Return to Main Recipes Page/Return to Home Page

Bastilla (M, TNT)
Source: Chef Daniel Avurto of Mamounia in Beverly Hills
Serves: 6-8 as an appetizer

1/2 chicken
1 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 cup chopped cilantro
6 eggs
1/2 lb. almonds
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 large sheets phyllo pastry dough (get it in your grocer's freezer)
1/4 cup melted margarine or mild vegetable oil

For Garnish:
confectioners' sugar
Additional cinnamon

Boil chicken in enough water to keep covered along with the chopped onion and spices until cooked, about 30 minutes. Drain chicken, reserving about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid. Bone the chicken and cut the meat into small pieces.

Cook eggs, along with 1/4 to 1/3 cup reserved cooking liquid from chicken in a large skillet until soft scrambled, do not overcook the eggs. Mix cooked eggs with chicken meat until well combined.

Process almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor until almonds are crushed. The above three steps can be done ahead of time, if desired. Refrigerate ingredients until ready to cook.

Phyllo dough can be a little tricky to work with. For best results, thaw completely. It's important to keep the dough you are going to work with wrapped in a slightly damp kitchen towel, as the dough dries out very quickly and becomes fragile and breaks apart. To prepare for the recipe, Chef Daniel separated two large sheets of dough, folded each sheet in half, then in half again and wrapped them in a damp towel.

Now you're ready to assemble the dish. Brush an oven-proof skillet with melted margarine or mild vegetable oil. Unfold layer a phyllo pastry a little more than halfway across the skillet, followed by another layer of dough over the other half, overlapping the two pieces in the middle. Spread about 1/3 cup of the crushed almond mixture over the bottom of the dough followed by the chicken egg mixture, followed by another layer of almonds. Carefully fold over the phyllo dough on all sides, then brush the top of the pastry with melted margarine or mild vegetable oil.

Bake the bastilla in a 350°F oven for about 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Carefully turn skillet upside-down on plate to remove bastilla.

Sift a heavy layer of confectioners' sugar over the Bastilla. Pinching cinnamon between your fingers, draw a crisscross pattern of cinnamon over the layer of confectioners' sugar. Take a paper towel and wipe away excess sugar from the edges of the plate. Serve immediately.

Poster's Notes:
Ruth Baks says:
It is an extraordinary dish which is traditionally served in Morocco at every celebration. I have also seen it spelled: bisteeya, b'steeya, bistilla, or basteela; it is pronounced: 'pasteeya.'

This is a Moroccan national masterpiece, and the authentic dish is prepared from pigeons, although outside of Morocco chicken is often substituted. The intriguing combination of sweet, sour and savory is thought to have originated in Persia, over 1000 years ago.

In Morocco, a paper-thin pastry is used called warkah; from scratch, preparation for this elaborate dish can take two days!

Filo works well, and is easier to obtain, ditto for chicken. To experience the real high notes, add 4 tbsp. orange-blossom or rose water to the almond filling.

Posted by Susan Greene

Nutritional Info Per Serving: N/A