remove the chicken from the stock and set aside to cool. severely reduce the stock to a thick sauce. remove the cinnamon stick. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then cook in a skillet with 1/3 cup of the thickened broth/sauce. they should reach a scrambled egg consistency but should not be wet. set aside.

4. once the chicken has cooled, shred it (either by hand or with a few pulses in a food processor. add the shredded chicken to the egg mixture. make sure this mixture is not too wet or it will soak through the phyllo dough.

5. thaw the phyllo dough carefully. in a large cast iron (or other oven-proof) skillet or large round pan, layer 6 sheets of phylo, brushing each layer with melted butter. the sheets should drape over the sides of the pan. fold 2 sheets of phyllo in half and place in the center for stability.

6. place half of the almond mixture down in the middle of the pan, shape into a rough circle with your hands. lay the shredded chicken/egg mixture down. top with the remaining almond mixture. fold another 2 sheets of phyllo in half and place on top.

7. fold the overlapped phyllo from the bottom over the top of the bastilla. brush with melted butter to make sure everything sticks together. bake at 425 F for 20 minutes, until the phyllo is brown and crisp.

8. invert onto a large baking sheet. dust with confectioners’ sugar and decorate with remaining 1 Tbsp of ground cinnamon.

24 Comments for bastilla - why not leave some love?

  1. Adrienne says:

    Oh man, that looks wonderful! I had never even heard of b’stilla until you mentioned it as a culinary resolution, but once I went digging around for recipes I decided I need to make one, too. I bought phyllo this weekend and have grand plans for Thursday night.

  2. I am enjoying your recipes and the flair with which you present them, Pete. Thank you so much for your generosity. As a “pescatarian”- fish only from animal kingdom, would the bastilla work using salmon or some other swimmer?

  3. […] bake a bastilla bastilla is a traditional moroccan dish with layers of chicken, eggs, almonds and a ton of fragment spices like turmeric and ginger, wrapped in dough and topped with cinnamon and sugar. it’s been on my recipe list for months now. edit: i finished this one! check it out! […]

  4. Carrie says:

    Love your site! I’ve never heard of this dish, but it looks amazing. You’ve inspired me to try it out when I’m feeling ambitious.

  5. radish says:

    Pete, this looks stunning — not only is it one of my favorite things to eat, but it’s perfect for the season. good thinking in not hunting for pigeon in DC 🙂

  6. Alejandra says:

    This looks absolutely gorgeous! I’m so impressed that you made this at home. I’ve had it once at a restaurant and loved it.

  7. Y says:

    That looks truly delicious. I wonder how DC pigeon would have tasted in this! 😀

  8. Kevin says:

    This combination of sweet and savoury sounds really interesting. Bookmarked to try.

  9. Jesse says:

    This sounds unbelievable! I’ve heard of bastilla but never knew it was topped with powdered sugar. wow – I can’t even imagine it!

  10. Jaymi N. says:

    The first time I tried Bastilla was at this great little morroccan place in Sacramento and it’s been one of my favorite treats ever since, but when I moved to this tiny middle of nowhere place I couldn’t find any restaurants that served it so I was so psyched when my big brother sent me this recipe that I immediately went out, got the ingredients and made it myself and my god is it good! Thank you for posting such an awesome recipe!!

  11. PaniniKathy says:

    Wow, I’m so impressed you actually made one of these! I’ve eaten a few in Moroccan restaurants – they are so delicious and take such a lot of effort. Yours looks so tasty. Bravo!

  12. […] but there are times when i have to break out ingredients other than butter and sugar. the results? indulgent. full of […]

  13. Joy says:

    I want some, want it right now. But you’ve inspired me to make some of my own, so I won’t break into your place and just take it!

  14. […] use.  He has lots of nice color photos to show you how it should look at various stages.  You can click here to go see Pete and his Bastilla.  Isn’t he […]

  15. Mrsblocko says:

    I made this and wrote about it here: http://tomatoesforapples.blogspot.com/2010/02/welcome-to-morrocco-bama.html

    Thanks for breaking down the recipe so it didn’t seem so complicated. There were a lot of steps but it was fun to make and delicious to eat. It even got a thumbs up from a 4 year old, and that’s saying something!

  16. Amber says:

    I made this last night, and I loved it! It wasn’t as complicated as I thought it might be, though the filo pastry was annoyingly stubborn, and the kitchen smelled delicious all day 🙂 Thanks for the recipe, Pete 🙂

  17. mekness says:

    Great post. I’m searching for recipe of Tajine of lamb to artichokes. Has anybody heard of it?

  18. Sabrina says:

    This looks great! I have been looking for a bastilla recipe. Having lived in Morocco for 13 years, I crave eating it sometimes now that I am in DC. I am surprised you did not use any saffron though.

  19. […] (I would have used almonds if we had some). If you’re interested in trying the traditional dish, this one looks pretty good and has great reviews. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to […]

  20. I do trust all of the ideas you’ve introduced for your post They’re very convincing and will definitely work Still, the posts are very short for beginners May you please prolong them a bit from next time ? Thank you for the post.

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