Gastronomy enthusiasts, top chefs, and foodies worldwide have long been aware that Moroccan cuisine leads in exciting and exotic flavors when up against the seven continents. Historically, the North African country has been influenced by the Phoenicians, the Portuguese, the Andalusians, Mediterraneans, the Arabs, and the Jews. These ethnic groups integrated with and had exchanges with Morocco’s indigenous Berber tribes. As a result, the Moroccan kitchen uses a wide range of spices, the epitome of which is Ras El Hanout. The spice has at least 27 different ingredients. Among them are cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, fennel, anise, fenugreek, caraway, black pepper, sesame seeds, and turmeric. These flavors can be discovered in triangle-shaped spice stands and sampled in Morocco’s traditional dishes. These include couscous, bissara, and harira soups, roasted mechoui lamb, Moroccan salads, and one of the country’s favorite treats, the Bastilla, also referred to as pastilla. The savory-sweet Moroccan pie is best described as a thin and lightly toasted pastry shell. It is stuffed with a layered combination of braised chicken, omelet, and caramelized onions with rich with notes of turmeric, ginger, and other spices. Crispy Bastilla is dusted with powdered sugar and sprinkled with a lattice pattern of cinnamon. The sweet topping is the reason why the warka pastry is often thought of as a dessert.
Bastilla is one of Morocco’s most top dishes and is served on special holidays, at weddings, and birthday parties. Bastilla is round and comes in many sizes.
They can be small perfect for a serving for one or large enough to feed a table of twenty. Travelers to Morocco are enthralled by the savory dish when they first discover Bastilla inside a Moroccan bakery, at a traditional restaurant, a medina food tour, or inside a culinary class. Referred to as “pigeon pie” with its collection of paper-thin leaves may seem intimidating to recreate, award-winning chefs like American author Paula Wolfert and Morocco’s favorite youtube cooking sensation Chaumicha Chafay have demonstrated that it is more than possible to make the tastiest Bastilla at home.
For culture enthusiasts that believe in the philosophy “, you can experience a culture through its spices” Bastilla is a dish that takes you through many historical layers of Morocco.
When Chef Wolfert first began to explore the origins of the Bastilla for her cookbook Couscous and Other Good Foods From Morocco (1973) she was unclear if the pie was truly a Hispano-Muslim food as historians had promised because since it is not easily found in Andalucia. Though her recent publications demonstrate that she no longer believes this, she explained that in her early conversations with Moroccan Berbers who are best at making the chicken and saffron Bastilla, she could not find sufficient evidence of this claim. The Bastilla recipe has traveled quite a bit. It’s origins extend into sub-Sahara West Africa and the Mediterranean. Claudia Roden’s British cookbooks include a Turkish Jewish Bastilla. The most contemporary version of Bastilla has colonial-era French influences.
Morocco was placed under the French Protectorate established by the Treaty of Fes in 1912. The French too had their own version of Bastilla called pastillus. The luxuriously stuffed pie integrated a variety of fish, meat, butter, and spices. Today there is a variety of stuffed Bastilla, likely influenced by the French. Yet what remains most popular in Morocco is the original Fes pigeon Bastilla and classic chicken with almonds Bastilla.
There is also a dessert Bastilla version. The Jowhara or Jewel is typically found in sweet recipes from Fassi cuisine and described as a sweet pastry with milk, flavored with orange flower water, and decorated with cinnamon and sugar.
Bastilla can meet the requisites of any occasion. Historical records show that the Scottish King William the Lion served a version of bastilla to Richard the Lion-Hearted. The most basic chicken bastilla however, is what is most enjoyed in Morocco. It is humble in origins and is a family favorite comfort food.
Morocco’s Best Bastilla Receipe Shared by Chef: Choumicha Chafay
We referenced the recipe arsenal of Morocco’s favorite Tv and Youtube cooking personality, Choumicha Chafay. The culinary expert started her cusine career by accident when she demonstrated the need for Moroccan people to learn cooking from “real people with average cooking skills”. Today, Mrs. Choumicha is the producer of cooking shows on 2M® Morocco, in France on CuisineTV®, in Italy on Babel TV, and her Youtube cooking channel has a following of over 400.,000 subscribers.
Although there many varieties of classBastillalla recipes, the fundamental parts of every authentic recipe are that the chicken is browned in butter and that meat is simmered in a vegetable-based bone broth. Also included are eggs to thicken the sauce and a mixture of crushed fried almonds, powdered sugar, and cinnamon.
Classic Chicken Recipe by Choumicha Chafay
Cooking time: 30m Total time: 2h 30m Serves: 6 people
1 whole (skinless) chicken split into 4 parts
4.4 Ib finely chopped onion
1 parsley head finely chopped
1/2 head coriander diced
3 cinnamon sticks
10 saffron petals
2 tbsp. coffee ginger
1 C. pepper
3 pinches of Ras El Hanout (optional)
1 C. of ghee or clarified butter
8 cl of oil
1 cup honey
650 g of blanched almonds
100 g icing sugar (or according to taste)
1 C. cinnamon powder
For the Dough: Use phyllo sheets or recipe below
400 g of pastilla leaves
80 g of butter
Oil for cooking
1 egg yolk
For the Garnish:
1. In a cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pot, insert chicken, onion, butter, oil, and herbs,
2. Cook over low heat. The onion needs to melt into the chicken and with the spices. Remove the chicken once it thoroughly cooked and discard the bones.
3. On low heat add honey to the sauce, stir until the onion takes the consistency of a jam. Separate oil from “jam” and reserve for the pastilla or (phyllo) leaves.
4. Add boneless chicken into the onion sauce. Add eggs.
5. Cook the filling on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
6. Fry or grill the blanched almonds until they turn a golden sunset yellow.
7. Finely chop the almonds and mix with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
8. Mix the reserved oil with the melted butter. Coat the phyllo or pastilla sheets.
9. Following instructions in the “video” insert the stuffing
10. In a cast-iron pan, brown the pastilla in hot oil. Alternatively, preheat oven to 356 F.
13. Decorate the pastilla in a lattice pattern with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.