A Fearless Guide to Food and Travel

Eeeek!  The week got away from me and I didn’t get a chance to try Dorie’s recipe for b’stila.  So I guess that means I will just have to share my own!  I was really looking forward to this week since it is a Moroccan recipe. I’m guessing it would up in the cookbook due to the French connection to Morocco.  But this is a Moroccan dish – very unique to the country.  Traditionally it is made with pigeon but I’ve been unable to actually get one made of pigeon when I’m visiting.

This is favorite of mine.  My sister-in-laws always make sure to have this once or twice when I’m visiting.  There’s always tastes the best which I’m sure is part skill and part the right ingredients!  This is made with a dough called ourka (work-a) that is a bit thicker than filo dough.  You can sometimes pick  it up in Middle Eastern markets but if not filo dough works too. This recipe is a bit different than the traditional recipe (esp the chicken – I don’t like dark meat).

Filling –
2T veg oil (I use olive)
1 onion finely chopped
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
¼ C minced fresh flat leaf parsley
2 T minced fresh cilantro (I use a bit more)
¼ t ground turmeric
8 threads saffron, crushed
1 C water
1 t ground ginger
1¼ t ground cinnamon
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 t salt
½ t pepper
⅔ C powdered sugar

Almond mixture –
½ C whole blanched almonds (I used split almonds)
½ C powdered sugar
1 t ground cinnamon

12 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
1 C (2 sticks) butter, melted (I completely skip this and used spray butter stuff)
ground cinnamon and powdered sugar for garnish

  • In a large saucepan over med heat, heat the oil. Saute’ onion until golden (6-8 min). Add chicken, parsley, cilantro, turmeric, saffron, water, ginger, & cinnamon. Cover & cook until the chicken is tender (20-25 min).
  • Transfer chicken to a bowl or plate and set aside to cool. Let the sauce continue to simmer in the pan and add the beaten eggs, salt, pepper, & sugar. Stir constantly until the eggs are scrambled. Shred the chicken & add it to the egg mixture. Set aside.
Almond mixture:
  • In a blender or food processor, coarsely grind the almonds and mix w/ sugar & cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Remove 12 sheets of phyllo from the pkg and re wrap the remaining phyllo in its original wrap. Refrigerate for future use.
  • Stack the 12 sheets on a work surface and cover w/ a damp towel. Spray a little butter on a pizza pan or baking sheet.
  • Layer 3 sheets of phyllo, lightly spraying each layer w/ butter.
  • Sprinkle the 3rd sheet evenly w/ ½ of the almond mixture. Layer & butter 3 more sheets. Spread the chicken mixture evenly over the top, leaving a 1½” border of phyllo.
  • Fold over the edges to partially cover the chicken mixture. Layer & butter 3 more sheets over the chicken, sprinkling the remaining almond mixture evenly over the top.
  • Layer & butter the last 3 sheets of phyllo over the almond mixture. Tuck the edges of the last 6 sheets under the b’stilla as you would a bed sheet (@ this point, I take another baking sheet and place it on top, then flip it over & seal the last 6 sheets of phyllo from bottom to top)

  • Bake the b’stilla until golden brown (20-25 min).
  • Place the powdered sugar in a fine-meshed sieve. Tap the sides of the sieve to cover the surface of the b’stilla lightly and; evenly w/ sugar.
  • Using thumb & forefinger, sprinkle ground cinnamon over the top (most people make patterns, I just lightly dust it). Serve immediately, before pastry becomes soggy.
This is the only picture I have of my bstila!  Another reason why I need to make it again so that I can document it better!

**It took me a long time to finally make this b/c I thought it would be a really daunting task. It’s not – it’s a lot of steps, but it’s really easy and didn’t take as long as I thought.
Note: These can be prepared in advance and frozen uncooked in aluminum foil. It will keep up to 2 months in the freezer. No need to thaw before baking, but bake for 10 min extra if frozen.
**This makes about a 10″ pie and easily serves 4 average plates.

I’m determined to make Dorie’s bstila for comparison but in the meantime check out some other posts here.

A few that I liked;
My Baking Heart
Frozen Plumb
French Whisk

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Amanda Mouttaki

Curious world traveling, mom of two busy boys, foodie at heart, addicted to social media and lover of all things Moroccan.

  • onewetfoot

    February 4, 2011 #1 Author

    I'm a little bit glad that you missed out on the FFwD version, because I love seeing family recipes. Thanks for sharing yours. I'm looking forward to seeing the seafood version, too.


  • Amanda

    February 2, 2011 #2 Author

    Ladies – thanks so much for stopping by! I am so happy I decided to do FFWD because I've gotten to find all of your great blogs!! This is one of my very favorite dishes — did you know there is a seafood version too? I'll have to make it soon and let you know!


  • Allison

    January 31, 2011 #3 Author

    Amanda! I'm so glad you liked my post! I had actually thought you'd be horrified at my whining about raisins and skipping out on the sugar topping! Thanks lady! Prior to reading yours I'd awarded you a Stylish Blogger Award on my blog. Play along as you like. You rock sista!


  • Kris’ Kitchen

    January 30, 2011 #4 Author

    I just had to read your post on this one…and you did a great write-up as I knew you would. And I was quite interested in "powdered sugar" but after making this dish nothing surprises me now. It is a great recipe….and your version looks quite interesting too. thanks for sharing.


  • Amanda

    January 29, 2011 #5 Author

    Dan – many thanks for the tips! I'm in the US but not far from Canada, if I ever find myself visiting I will check out that brand! I have sometimes made mine in a pie plate, off setting each layer of phylo, then filling and folding onto the top.

    I'm so glad you stopped by and hope you'll enjoy some of my recipes! If there's a Moroccan dish you're interested in that you don't see – let me know!


  • Dan

    January 29, 2011 #6 Author

    That looks so amazing, and commendable that you don't think it's a daunting task. I did it once in a cooking class and I'll probably never attempt it again. I'm not a fan of working with phylo.

    The Bistilla I made used a slightly different method for the phylo. The phylo is set off to the side on the bottom of the pan (with large pieces hanging outside of the pan). When the filling is in, the pieces fold onto the top. Even if just for presentation, it's pretty cool.

    Two other random things just in case you're in Canada or the UK:

    1. The Contented Sole (in Burnham-on-Crouch, UK) has a Moroccan chef who makes a mean smoked pigeon (from locally shot pigeons).

    2. In Canada, the President's Choice brand offers a Moroccan Bistilla that isn't too bad considering it's factory made and frozen. Still would pale to something home made, but it's far less work.

    All the best (and wow, your blog is a great find!)


  • Cher

    January 29, 2011 #7 Author

    Amanda – I just knew that you would already would have a handle on this dish! I hope that your recovery is going well.


  • Amanda

    January 29, 2011 #8 Author

    Thanks for stopping by! I really encourage you to try more Moroccan dishes – you won't be disappointed!


  • Candy

    January 29, 2011 #9 Author

    Your b'stilla sounds wonderful. Love your story too! Thanks for the information. I'm fairly certain that this is the first Moroccan dish I've ever attempted. Your story is inspiring…


  • Amanda

    January 29, 2011 #10 Author

    No I'm actually in the US right now – I use that line because most everything that comes out of my kitchen is Moroccan. One day I'll be writing from Morocco!


  • lola

    January 29, 2011 #11 Author

    Enjoyed your recipe. The powdered sugar on top is interesting. I made individual b'stillas and froze two of them so thanks for the tip on freezing and cooking. I see you're an 'American wife in a Moroccan kitchen'. Does that mean you live in Morocco?


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