Bastilla (Bisteeya) Recipe

Trying to be as flexible as possible, I’m including equivalents for squab and chicken as well as vegetables (a couple vegetarian readers weighed in on this preemptively).

1 large Spanish onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 green chile pepper, seeded and chopped fine
2 teaspoons ras el hanout (a.k.a. “Moroccan Spice”)*
2 pigeons (squab) OR about 2 pounds chicken pieces of your choice OR about 1.25 pounds root vegetables of your choice
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cinnamon stick
Pinch of saffron threads
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons lemon juice (orange flower water works great, too)
2 cups whole almonds, toasted and ground
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 8-ounce package store-bought phyllo dough or 1 recipe warqa sheets
1/2 cup melted butter
toasted silvered almonds for garnish
powdered sugar for dusting
ground cinnamon for decoration

In a 4-quart casserole melt the butter and sauté the onion over medium heat until golden. Add the salt, ginger, pepper and ras el hanout (if using). Put in the poultry (or vegetables) and cinnamon stick, broth and saffron. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer over low for about half an hour until tender.

Remove the chicken (or vegetables). Discard the cinnamon stick. Allow the chicken to cool, then strip the meat from the bones and discard the any skin or bones. Shred the meat. Meanwhile, cook the onion mixture down until it’s thick, about 1 3/4 cups. Add the parsley and cilantro and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add the beaten eggs and lemon juice and cook, stirring them until they’re cooked. Add the shredded chicken. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside

In a small bowl, combine the ground almonds, the granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Set the mixture aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenhiet and lightly butter a 9″ cast iron skillet or cake layer pan. Place 4 sheets of phyllo or warqa in the bottom of the skillet brushing each one sheet with butter. Lay the sheets in at different angles so the bottom of the pan is covered but there’s a good bit of overhang.

Sprinkle half the almond mixture over the sheets, top with the shredded chicken mixture, then the rest of the almond mixture. Fold the overhanging edges of the fillo dough over the mixture. Top with the remaining phyllo sheets, brushing each with clarified butter. Tuck the edges in along the rim of the pan.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until the phyllo is golden brown and it’s heated through. Cool the bisteeya, then slide it onto a platter. Sprinkle the slivered almonds on top and with powdered sugar, then lightly with cinnamon. Cut into wedges and serve.

*Substitute 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg, allspice, black pepper and cardamom

17 thoughts on “Bastilla (Bisteeya) Recipe”

  1. I think in the first step you want us to add the broth at some point? Cannot wait to try this, sounds wonderful


  2. I’m going to try this as soon as it cools off this fall. I’m afraid I will have to leave off the cilantro. I’m one of those people who can’t stand the stuff. It tastes like soap to me.

      1. What if I replace the green cilantro with its crushed seeds? I also can’t stand that green stuff, bleuh, but I love the seeds, they are perfect to me almost to any meat I can think of.

        1. I think that would work, actually. Just go a little lighter since the dried herb will be stronger!


          – Joe

    1. Hey Joe,I have never seen a more beautiful and tasty lonkiog bastilla. Not even in all the moroccan weddings I’ve been to. Seriously!!! One thing I don’t know how the word bisteeya got around but it’s originally called bastilla.Sorry for the nitpicking. x Farahps. Have you also tried the fish bastilla!?

      1. Hey Chris! It’s not nitpicking…though I’ve seen at least four different spellings of the word. Regarding all your wonderful praise, I thank you for it, but my wife will suffer later when I go home with an inflated ego!

        Regarding your question I have never tried a fish bisteeya, but now I will look for a recipe! Cheers and many thanks!

        – Joe

  3. You used all the almond mix, and only half the chicken mix. Was this deliberate? Suggested use for the rest of the chicken mix? Start with less chicken?

  4. Hey Joe,
    I have never seen a more beautiful and tasty looking bastilla. Not even in all the moroccan weddings I’ve been to. Seriously!!!

    One thing… I don’t know how the word bisteeya got around but it’s originally called bastilla.
    Sorry for the nitpicking. 😀

    x Farah

    ps. Have you also tried the fish bastilla!?

    1. Farah, that is extremely high praise. The nitpicking takes nothing away from it. Regarding the name, I admit I went with one of the more exotic spellings I found because I thought it was cool (I was also told it was how most Moroccans pronounce it). But because I’ll do just about anything when someone gives me such a wonderful compliment, I’ll add the bastilla spelling to the title. Fair enough?

      – Joe

  5. This looks very interesting and I am wondering… is it appropriate or reasonable to serve it with some good, old-fashioned American chicken gravy on the top? That big snowstorm will hit the Northeast here this weekend and I have this urge to gravy-ify, just a little. Thanks!

    1. Hey Marti!

      Living in the land of chicken gravy and loving it as I do, I’m tempted to put it on my corn flakes. However even I would demure from putting it on bisteeya, only because it’s jam-packed with flavor and has plenty of moisture. Maybe make up some and keep it on the side though, just in case! 😉

      Enjoy the snow. I wish we were getting it!

      – Joe

  6. I love making bastilla! I actually make individually wrapped phyllo triangles with it, its a great lunch with an orange and black olive salad.

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