B’stilla is a great Moroccan dish that can be spelled Bastilla, Bestilla, B'steeya, Bistayla or Pastilla. North African food often includes unusual combinations of sweet and savory flavors with a complex blend of herbs and spices. This particular blend came to Northwest Africa from Persia. Surprisingly, the B’stilla is not common in many of the countries in between. In Morocco, this is the food of celebration and different preparation methods were devised to out do the next village. Historians believe that recently a bride-to-be impressed her mother-in-law by making this elaborate dish. This is a modern version of the classic one made with pigeon, grouse, or squab layered with slivered almonds ground with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
2 lb. boneless skinless chicken
1 T. olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 t. chopped ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground turmeric
20 Strands of saffron
1 cup water
1/4 cup of sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup crushed almonds
1/4 cup confection sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
Soak the saffron in the cup of water for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, sauté the onions in the olive oil for a few minutes.
Add chicken and sauté for a few additional minutes.
When chicken starts turning white, add the ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and saffron water.
Cover and simmer for half an hour or until chicken is shredable.
In a bowl, mix eggs, sugar, salt, cilantro, and parsley.
Add this mixture to chicken while it’s cooking.
Turn off the burner; cover the pot and let sit.
For the nut layer, mix the almonds, sugar and cinnamon.
Start by brushing a 9” pie-pan with butter and layering 6 layers of butter-brushed phyllo dough sheets with 2” extended sides.
Spread a thin layer of the chicken egg mixture and follow with 3 more layers of the buttered phyllo.
A layer of the almond follows and folding the sides seals the pie.
Bake at 450 degrees for ten minute, or until golden.
Invert and garnish with confection sugar.