Chicken Pastilla

Chicken Pastilla

Pastilla (Bestilla), also transliterated bastilla, bisteeya is a traditional Moroccan dish inherited from the Andalus during the Umayyad empire.The name of the pie comes from the Spanish word for pastilla. It is an elaborate meat pie traditionally made of squab or pigeon. As squabs are often hard to get, shredded chicken is more often used today. Pastilla can also use fish or offal as a filling. Pastilla is generally served as a starter at the beginning of special meals. It is a pie which combines sweet and salty flavours; a combination of crisp layers of the crêpe-like werqa dough (a thinner cousin of the phyllo dough), savory meat slow-cooked in broth and spices and shredded, and a crunchy layer of toasted and ground almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. The filling is made a day ahead, and is made by browning the meat pieces in oil. The pieces are cooked with, onion, coriander, and various spices. The sauce is then chilled, and after, thickened with beaten eggs. The flesh and skin from the bones is shredded and added to the sauce, and it is chilled overnight. In a round pizza pan, the first dough layer is added, and butter brushed onto it. The chicken and sauce mixture is added over the dough, two more sheets of pastry are added on top. It is then baked, sprinked with icing sugar, cinnamon powder and almonds.


Type of Dish Appetizer


  • 450 g (1 lb) Chicken
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 handful coriander leaves
  • 3 g (3/4 tsp) ginger powder
  • 3 g (3/4 tsp) turmeric powder
  • 10 g (3/4 Tbsp) smen (fermented butter) optional
  • 2 piece cinnamon sticks
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) chili powder
  • 10 ml (3/4 Tbsp) orange blossom water
  • 200 g (1/2 lb) werqa pastry (or phyllo or feuilles de brick)
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 3 large egg yolks (optional)
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) cinnamon powder (to garnish)
  • 60 g (2 oz) almond flakes (1/2 add to the filling & 1/2 to garnish)
  • 8 g (2 tsp) icing sugar (to garnish)


  1. Marinate chicken with onion, garlic, spices and olive oil for one hour.
  2. Add the chicken with all the marinade and butter to a thick based sauce pan. Cover with a tight fiting lid and cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for about an hour until the chicken is tender and falls off the bone.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a tray and leave to cool.
  4. leave the sauce in the pan and reduce over low heat until most of the liquid evaporates.
  5. As the sauce reduces pick the meat off the chicken and remove all the bones.
  6. Shred the chicken meat and mix with the reduced sauce.
  7. This step is optional. Add the 3 egg yolks to chicken and sauce mixture. Cook over low heat until the mixture thickens. This step by the way is included in most traditional recipes, however these days many people go for a lighter version and omit this step... as you like... up to you...
  8. Add the chopped coriander leaves and orange blossom water. Leave the mixture to cool.
  9. Wrap the mixture with the pastry. Brush the pastry a with a little melted butter.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes at 180C.
  11. Sprinkle toasted almond flakes, icing sugar and cinnamon over the top and serve.
  12. This Pastilla can be made in a large round shape or if you like you can make individual portions. You may also like to make mini sized pastilla that can be served as canapés.

Further Information

Yield 4

Preparation Time is approxmiately 30 minutes.

Cooking Time is approxmiately 30 minutes.

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