Filled with chicken and almonds and covered in powdered sugar, the Moroccan Chicken Pastilla is a delicious dinner treat.
I had first heard of the Pastilla while still in Culinary school. I was taking a Mediterranean class and one week we focused on the cuisine of Northern Africa, specifically Morocco. Alongside a few different tangines and mint tea, our chef instructor asked us to make a Moroccan Chicken Pastilla.
I was instantly intrigued. How could something as savory as chicken be combined with powdered sugar like a dessert?
Believe it, it just works.
Traditionally made with pigeon, Pastilla is a savory pie filled with meat, spices and eggs to form almost a custard. Ground toasted almonds are added in as well as a touch of sugar.
The filling is then set inside a pan patterned with phyllo dough. Once out of the oven a heavy hand of powdered sugar is decorated on top as a finishing touch.
I made this in a round 9-in cake pan, but you can also build this dish in a pie plate or even as small individual appetizers by spreading the filling on a piece of phyllo dough and folding it like the brik in the photos that follow.
Love Snacking on African Foods?
Try these Nigerian Puff Puff Donuts,
Or a bite of this Algerian Mushroom Brik.
Find the recipe for Moroccan Chicken Pastilla below:
This traditional Moroccan main dish is sweet with a hint of spice.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 4-6 boneless chicken thighs
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 onions diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 4 eggs beaten
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 10 sheets phyllo dough sheets
- 3 Tbsp butter melted
- powdered sugar for decorating
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and cook the chicken thighs until crisp and golden. Turn the thighs over and cook until browned. No need to worry if the chicken is not fully cooked, it will cook later on in the dish.
Remove the chicken from the pan and add in the butter. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add in the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, salt and pepper and cook 2 minutes. Add the chicken back to the pan and add in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and cover the pan. Simmer until chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and shred with two forks.
Meanwhile reduce the liquid by half. Add the chicken back into the pan and whisk in the eggs over low heat and cook until the mixture resembles loose scrambled eggs. Add in the chopped almonds and parsley. Remove from heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350F. Brush the cake pan with melted butter and layer 5 sheets of phyllo, brushing each with butter. Add the filling and top with the remaining phyllo dough, arranging the pieces to cover the pice completely. Fold in the pieces and brush with remaining butter. Bake until pastry is crisp, about 30 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool before sprinkling with powdered sugar. Serve.