Try your hand at Moroccan pastilla! This North African dish features tender, shredded chicken, toasted almonds, and generous amounts of warming spices all nestled in a buttery, flaky, phyllo dough crust.
I’m guessing you are probably familiar with some of the classic Greek recipes featuring phyllo dough such as tiropita, spanakopita, or baklava, but what do you know about pastilla?
North African cuisine includes this popular savory pie stuffed with meat or seafood. It’s traditionally made with warqa dough, which is similar to filo dough. I like to use the latter because it’s easier to get my hands on.
This Moroccan pastilla is a savory-sweet masterpiece that I am very excited to share with you. It has all the flaky deliciousness of your favorite meat pie with a tantalizing Moroccan spin. Sweet, savory, and smoky, it is bursting with flavor and way easier to make than you may think!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Almonds - Earthy, sweet, and nutty. Go with blanched for a smoother taste.
- Oil - Your favorite cooking oil will do.
- Powdered Sugar - Adds a dash of sweetness.
- Orange Blossom Water - Adds a delicate orange essence. Look for this ingredient in your local Middle Eastern market or online. A very light orange zest can be substituted in its place.
- Butter - Enhances the flavor and texture of the crust.
- Chicken - Go with boneless thighs for tender, flavorful meat.
- Spices - Vibrant and warming spices including cinnamon, turmeric, saffron, salt, and pepper enhance flavor.
- Ras el Hanout - A warm, smoky, distinctly Moroccan spice blend.
- Herbs - Onion, garlic, and parsley add zesty freshness.
- Eggs - Used for coating the chicken and accenting the crust.
- Phyllo Dough - Tender, flaky, buttery pastry sheets. Look for them in the frozen foods section at the grocery store.
HOW TO MAKE MOROCCAN PASTILLA
1. Toast The Almonds. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then stir in the almonds until golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel, but leave the oil in the skillet.
2. Blend Filling. Combine the almonds in a food processor with the cinnamon, powdered sugar, orange blossom water, and softened butter. Pulse together until a wet, crumbly mixture forms. Set aside.
3. Season Chicken. Mix the saffron, turmeric, Ras el Hout, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a ziploc bag along with the spice mix and toss to coat thoroughly.
4. Cook Chicken. Heat the same large skillet over medium-high heat and add the additional oil. Cook the chicken for a total of about 6 minutes, browning it on both sides. Remove, dice once cooled, and set aside.
5. Add Vegetables. Turn the heat down to medium and toss the onions and garlic into the same skillet, stirring until soft. Next, stir in the diced chicken and parsley. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
6. Add Eggs. Turn the heat to low and slowly pour 4 beaten eggs over the chicken mixture. Carefully stir to ensure chicken is well coated as the eggs cook. Remove from heat and set aside.
7. Prepare for Assembly. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and prepare a 10-inch pie pan with oil or spray. Drape 2 phyllo sheets over the center of the pie pan, gently press to mold the bottom and sides, and brush with butter. Repeat the process 4 more times, but with the dough slightly off center to create an overhang on 4 sides.
8. Create Layers. Spread the almond mixture to the edges of the phyllo, then cover with 2 more phyllo sheets. Brush with butter, add 2 more sheets, and brush again. Next, add the chicken mixture and spread to the edges. Add 2 more sheets to the center before carefully folding in the overhanging sides. Brush the top with butter and then with the remaining beaten egg.
9. Bake Pastilla. Place the pie pan in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before flipping onto a baking pan. Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the new flat top is golden brown.
10. Serve. Remove pastilla cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and cinnamon and serve while still warm. Enjoy!
What is Pastilla Made Of?
This irresistible rustic recipe is brimming with toasted almonds, shredded chicken, and warming spices all wrapped up in buttery, flaky phyllo dough.
The real star of the show is the classic Moroccan spice blend Ras el Hanout. Translated literally, “Ras el Hanout” means “head of shop,” which really means “top shelf,” and it’s easy to see why. Blends will vary, but are all full of spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, rose petals, lavender, mint, cardamom, etc. The resulting flavor profile is smoky, sweet, and spicy and makes a phenomenal pastilla.
What Kind Of Meat is in Pastilla?
This dish is traditionally made with pigeon but is more commonly made with chicken.
How Do I Store Leftover Moroccan Pastilla?
Store leftovers in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to a week. If needed, leftovers can be wrapped tightly and stored in the freezer for up to a month.
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- 2 cups almonds slivered and blanched
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
- 2 tablespoons butter softened
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 lbs chicken thighs boneless/skinless
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 medium yellow onion finely sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- 5 eggs
- 1 lb filo sheets
- 8 tablespoon butter melted
- powdered sugar
- ground cinnamon
- In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Stir and cook almonds until golden brown. Remove from skillet with slotted spoon, reserving oil in skillet, to a paper towel lined plate.
- Transfer the fried almonds to a food processor and add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, orange blossom water, and softened butter. Pulse all the ingredients together until a loose, wet crumb mixture. Set aside.
- In a small bowl mix together the Ras el Hanout, cinnamon, salt, black pepper, turmeric and saffron threads.
- Place the chicken in a Ziploc bag and add the spices. Seal and toss to coat, rubbing spices on chicken.
- Heat the reserved oil and add the other tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides for about 6 minutes total. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside to cool. When easy to handle, dice the chicken and set aside.
- In the same skillet, add the onion slices and garlic. Cook over medium heat, tossing until softened. Return the chicken pack to the skillet along with parsley and Stir. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked through. Season to taste.
- Beat 4 of the eggs together and slowly pour over the chicken mixture. Turn heat to low and carefully stir through to coat the chicken, cooking as eggs thicken and coat chicken. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Assembly / Bake
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare a 10-inch pie dish or heat-safe skillet and coat with oil or cooking spray.
- Take 2 sheets of phyllo dough and drape over center of baking dish. Gently press in to mold bottom and sides, then brush with melted butter. Repeat same 4 more times leaving overhang on 4 sides by starting a little off center each time then rotate dish.
- Spread the almond mixture on top of the buttered phyllo sheets, carefully spreading to edges and cover again with 2 more sheets of phyllo. Brush with butter, layer 2 more sheets of phyllo and brush with butter. Top with chicken mixture, carefully spreading to edges. Cover again with 2 more sheets of phyllo in center. Carefully fold the hanging phyllo edges up and over the center. Gently press them down and brush one more time with melted butter. Whisk remaining egg and brush all over the pastilla (See Note 1).
- Bake on the center rack of your heated oven for 20 minutes or until the phyllo is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Using a spatula, carefully run it around the rim and edges of the phyllo to release if stuck. Place a baking sheet on top and quickly flip to release pastilla on the baking sheet. Place in oven to brown the flat top (that used to be the bottom) for 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Using a spatula, lift the pastilla to a serving plate. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and make lines of cinnamon if desired for pattern (as pictured). Serve warm.
- Save remaining sheets of phyllo for other use and refrigerate.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.
This is such a delicious recipe! Thank you!
So happy you enjoyed this one!