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