Moroccan chicken and almond bastila
If you like gastronomy from different parts of the world and, on this particular occasion, from Morocco, you can’t miss today’s recipe. It is a pie that will surprise our palate thanks to a combination of sweet and salty flavors. Moroccan chicken and almond bastila.
It is a process that requires a little time to carry out. We will prepare 3 different types of filling, which we will then combine in layers in a buttered, filo dough wrapper. Bake, sprinkle with icing sugar, cinnamon and serve.
The origin of Moroccan bastila.
Bastila, bastilla or pastilla (in Arabic «bsstil-la» ), which would be translated as «pigeon pie», is considered one of the most important culinary preparations in Moroccan gastronomy. Its origin goes back several centuries and is the result of the culinary talent of the Caliph Chefs.
According to the historical references of the time, it was during the 10th century in Al-Andalus where it emerged, although other sources believe that its origin is Moorish-Andalusian and that it was taken to North Africa by the Arabs expelled from Al-Andalus.
Its filling consists of chicken meat, although in the past it was made with pigeon meat, onion, parsley and almonds. All of this is wrapped in several sheets of filo dough which, after baking, are decorated with icing sugar and cinnamon.
It is a preparation that, due to its elaborate process, is usually served at parties or special events.
Bastila, like other typical and essential dishes of Moroccan gastronomy, have their origin in the so-called «diffas«. They are banquets that take place in the palaces to welcome pilgrims returning from Mecca or also refer to social events of Arab culture. Weddings, births, religious festivities….
An event where this dish is always present is at Arab weddings. This is always the main course of a diffa after serving the starters.
Let us prepare this pie for a special occasion or just for the pleasure of enjoying a spectacularly magnificent dish. The recipe I have followed is based on Nargisse’s recipe from My Moroccan Food, which is a real wonder. Don’t miss her blog. If we divide the work into 2 days, your work will not be burdensome to carry out at all.
Recipe adapted from My Moroccan Food
FOR THE FILLING:
- 3 large chicken thighs, about 26,4 oz (750 g)
- 17,6 oz (500 g) onion finely sliced
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 glass of water (2 cups)
- 1,6 oz (45 g) parsley, stems removed
- 0,52 oz (15 g) fresh cilantro, only the leaves
- 6 large eggs
- 4,75 oz (135 g) raw almond
- 1/2 Tbsp honey
- 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder
- a pinch of saffron
- 3 tsp icing sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
TO WRAP UP THE PIE:
- 6 sheets filo pastry
- 4,75 oz (135 g) melted and cooled butter or ghee
- icing sugar
- cinnamon powder
Cook the chicken.
- Pour the oil into a large pot and place on medium heat.
- Place the chicken together with the sliced onion and sauté for a few minutes. We will observe how the tonality of the chicken begins to change.
- Add the spices together with the parsley and the cilantro finely chopped. Stir to distribute the ingredients.
- Season to taste, pour in the water, place the lid leaving an opening and cook at medium low heat for 60-65 minutes. The meat must be tender.
- Once the meat is ready, take it out of the pot and let it cool completely in a dish.
- Leave the onion with the rest of the ingredients in the pot.
- Once they are cold, remove the skin, bones and shred. Set aside.
Cook the eggs.
- Add the honey and cook at medium heat the onion and aromatic until the liquid is completely reduced. This point is important so that it does not leak into the filling.
- Once we have this reduced mixture, add the eggs and stir constantly until they set.
- Remove from heat, Transfer to a bowl and let it cool completely.
Cook the almonds.
- In a large frying pan, add the almonds along with a tablespoon of olive oil and place on medium heat.
- Cook until lightly golden browned and fragrant.
- Remove from heat and blend until a slightly thick texture is obtained.
- Add the sifted icing sugar and cinnamon, mix to homogenize.
- Transfer into a bowl and let it cool completely.
assemble the bastila.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).
- Brush with butter the pan or container that we are going to use to assemble the pie. Mine is 6,3 inches (16 cm) diameter.
- Take a sheet of filo dough, lightly brush the surface with butter and place it on the pan. Make sure that the dough is completely tightened to it.
- Put a layer of chicken on the base. Remember that we must divide to make two pies.
- Place a layer of scrambled egg with the onion and aromatic on top.
- We ended up with a layer of almond.
- Fold the filo pastry over the filling and, at the same time, brush it with a little butter to prevent it from drying out too much. If the joints of the dough do not stay together, we can brush them with beaten egg.
- Brush another sheet of filo pastry lightly with butter.
- Dump the bastila onto the sheet and fold the ends back to the centre.
- Repeat this process once again, in total we will use 3 sheets per pie. The layer of chicken should be on top and the almonds at the base of the pastry.
- Place on a tray lined with baking parchment.
- Repeat the process with the next pie.
- Brush the outside of both bastilas with butter and bake for 25 minutes. They will take on a slight golden color.
- Remove and let cool completely on a rack.
- Before serving, sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon.
- We can use the part of the chicken we prefer. In my case I have chosen thighs because the meat is juicier, but you can use thighs, breast... I leave it entirely to your choice.
- If we want to divide the process into 2 days; the first one cook the chicken, reduce the onion broth and aromatic and prepare the almonds. Once everything is cold, store it in airtight containers and refrigerate (with the exception of almonds). On the second day, cook the eggs, assemble the bastila and bake it.
- The almond we use can be whole or, if it is easier for you, raw granulated almonds. In this way, we speed up one of the steps.
- I've divided the cake into two pieces, but it can be made into one whole piece. Or even several smaller ones in individual formats. The cooking time will be the same in all cases, because we only have to cook the filo pastry.
- I recommend you not to omit the addition of icing sugar and cinnamon, it gives it a spectacular taste.
- The bastila, once cooked, can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days. You can also assemble it and freeze it without baking.
This Moroccan chicken and almond bastila is one of those preparations that, when you try it, will stay in your homes forever. I thought it was really spectacular, the flavors are explosive and the textures are incredible.
One of the good things about it, given the hot weather we have on top, is that it can be consumed warm or cold, making it perfect for enjoyment regardless of the outside temperature.
I can't wait to hear what you think of it when you try it.