Chicken Pastilla

I don't know about you, but as far as I am concerned, there are not that many dishes that gave me a blast and for which I remember where and when I got them for the first time. Pastilla is one of those few, 43 years ago, at the restaurant Al Mounia in Casablanca.

Pastilla is one of the iconic dishes of the so rich Moroccan cuisine, served in weddings and other celebration events. This is a pie featuring three characteristics:

1.     it associates savory and sweet tastes,

2.     it is made of a superposition of layers, and

3.     it is wrapped in a pastry made of crunchy pastilla, or brick, sheets stacked upon each other.

Its filling could include  chicken, pigeon, or even  fish or vegetables, as well as onion jam, ground  almonds, honey, eggs, and a lot of spices and herbs: cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, ginger, raz-el-hanout, cilantro, parsley…

For this recipe, I follow more or less a recipe by my friend Choumicha, a Moroccan cooking show presenter and blogger with a few personal twists here and there. Due to the number of preparations and cooking phases, this is a dish that is longer to make than difficult. But it is definitively worth the time spent to complete it.

Levels of difficulty








60 minutes


>3 hours


Ingredients 4 servings

For the pastilla sheets (~8 needed):

§  Flour, water, salt, raz-el-hanout, cinnamon, melted ghee

§  A brush and a crêpe pan

For the 1st stuffing layer:

§  2 big chicken legs (~400 g)

§  2 big yellow onions (~500g)

§  2 eggs

§  1r 2  tsp. of honey

§  1 large handful of chopped flat parsley and 1 large handful of chopped cilantro

§  ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground turmeric, saffron, raz-el-hanout, pepper, salt, olive oil, ghee

For the 2nd stuffing layer:

§  150 g of almonds toasted in argan oil and ground

§  2 tbsp. of sugar

§  ground cinnamon

§  orange blossom water

§  melted ghee

For the pastry and the decoration (optional):

§  Powdered sugar

§  Ground cinnamon

§  Minced almonds

§  1 tsp. of honey

§  Crushed almonds

§  Dried rosebuds


The pastilla sheets:

You can either buy ready-to-use pastilla or brick sheets, or make your own:

§  Brush a flour-water-spice batter on the bottom of a moderately hot crêpe pan like you would do a crêpe, but cook it one side only

§  After 45/60 seconds, remove it with your finger or with a crêpe spatula

§  Coat each of them with a generous quantity of melted ghee and cover with a parchment paper sheet to avoid that they dry up

The 1st stuffing layer:

§  Put olive oil in a pot, add the chopped onions, the chopped herbs and the chicken, and simmer, lid on, for around 90 minutes together, in a pot, lid on

§  After around 90 minutes or when the chicken is really tender inside, take out the chicken legs, bone them, remove their skin and shred them

§  Add the honey in the onion jam

§  Take 3 or 4 tbsp. of this onion jam and mix it with the shredded chicken

§  Let simmer the remaining onion jam, lid off, for about another hour or till sufficiently dried

§  Add 2 egg whites and mix them with the jam. Keep the yolks

§  Adjust the seasonings

§  Place 5 or 6 pastilla sheets on the bottom of a pan used as a mold, offsetting some of them so that they covered a wider area

§ Spread the shredded chicken on the bottom

§  Then spread the onion jam, breaking and spreading the egg yolks on the jam

§  And finally cover the whole with the ground almond layer

§  Place the 2 or 3 remaining sheets on top, making sure to stud them in the bottom sheets

§  Flip over the whole and place the pastilla on a flat baking sheet with a ghee-oiled parchment in-between

§  Bake it for around 30/45 minutes depending on your oven (in fact, visual and tactile controls are important) at 350F

§  Let it cool down a bit and decorate it according to your style and feeling: here, it is surrounded by sliced almonds mixed with honey, covered by powdered sugar, with cinnamon, ground almonds and crushed rosebuds spread all over the top