In Morocco, they make a thin pastry dough, similar to phyllo, but much more durable. As it is not likely to be found in your supermarket, use phyllo for this delicious chicken dish, made with a variety of rich and flavorful spices.  This dish, though savory, is made with sugar, topped with confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon. The pairing of spice and sweet makes an exceptional meat pie.
Basila - Moroccan Chicken Pie

Bastila (Moroccan Chicken Pie)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Also known as Pastilla, this dish is served in many ways in many lands. It is often made with meat, vegetable, eggs and even as a dessert.
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Moroccan
Serves: 6
  • 1 Cup butter
  • 1/2 Cup olive oil
  • 1 large frying chicken
  • 1 large onion; minced
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoons Cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Cup light chicken broth
  • 8 eggs; lightly beaten
  • salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fillo dough
  • powdered sugar
  • ground cinnamon
  1. Melt 1/2 cup of the butter and 1/4 cup of the olive oil together in a heavy skillet over moderate to high heat. Brown the pieces of the chicken on all sides, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the giblets and onion and saute just until the onion is soft but not yet browned. Add the next 10 ingredients and stir.
  2. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the cup of broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat evenly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is exceedingly tender. Set the chicken and giblets aside to cool.
  3. When cool enough to handle, remove all the meat from the bones and cut into very thin strips. Mince the giblets fine. Bring the sauce to the boil and, stirring constantly to prevent burning, cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to moderate. Gently stir the sauce while pouring the beaten eggs into it in a thin stream. Continue to stir until the eggs and sauce have formed curds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Melt the remaining 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup of oil together.
  5. To assemble, paint the bottom of a 12-inch heavy skillet liberally with the butter and oil combination. Cover the bottom of the pan with an overlapping layer of the sheets of filo, letting the edges hang over the side. You should place the filo so that about 4 inches hangs over the edge of the pan. Fold 2 sheets and place in the middle of the pan. Paint lightly with the oil and butter mixture. Add another layer of filo in the same manner and paint again.
  6. Continue until half of the filo has been used. Put half of the egg mixture on the pastry and spread evenly. Sprinkle over all of the chicken and giblets. Spread with the remaining egg.
  7. Gently smooth the top. Begin covering the eggs with sheets of filo in the same manner as when you covered the bottom of the pan except that you do not let the edges hang over the sides of the pan.
  8. Fold them over onto themselves to make them fit. Be sure to place 2 folded sheets in the middle of each layer of pastry and to paint each layer with the butter and oil mixture. When all the sheets have been used, bring the ends of the bottom sheets over the finished pie to seal the edges and paint with the butter and oil.
  9. Put the pan on the highest heat possible and fry the pie for 3 to 4 minutes or until the bottom of the pie is golden brown. Place a large flat platter on top of the frying pan, hold firmly, and invert the frying pan, transferring the pie to the platter. Paint the pan liberally with the oil and butter again, reheat over a high fire, and slide the pie back into the pan to fry the other side. Again, leave just until golden brown.
  10. NOTES : To serve, transfer the pie to the serving plate, sprinkle the top lightly with cinnamon and powdered sugar and, with a sharp knife or a pizza wheel, cut into wedges. Serve immediately.
Phyllo or filo dough requires special handling techniques and plenty of butter. It can dry out and become useless very quickly.

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