Chicken bastilla is a traditional savory pie from Morocco. A brittle warka dough shell contains a multitude of flavors: tasty chicken with saffron and ras el hanout, spicy omelet, toasted almonds scented with orange blossom water; all topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon 😀 . Yes, for the Italian conception of the savory-sweet this recipe may saound strange, but it really is tasty and spectacular… After the first bite you’ll have finish the whole pie :p .
This dish may appear to be quite divergent from European kitchen, because we are not used to mix meat with sugar… But this recipe was actually born in Europe, and especially in Spain: it’s during the period of Arab occupation, that the recipe begins its journey to Morocco; especially because of the Fez sultan, who was a great admirer of the rich Spanish cuisine and especially of pastilla, a meat pie with fruit and almonds 🙂 .
Similar dishes were also present in France, where we find pies stuffed with spiced meat in several cookbooks; and also in the United Kingdom where the King of Scotland had the wastelli dominici prepared for the visit of Richard the Lion heart. The plate then disappeared from the European tables, because tastes rapidly changed, such a shame that we can remedy by preparing it together 😀 .
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For the chicken
- 800 g of chicken breast
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 onions
- 1 pinch of saffron preferably in stigmas
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 glass of water
- 4 eggs
For the almonds
- 200 g of almonds
- 50 g of powdered sugar
- 1.5 tablespoons of orange blossom water
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the composition
- 10 sheets of Warka or phyllo dough
- melted butter
Dice the onion, and golden it with spices (cinnamon, ras el hanout, ginger, saffron, pepper). Add chicken, cut into regular slices, let it golden a few minutes then add the water and chopped parsley; cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan, and cook the eggs in the meat sauce.
Toast the almonds, chop them and mix them with sugar, orange blossom water and cinnamon.
Now you'll only have to compose the pie :D.
Choose a pan of appropriate size for the sheets of dough you have. For example we used round sheets with a diametre of 24 cm, and to bake the pie we used a smaller round baking pan of about 20 cm 😉 .
Grease the bottom of the pan generously with melted butter.
Brush with butter one warka sheet, lay it on the bottom of the pan. Repeat the process 2 more times, until you have 3 sheets of dough on the bottom.
Put the eggs into the pan, press well to spread it evenly.
Now add 2 sheets of warka, always brushed with butter.
Chop the chicken into small pieces, and put it into the baking pan, always pressing it gently.
Cover it with two more sheets of dough.
Add the almonds.
Here comes the most delicate step of the whole composition. Complete the top of cake with the remaining 3 sheets of dough (do not forget to brush them with butter). You must leave the edges of the top 3 sheets free and hide them beneath those of the other layers.
Now gently lift the cake and stuck the top dough sheets on the sides.
Grease generously with butter and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake at 180 °C for 25 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil and continue cooking until the top is golden brown (it takes a couple of minutes).
Let cool a minute and remove from the pan your bastilla. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon and serve your chicken bastilla immediately.
After all this effort, you really can enjoy the bastilla! 🙂
PS: The bastilla did not stop its journey in the Mediterranean, and following the explorers the recipe reached Puerto Rican cuisine where we find the pastelis, a pastry cake containing corn, almonds and raisins. We’ll talk about this in the next posts :).