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This is one of the few dishes that Moroccans can claim for their own. Unlike couscous or tajine which stretches across the Maghreb b’stilla is firmly routed in Morocco. Today, the most common type of b’stilla served is chicken but traditionally it was made with pigeon. Only recently has this dish become something that an average Moroccan person might eat – previously it was reserved only for royalty or the wealthy.
There are a few different stories about where b’stilla was created but the most popular story is that it was developed in the kitchens of Moorish Spain. The story goes that the sultan had seen what was being served in French courts and wanted a dish that would rival the French court and his cooks developed this. Is the story true? Maybe yes, maybe no!
What we do know is that the dish came back to Morocco and the royal courts where it eventually trickled out to the rest of the population. What makes this dish so special? It’s a really unique mix of sweet and savory in one package. Chicken is cooked with spices and broth and is then shredded while eggs are slowly cooked in the remaining broth. The meat is layered into a pie that is surrounded by paper thin sheets of warka dough (similar to phyllo), the eggs are added as well as crushed almonds, cinnamon and icing sugar. The entire package is wrapped up and baked and then dusted with cinnamon and sugar on top too.
This dish is a favorite of mine. My sister-in-laws always make sure to have this for me. Their’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 but it’s how I’ve adapted it for my American kitchen.
FILLING ALMOND MIXTURE 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.
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.