Moroccan Memories: Eve’s Home-Made Chicken Bastilla Recipe

Eve Hill
3 min readFeb 18, 2018

Motivated by sweet (and savory) childhood memories of going out to special occasion Moroccan feasts, I finally got around to making my own version of Chicken Bastilla, a dish in which the chicken is simmered slowly in a satisfying blend of cinnamon and onion, then baked in buttery filo dough to puffy, crispy, golden perfection.

Because I first ate bastilla with my hands while sitting cross-legged on round cushions in a tapestry-laden, dimly lit restaurant, the chimes and charms of belly dancers swirling around me, bastilla has always been my idea of an exotic delicacy.

My simple, homemade recipe is also a scrumptious delight. A few ingredients, a few steps and a couple of hours cook time. Then you are free to enjoy your own bastilla feast at home. Eat it with your hands, with a knife and fork, and with your friends and family!

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, ground or cut into chunks
1 large onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil (onions)
2 Tablespooons butter (braise chicken)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 ½ cups chicken broth
2 eggs
3 oz blanched slivered almonds, toasted 3–5 minutes at 400 degrees
3 oz cooked garbanzo beans (optional)
filo dough, 6–8 oz
about 3 oz melted butter
1 egg yolk
powdered sugar & ground cinnamon, to decorate

Saute onions with olive oil over medium low heat until translucent and beginning to color.
When the onions are cooked, add the butter.
Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, sugar, salt and pepper. Blend.
Turn the heat up to medium.
Braise chicken.
Pour in chicken broth.
Simmer approximately one hour, or until about ½ cup of sauce remains.
Remove chicken, set aside.
Reduce heat to low.
Add 2 eggs to sauce. Stir constantly on low heat until the consistency is creamy. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chicken Chunks: shred chicken chunks with your hands. (Ground chicken: skip this step)
Stir together chicken, sauce, almonds and garbanzo beans (if desired).

Adding filo Dough:
Brush some of the melted butter into a pan (9 inch cake pan or rough equivalent)
Lay first sheet of filo dough in pan and brush sides with butter. Allow a portion of the filo sheet to overhang on the sides. Continue to layer sheets of filo, brushing seams and draping a portion of the sheet over the sides of the pan. (If sheets tear, brush with more butter and overlap pieces.) Continue until you have five layers.
Spread the chicken mixture into the center of the pan.
Fold the filo into a crust at the top:
Lift the overhangs of filo into the center, over the chicken mixture.
Lay two more flat sheets of filo on the top, brushing each with more melted butter as you go.
Brush the top of the Bastilla with egg yolk mixed with a few drops of water.
Bake at 350 degrees 40–50 minutes until puffy, crisp and golden.
Sift powdered sugar and cinnamon over the top.

Serve hot.


Here are a couple of other amazing versions of bastilla and where to find them.

Chicken Cilicia at La Mediterranee, San Francisco & Berkeley, CA

Chicken Bastilla at Restaurant Marrakesh, Epcot World Showcase, Orlando, FL

How do you enjoy your bastilla?