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Moroccan Bastila

Slofoodgroup Team May 12, 2019

A sweet and savory meat pie made with saffron and cinnamon

Bastila, or Pastilla is maybe the next most famous dish of Morocco, next to Tagine. It is a sweet and savory pie, that literally can be translated as Chicken Philo Pastry pie. It is usually cooked for special occasions as a shared meal, usually served as a second of many courses, right after small plates of fresh salads and right before Tagine. Although it is on the sweet side, Moroccans consider this a formal dish, a proof of culinary refinement and a delicacy.
Traditionally made out of pigeon, eggs and sugar cinnamon coated almonds, all carefully wrapped in fine layers of dough, nowadays is very common to replace pigeon meat with chicken and the warqua with philo dough.
Although an elaborate recipe, Bastila is easy to make and it doesn’t require more than an hour. We tried it for you and we loved it, so here’s how to make it. The recipe down below serves two people as a main dish, or four, served as an appetizer. It is great both warm and cold and it makes an impressive picnic dish. Best served next to some fresh salad.

Pastilla/Bastila (Moroccan Pie)

Serves: 2-4

Prep Time: 30’

Cooking Time: 30’

Additional Time: 0’



  • 2 pigeons (can be replaced by 450 grams/1 pounds of deboned chicken thighs), roughly chopped

  • 1 medium onion

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

  • 1/2 tsp of each ground ginger, cinnamon and turmeric powder

  • pinch of Persian Saffron, Negin Cut

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 3 eggs

  • handful almonds

  • 50 grams/approx. 2 oz powder sugar

  • 1 tsp orange blossom water

  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ceylon Cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 pack phyllo dough pastry

  • extra powder sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on top


Start by preparing the three fillings

The meat filling:

  1. over medium heat, add some vegetable oil in a pot and fry up the onion until translucent; add the parsley and the spices in along with the salt and pepper; stir for 2 minutes then add the meat;

  2. cover the pot and cook the meat for 5-7 minutes or up until it looks done on the exterior; add a splash of water to cover the meat halfway, cover and allow to fully cook for 20-30 minutes;

  3. remove the meat from the pot and set aside; shred when cooled down; 

The egg filling:

  1. in the pot with the remaining onion, parsley and spices, add the eggs and stir on low until most of the liquid has evaporated.

The almond filling:

  1. in a frying pan, bring the 1/2 cup of oil and fry the almonds on medium heat until they smell pleasantly nutty; drain and preserve the oil they’ve cooked in.

  2. in a food processor, bring the almonds together with the powder sugar, orange blossom water and cinnamon and pulse until everything is well combined.

  1. preheat oven to 180 C/350 F;

  2. brush some of the oil where the almonds have cooked on the bottom of a round pan and lay out 6-8 layers of phyllo dough; fold in half and cover one half of the bottom of the pan at a time if needed;

  3. once the base of the Pastilla is being laid out, add 4 more layers of phyllo dough to overflow the pan; each of those layers need to be thick enough to wrap everything at the end, so make sure one layer has 2-3 individual phyllo pastry sheets; 

  4. start by adding the egg mixture on the bottom of the pan, distributing evenly; add 4-6 individual phyllo pastry sheets on top, brush with oil and add the meat in; cover with 4-6 individual phyllo pastry sheets, brush with oil and add the almond mixture in; repeat the process;

  5. wrap the Pastilla with the hanging layers of dough and brush well with oil;

  6. to finish it off, add 2-4 more layers of phyllo pastry on top, by tucking in any excess dough there might be so the pie won’t open while baking;

  7. brush everything with oil and bake at 180C/350F for 30 minutes or up until golden brown;

  8. serve with extra powdered sugar and cinnamon on top (optional).