October 20, 2014
At Home with Friends


Bastilla with Chicken

Bastilla is also called bisteeya, pastilla, b’stilla or bstilla.

This is the actual recipe I developed for my friend’s birthday years ago. It might look complicated but it’s basically 3 steps: Make the filling, assemble the bastilla, bake the bastilla. This is really quite doable for everyone.

I read many recipes before I created this one. None of the recipes I read said it could be prepared ahead and frozen. But that is what I do. None of the recipes I read said to prepare it in a spring form pan. But that’s what I do. It makes serving a breeze! I make the filling, assemble the bastilla, freeze it; then bake it just before the guests arrive. I’ve simplified the process but retained all the flavors and texture.

This recipe calls for dark meat of chicken (not pigeon, as done in Morocco). I usually buy raw chicken thighs with skin and bone, cook the thighs and then remove and chop the meat. I think the skin and bone give the chicken better flavor. You can certainly buy already prepared chicken thighs. The thighs (dark meat) have more flavor than the breasts (white meat). And this is closer in flavor to pigeon, or so I am told.

The preparation might be slightly Americanized but the taste is purely Moroccan.



EVENT: Moroccan Feast

SERVES: 10-12 as an Appetizer



2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 medium onion, chopped

2 ½ cups cooked dark chicken meat, diced (meat from approximately 5 thighs)

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup diced almonds (toasted)

¼ cup organic chicken stock *

3 eggs, beaten

½ cup finely chopped parsley

1 roll 8-oz. phyllo dough, thawed (approximately 20 sheets)

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

To serve

Confectioner’s sugar (optional)


8-9 inch spring form pan

Pastry brush


Prepare chicken thighs:

1. If you’re using raw thighs, place them in large pot. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken.

2. Cover the pot and bring it to a rolling boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low setting and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Time will depend on size of thighs.

3. Remove from heat and let it stand covered for approximately 30 minutes. Test for doneness: cut into thigh meat, it should not be pink.

4. Allow thighs to cool through. OR: Buy already cooked thighs.

5. Remove skin from thighs. Remove meat from bone and dice.

6. Set aside 2 ½ cups.

Make the filling:

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in large saute pan over medium heat.

  2. Add onions and sauté until translucent (approximately 10 minutes).

  3. Add diced chicken, ginger, turmeric, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, parsley and almonds. Combine thoroughly and add salt and pepper to taste. Set entire pan aside.

  4. In a small bowl, combine chicken broth and eggs until well blended.

  5. Pour egg mixture into a small non-stick pan and cook stirring, until mixture looks like loose scrambled eggs.

  6. Add to chicken mixture and combine thoroughly.

  7. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary.

Assemble bastilla: 

1. Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

2. Melt remaining butter.

3. Separate sheets of phyllo dough and keep them under a slightly damp towel. Brush the base and sides of spring form pan with melted butter and cover with a sheet of phyllo dough, allowing sides of the dough to hang over sides of the pan.

4. Depending on the size of phyllo sheets, you may be able to do this with one sheet or it may take several. For the one in the photos, I used smaller sheets. So, it took at least 5 overlapping sheets to make each layer.

5. Brush each layer with melted butter and sprinkle small amount of sugar / cinnamon mixture on top of each layer of phyllo dough. Repeat the process 2 more times. The goal is to have at least 3 layers of phyllo sheets. You need enough hanging over the sides, so it can be folded over to seal on top.

6. Spread cooled chicken mixture on the pastry and carefully fold the pastry over the filling, sealing the entire pie. Brush each one with melted butter.

7. Take extra phyllo sheets and shape into rosettes and place on top. Brush with melted butter.

Bake and serve:

  1. Bake for 45 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.

  2. Dust with extra cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar. **

  3. Remove sides of spring form pan and serve.


1. You can make this ahead.

2. If you do, don’t bake it! Wrap tight and freeze for up to 3 weeks.

3. Don’t thaw, bake from frozen at 350 degrees, for 45 minutes.

* A NOTE: I purchase the organic chicken stock at Costco, in bulk.

** ANOTHER NOTE: Don’t dust with cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar until right before serving!