Neither Pigeons nor Eggs

By Ms.Gourmet on September 14, 2010 9:43 PM
I have wanted to make b'stilla or pastilla, the national Moroccan dish for some time now but I've been put off by a couple of things, namely the pigeons and the copious amounts of eggs. In hindsight, I should have gone straight to Claudia Roden as her 'poor mans' version in Arabesque is spectacular, as it contains neither pigeons nor eggs.

B'stilla is thought to have been brought back by the Moors from Andalusia and it is a favourite at Moroccan weddings and is often served at festive occasions. In Morocco b'stilla is made with paper-thin warka pastry similar to Turkish yuftka and Greek filo pastry. If you're unable to source warka or yuftka pastry you can substitute with filo, as that will do just fine.

Once you try this particular b'stilla you will see why it is more to my liking than the more elaborate version that is heaving with eggs. Hence, my extremely fussy son Dante not only inhaled this scrumptious pie but he then went back for seconds. Now you and I both know that he wouldn't have come within a one-mile radius of this chicken and onion pie had there been the slightest hint of egg or pigeon in it!


B'stilla Bil Djaj - Spiced Chicken and Onion Pie

Adapted from Arabesque


3 large brown onions, sliced

A good glug of olive oil

100g blanched almonds

450g organic chicken thigh fillets, skinned

½ cup chicken stock

1 tbsp ground ginger

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Large bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

Freshly ground pepper + sea salt, to taste

375g packet of filo pastry

100g of butter, melted

1 organic egg yolk, beaten

Icing sugar + ground cinnamon, to decorate



1. Preheat the oven to 180°C /350°F /Gas Mark 4. Grease a 30cm round baking dish with some olive oil and set aside.

2. Place the onions and the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook over a low heat with the lid on for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are soft. Stir in the ginger and cinnamon and then add the chicken fillets and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and cook uncovered for 20 minutes until the onion is golden.

3. Remove the chicken from the saucepan and shred it into pieces. Continue to cook off the onions until the liquid has evaporated. Return the shredded chicken to the pan, add the fresh coriander and mix well.

4. Fry the almonds in a tablespoon of olive oil until they are lightly golden. Drain on kitchen paper and chop them coarsely. Stir the chopped almonds through the spiced chicken mixture and set aside.

5. Divide the filo pastry in half and then line the baking dish with half the filo pastry, which has been brushed with melted butter. Reserve remaining butter. Spread the chicken and onion mixture evenly over the filo lined baking dish. Lay the remaining sheets of filo over the top, brushing each one with a little melted butter, but don't brush the last sheet with butter. Tuck the edges into the side of the pan around the pie.

6. Brush the top of the pie with the egg yolk mixed with a dash of water. Bake the pie for 30-40 minutes until it is golden and crisp. Then put the pie on the bottom of the oven for a further 15 minutes so to help the bottom brown.

7. Serve the pie hot, dusting the top with icing sugar and then making a geometric pattern in the white icing sugar with the golden-brown cinnamon. 


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Recent Comments

  • Food Jihadist: Great post. I am loving your blog. Translated, we have read more
  • Jamie: Inspiring! You can't imagine how long I have wanted to read more
  • Dana: No wonder you son went back for seconds, that looks read more
  • Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen: This sounds great! I love this dish, and order it read more
  • Ms.Gourmet: I think that's why I love Moroccan food so read more
  • Ms.Gourmet: Thanks Hannah for the lovely comment! read more
  • Sarah: This is a lovely practical bastilla with all the wonderful read more
  • Scott at Real Epicurean: It looks fantastic and great for the colder weather sweeping read more
  • Christie: Looks fantastic Nanette! I adored B'stilla in Morocco, it was read more
  • heather @ chiknpastry: looks gorgeous! this is my husbands very favorite dish - read more