This is another excellent dinner party dish which is easy to make but takes a bit of preparation. If you are cooking for more than 4 people, then it’s easy to double this recipe to make 2 pies at the same time.
The combination of the chicken cooked in Moroccan spices, icing sugar almonds and lemon zest is mouthwateringly divine.
I cook carrots in with the chicken to make a carrot salad at the same time to serve with the B’stilla. The carrots cooked in the chickeny liquid are delicious when zested up with citrus and ginger flavours. The recipe is at the bottom here.
B’stilla or Pastilla? The real thing in Fes.
The best B’stilla we had was a pigeon version in Fes made with homemade filo pastry at a restaurant called Dar Tajine tucked away in the heart of the Old Médina. https://www.dartajine.com. Dinner there cooked by Salaheddin the Owner and Chef was a really memorable experience – it felt like we were in his home for a family dinner. In Fes they call B’stilla “Pastilla”.
My recipe uses chicken and store-bought filo pastry but tastes pretty delicious as well.
Preparation time including marination:4 hours Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- 4 chicken large thigh cutlets with bone in and skin on
- 8 large sheets of filo pastry
- half a bunch of parsley
- Half a bunch of coriander
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves of garlic smashed to a paste
- 1 teaspoon saffron fronds
- 4 teaspoons ras el hanout (Moroccan spice mix)
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon powder
- 3 tablespoons of icing sugar
- 1/4 cup of flaked almonds
- 4 tablespoons of melted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 litres of boiling water
1. Place saffron fronds in 1/4 cup of just boiled water and allow to steep. Remove filo pastry from freezer to allow defrost for 3.5 hours.
2. In a seperate bowl mix garlic, ras el hanout, lemon juice(not the zest), salt, saffron and saffron water olive oil and mix well
3. Place chicken thigh cutlets in a big bowl and massage the ras el hanout mixture into the chicken. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
4. Strip the leaves from the parsley and coriander. Keep the stems separately to leaves.
5. Peel and chop the carrot and onion into large chunks.
6. Put the onion, carrots, parsley and coriander stems into a large pot, add boiling water, then chicken. Bring to a boil, then simmer chicken for an hour, skimming from time to time.
7. Check carrots during this time and remove from the cooking liquid and place in a bowl after about 30 minutes when they are tender.
8. Remove chicken from the cooking liquid and place in a bowl or plate and allow to cool.
9. Carefully strain cooking liquid into a saucepan and boil it until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup.
10. Shred chicken into a bowl using your fingers, removing the bone and skin. (I wear gloves to do this.)
11. Chop parsley and coriander leaves and add to shredded chicken., along with the lemon zest, 1/2 the cinnamon, the flaked almonds,and the reduced cooking liquid to moisten the chicken.
12. Mix the rest of cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of icing sugar.
13. Pre-heat oven goes 180 degrees Celsius.
14. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place one sheet of filo pastry flat on it, the brush with melted butter. Add another sheet of pastry on top, brushing with butter and repeat until you have 7 sheets of pastry on top of each other to form the base.
15. Dust the base with some of the icing sugar mixture, then pile chicken mixture in the middle to form a flattish round heap.
16. Sprinkle rest of icing sugar mixture over the top of the chicken. Add an extra sheet of pastry folded in half over the top of the chicken. Then fold over all the pastry from the bottom to form a neat package using melted butter to seal it all together as you go.
15. Turn the parcel over, add a small decoration like a heart cut out of pastry to the centre if you like, brush with melted butter. Place in hot oven and cook for 30-35 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
16. Allow to rest for a while, then lay kitchen string across the package to create a ceasing, sprinkle plain icing sugar over it all, carefully remove string and voila your perfectly presented B’stilla is ready to serve. If you have a doily you can sprinkle the icing sugar through this to create the pattern. If that’s too hard just sprinkle the whole thing with icing sugar!
17. Slice and serve with carrot and green salad.
- Carrots cooked in chicken cooking liquid
- Handful of chopped parsley leaves
- Zest of half a lemon
- Juice of half an orange
- 1/2 finger length of fresh ginger julienned into strips
While the B’stilla is resting, heat your carrots for 1 minute in a microwave,
Add the rest of the ingredients to the carrots, mix through and serve with B’stilla and a crisp green salad.