Sometimes, you just have to make something exotic with everyday, ordinary ingredients. THAT is what Bastilla is! Most often known to be a dish from Morocco, it is said to be prepared in Egypt as well, though its origin is actually from Andalusia, hence the name (Spanish) which indicates it is made in a pastry.
Chicken or quail, though originally made from squab (pigeon) raised specifically for cooking, is the heart of this dish. Layers of flavor, both sweet (cinnamon and sugar) and sour (lemon and coriander) encased in a crunchy, buttery pastry, makes this dish something very special. It is not difficult to prepare. It is best thought to approach it in steps, one being to cook the chicken in advance, or simply use left-overs from a roasted, or boiled chicken. The rest comes together rather quickly. We will approach this in steps.
- Chicken – whole or cut up parts
- Salt – 2 tablespoons
- Marjoram – 1 tablespoon
- Lemon – whole
- Garlic – whole
- Cinnamon Stick
Place chicken into a large pot of boiling water. Add salt, marjoram, lemon cut in half, garlic cut in half, and a whole cinnamon stick. Cover. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer for 2 hours. Remove chicken. Cool. Shred all of the breast and the thigh meat. Set aside. Save broth.
- Almond Meal – 2 cups meal or chop your own almonds
- Cinnamon – 2 tablespoons
- Salt – 1 tablespoon
- Coriander – 1 ½ tablespoons
- Cayenne Pepper – 1 tablespoon (yep!)
Mix and set aside
- Eggs – 6
- Broth from cooking chicken – 1 cup
- Lemon juice – from 2 lemons
- Garlic – 2 cloves, pressed
- Orange Blossom Water – optional 1 tablespoon
Whip ingredients together and set aside.
- Filo Sheets – about 20
- Butter – 1 ½ to 2 sticks, melted
- Cinnamon – 2 tablespoons
- Powdered Sugar – 2 tablespoons
- Slivered Almonds – ¼ cup
Combine cinnamon and sugar and set aside. Almonds aside also.
A spring form pan works best, (easy to release and remove from pan) but a large pie plate or cake pan will work too. Butter pan. Lay a sheet of filo inside and press gently against the bottom and sides. Baste with butter. Add another sheet, and baste, shaping each sheet into the pan until you have about 10 sheets covering the bottom and sides (with overhang).
Place half of the shredded chicken on the bottom and smooth out. Next sprinkle half of the dry mix on top the chicken and smooth. Then pour half the egg mixture across the layers. Repeat with chicken, almond mix, and egg mix.
Next 10 sheets of filo. One layer at a time, baste, and shape.
Trim off the excess overhang of filo. Butter. Fold and shape the edges the way you would a pie crust. Baste. Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar across the top. Sprinkle the almond slivers across the top.
Bake in a 350 oven for about an hour. Cool slightly before slicing.
Beautiful, Delicious, and Exotic!
You did it!!