Monday, June 13, 2011

Moroccan Bastilla

Recently my close friend, Taryn married Hicham. We have been real friends since about 8th grade (she will tell you some story about me snubbing her or something when we were younger I think!). I am very glad that Taryn found Hicham, and they have an incredible story that I think needs to be made into a movie, a book or something! Taryn did an amazing amount of work in planning her wedding in a very short time period. One of the highlights of the evening, besides the beautiful bride and groom getting married, was the food. Hicham is from Morocco and so there was an array of Mediterranean themed foods- hummus and pita bread, chicken kabobs, Greek salad, a rice dish with garbanzo beans (one of her co-workers made this in a cauldron over an open fire in his yard by the way). My favorite dish was the bisteeya (or bastilla- I found it spelled both ways). This is a traditional Moroccan meat pie with very unique flavors- I admit I had seconds it was so good and indescribable. It is a combination of chicken (traditionally made with squab apparently), eggs, phyllo dough, and almonds with some spices and sugar that bring it all together. I have never tasted anything like it and I knew that I would have to recreate it, at least so that Aaron could try it. I have literally probably thought about this dish almost weekly since her wedding, the flavor and memory was so ingrained in my mind. Taryn gave me two recipes and said the dish at the wedding was a combination of both. My final dish turned out better than I expected when making something totally new and tasted just like I remembered. Aaron liked it and we felt very cultured while eating it. Can't wait to go to Morocco with you someday Taryn and Hicham! Enjoy!

Adapted from Desert Candy and Cooking with Alia

1 tbsp grapeseed, canola or vegetable oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds chicken (dark meat would be the most tender- I used breasts and it was a little dry)
1/4 tsp tumeric powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ginger powder
salt and pepper
2 cups water
6 eggs
10 oz almonds, toasted
1/4-1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp butter, melted
Phyllo dough- approximately 14-16 sheets

Chicken Filling
1. Heat oil in a dutch oven or pot. Add onion and garlic and allow to soften. Add tumeric, parsely, ginger, salt, pepper, and cinnamon stick.
2. Add chicken to the pot, combine with spices and onion mixture and cook for about 5-8 minutes.
3. Add 2 cups of water, cover pot and allow to cook for about 30 minutes
4. Remove chicken from liquid (do not discard liquid), and allow to cool. Shred meat into small pieces.

Egg Filling
1. Add eggs to the leftover liquid from the chicken.
2. Decrease heat to medium low and stir eggs into the sauce. Allow liquid to evaporate and egg mixture to thicken-about 10-15 minutes until eggs are becoming dry.
3. Drain mixture over a fine mesh strainer so that eggs are very dry.

Almond Filling
1. Pulse almonds in a food processor with powdered sugar and cinnamon until almonds are crushed.

Prepare the Bastilla
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Rub the bottom of a springform pan with some of the melted butter. Layer 7-8 sheets of phyllo dough in the bottom of the pan, brushing each one with butter and allowing the edges to overhang the pan.
2. Sprinkle half of the almond mixture over the bottom of the pan. Top with shredded chicken, then top with the egg mixture and then finish with the rest of the almond mixture.
3. Fold overhanging phyllo over the top and cover with 7-8 more sheets of phyllo, brushing each one with butter and tucking edges into pan.
4. Bake for 20 minutes until top is golden. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes until pie is golden brown.
5. Slice and eat.


  1. Great job Laura! Hicham and I just read your post together--thanks for the sweet story. We love you guys!

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