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These 10 B’stilla Recipes Are Making People To Fall In Love With North Africa

Mouth watering slices of a meat pie

Ever heard of a meal made with lots of love and patience? Then b’stilla, also known as pastilla, is it. It’s preparation has lots of steps and calls for a passionate heart to pull through. But once you are successful, you will never resist from making it right from your kitchen. More so, you will enjoy sharing your delicious b’stilla meat pie with family and friends. First of all, let’s understand the origin of this delicious cuisine.

Mouth watering slices of a meat pie
Mouthwatering slices of a meat pie (Photo Credit: Ali Tarhini ( Slashio ) on Unsplash)

Once upon a time, in the 15th century, Spain reconquered Granada. In the process, Moors were displaced and most of them immigrated to Morocco. At the same time, Sephardic Jews were also being displaced from Spain and most of them also settled in several parts of North Africa. It is therefore believed that most of b’stilla recipes were brought by these two communities who currently live in North Africa.

Interestingly, some claim that b’stilla recipes existed in Fez, Morocco way back in the eighth century. This was during the reign of Umayyad Caliphs. Regardless of its originality, b’stilla is one of the most popular African pies in the world. Here are some of the most common questions about b’stilla.

What Does B’stilla Mean?

Basically, b’stilla is coined from pastilla which is a Spanish word. It means ‘small pastry’ or ‘pill’, perhaps, referring to the delicate paper-thin sheets of pastry used to make the pie’s flaky and crispy crust. Since most of the Moroccans and North Africans at large, where b’stilla recipes spread from, use Arabic language, the ‘p’ in pastilla transformed into a ‘b’ hence the word b’stilla.

A delicious piece of a meat pie
A delicious piece of a meat pie (Photo Credit: Matt Seymour on Unsplash)

Which Country Created The B’stilla?

To point out a single country responsible for creating b’stilla recipes may not be entirely correct or precise. But it is commonly known to be created in Morocco, North Africa.  It is one of the most popular Moroccan cuisines that you must try when in Morocco or in any other part of the world where you can find it. Currently, this scrumptious meat pie is also popular in other North African countries like Tunisia and Algeria. It is also common in Israel, North America, and France.

How Do You Pronounce B’stilla?

Though the word b’stilla looks short and simple, it may be tricky for most to pronounce. Some pronounce it as pas-tee-ya and others bee-stee-ya. All in all, here is the correct pronunciation of this ancient meat pie that never loses its sumptuousness.

What’s B’stilla in a nutshell?

It is a meat pie that is traditionally made with sour and sweet pigeon meat. To the meat, almonds, onions, and beaten eggs are added. To give the meat pie that unique and bold flavor that you will fall in love with, spices like fresh coriander, saffron, and cinnamon are added. The nicely and skillfully done filling is then wrapped in thin pastry sheets also known as warqa after which it is baked until golden brown.

The ready b’stilla pie is then dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar and served hot. B’stilla is often taken as a starter and is mostly served on special occasions like weddings and birthday parties among others. If you can not get pigeon meat, substitute it with chicken or quail meat and you will get the same if not better results. The use of pigeon, chicken, or quail meat gives this pie a tick as far as nutrition is concerned. This is because white meat is a healthy source of animal protein which is a bonus to all meat and pastry lovers.

These 10 B’stilla Recipes Are Making People To Fall In Love

#1. Moroccan B’stilla By Marocmama

This is one of the few dishes that Moroccans can claim for their own. Unlike couscous or tajine which stretches across the Maghreb b’stilla is firmly routed in Morocco. Today, the most common type of b’stilla served is chicken but traditionally it was made with pigeon. Only recently has this dish become something that an average Moroccan person might eat – previously it was reserved only for royalty or the wealthy.

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Moroccan Bstilla By Marocmama

Yields8 ServingsQuarter (2 Servings)Half (4 Servings)Default (8 Servings)Double (16 Servings)Triple (24 Servings)
Prep Time15 minsCook Time1 hr 15 minsTotal Time1 hr 30 mins

This is made with a dough called ourka (work-a) that is a bit thicker than filo dough.  You can sometimes pick it up in Middle Eastern markets but if not filo dough works too. This recipe is a bit different than the traditional recipe but it’s how I’ve adapted it for my American kitchen.

 1 medium onion finely chopped
 3 -4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
 ¼ cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley
 2 tbsp minced cilantro
 1 tsp salt
 12 tsp pepper
 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  cup powdered sugar
 1 cup water
Almond Mixture
 ½ cup powdered sugar
 1 tsp ground cinnamon
 12 sheets thawed phyllo dough
 ½ cup melted butter
 ground cinnamon and powdered sugar for garnish

Ingredients

 1 medium onion finely chopped
 3 -4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
 ¼ cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley
 2 tbsp minced cilantro
 1 tsp salt
 12 tsp pepper
 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  cup powdered sugar
 1 cup water
Almond Mixture
 ½ cup powdered sugar
 1 tsp ground cinnamon
 12 sheets thawed phyllo dough
 ½ cup melted butter
 ground cinnamon and powdered sugar for garnish
Moroccan B’stilla By Marocmama

#2. B’stilla Moroccan Chicken Pie – my beating heart!! by Lambs’ Ears & Honey

B’stilla – or bisteeya or lots of other spellings – is a classic Moroccan chicken pie, traditionally made with pigeon or squab, but also with chicken, combining both sweet and savory elements. It is also something that I have been dying to try ever since I first saw a recipe for it. 

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Yields8 ServingsQuarter (2 Servings)Half (4 Servings)Default (8 Servings)Double (16 Servings)Triple (24 Servings)
Prep Time1 hrCook Time1 hr 20 minsTotal Time2 hrs 20 mins

This recipe for my Moroccan chicken pie is the adapted version that I finally placed with a flourish (and some baked carrots) on the dinner table last night. It’s, rich, sublimely tasty, and not difficult. If required, it can be made in two steps, making it great for a feasting table as it can be prepared in part the day before. 

 125 g ButterNOT margarine
 700 g chicken thighs, boneless
 1 onion, chopped
 2 cloves garlic, crushed
 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
 ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or dried chilli
 250 mls chicken stock
 1 pinch saffron threads, soaked in the stock
 1 lemon, juiced
 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
 1 bunch coriander
 2 eggs, beaten
 80 g toasted almonds chopped
 2 tbsp icing sugar
 1 tsp cinnamon
 1 pkt filo pastry

Ingredients

 125 g ButterNOT margarine
 700 g chicken thighs, boneless
 1 onion, chopped
 2 cloves garlic, crushed
 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
 ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or dried chilli
 250 mls chicken stock
 1 pinch saffron threads, soaked in the stock
 1 lemon, juiced
 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
 1 bunch coriander
 2 eggs, beaten
 80 g toasted almonds chopped
 2 tbsp icing sugar
 1 tsp cinnamon
 1 pkt filo pastry
B’stilla Moroccan Chicken Pie – my beating heart!! by Lambs’ Ears & Honey

#3. Moroccan Chicken Pie with Apricots and Almonds (B’Stilla) by Foodie On Board

I think that many cultures have a tradition of meat pies, or pastries filled with meat, but my new found favorite is this savory and sweet chicken phyllo pie from Morocco. I love the buttery crunch of the phyllo pastry and the way that Moroccans add sweetness to Moroccan Chicken Pie with Apricots and Almonds (B’Stilla) by combining the meat with dried fruit such as apricots or raisins, and then dusting the top of the pie with icing sugar and cinnamon.

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Moroccan Chicken Pie with Apricots and Almonds (B’Stilla) by Foodie On Board

Yields8 ServingsQuarter (2 Servings)Half (4 Servings)Default (8 Servings)Double (16 Servings)Triple (24 Servings)
Prep Time30 minsCook Time1 hrTotal Time1 hr 30 mins

The result is a rich, exotic dish with a surprising burst of sweetness when our taste buds meet the dried apricots and the dusting of sugar that tops the pie

 2 tbsp olive oil
 6 chicken thighs, skinless, bone in
 1 medium onion, diced
 1 tsp ginger
 1 tsp cumin
 ½ tsp turmeric
 ¼ tsp saffron
 ½ cup chicken stock
 2 eggs, beaten
 ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
 ¼ cup parsley, chopped
 1 cup dried apricots, rehydrated in boiling water or orange juice
 ½ cup round almonds, lightly toasted
 2 tbsp icing sugar
 ½ tsp cinnamon
 4 – 6 sheets phyllo, cut in half lengthwise

Ingredients

 2 tbsp olive oil
 6 chicken thighs, skinless, bone in
 1 medium onion, diced
 1 tsp ginger
 1 tsp cumin
 ½ tsp turmeric
 ¼ tsp saffron
 ½ cup chicken stock
 2 eggs, beaten
 ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
 ¼ cup parsley, chopped
 1 cup dried apricots, rehydrated in boiling water or orange juice
 ½ cup round almonds, lightly toasted
 2 tbsp icing sugar
 ½ tsp cinnamon
 4 – 6 sheets phyllo, cut in half lengthwise
Moroccan Chicken Pie with Apricots and Almonds (B’Stilla) by Foodie On Board

#4. Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin B’Stilla with Beetroot & Yoghurt By You Plate It

A B'Stilla is a traditional Moroccan pie, usually featuring pigeon or other poultry, liberally spiced, and finished with a sweet and spicy topping. Here we have made it vegetarian, incorporating all that sweetness and spice into the filling, and serving it with an earthy beetroot side. It's a little longer on the cooking time, but well worth the wait.

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Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin B'Stilla with Beetroot & Yoghurt By You Plate It

Yields6 ServingsQuarter (1.5 Servings)Half (3 Servings)Default (6 Servings)Double (12 Servings)Triple (18 Servings)
Prep Time50 minsCook Time20 minsTotal Time1 hr 10 mins

 400 g Butternut Pumpkin
 2 tsp Moroccan Strudel Spice
 80 g Filo Pastry
 1 Brown Onion
 1 tbsp Raisins
 1 Red Beetroot
 50 g Butter(pantry)
 1 tbsp Pine Nuts
 ½ tbsp Honey
 1 Small Bunch of Parsley & Mint
 1 Lemon

Ingredients

 400 g Butternut Pumpkin
 2 tsp Moroccan Strudel Spice
 80 g Filo Pastry
 1 Brown Onion
 1 tbsp Raisins
 1 Red Beetroot
 50 g Butter(pantry)
 1 tbsp Pine Nuts
 ½ tbsp Honey
 1 Small Bunch of Parsley & Mint
 1 Lemon
Moroccan Spiced Pumpkin B’Stilla with Beetroot & Yoghurt By You Plate It

#5. Moroccan Chickpea B’Stilla-Sweet, Savory and Showy By Robin Asbell

Moroccan food is a treasure trove of plant based flavors. Their traditional dishes, like tagine, are usually graced with plenty of vegetables, spices, sweet and tart balance, and fresh herbs. When I visit Moroccan restaurants, though, the vegetarian tagine is usually pretty bland, while the meat based dishes get all the attention. 

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Moroccan Chickpea B’Stilla-Sweet, Savory and Showy By Robinas Bell 2

Yields8 ServingsQuarter (2 Servings)Half (4 Servings)Default (8 Servings)Double (16 Servings)Triple (24 Servings)
Prep Time15 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time45 mins

That is why I like to make my own versions of Moroccan food, and borrow the combinations from the meaty recipes and use them to make spectacularly tasty plant based dishes.

 2 cups chopped onion
 1 tsp ground cumin
 ½ tsp cayenne
 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeasdrained and rinsed
 1 cup pitted prunessliced
 1 cup dried apricotchopped
 ¾ tsp salt
 2 tsp fresh lemon zest
 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
 1 cup coconut milk
 10 full sheets filo dough
 ½ cup whole almonds toasted and coarsely chopped
 ½ cup melted coconut oil

Ingredients

 2 cups chopped onion
 1 tsp ground cumin
 ½ tsp cayenne
 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeasdrained and rinsed
 1 cup pitted prunessliced
 1 cup dried apricotchopped
 ¾ tsp salt
 2 tsp fresh lemon zest
 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
 1 cup coconut milk
 10 full sheets filo dough
 ½ cup whole almonds toasted and coarsely chopped
 ½ cup melted coconut oil
Moroccan Chickpea B’Stilla-Sweet, Savory and Showy By Robin Asbell

#6. B’stilla (Moroccan chicken pie) by Delicious

This Moroccan chicken pie - B'stilla is as delicious as it is gorgeous. A delicious dish that fills your day with a beautiful smile

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B'stilla (Moroccan chicken pie) by Delicious

Yields6 ServingsQuarter (1.5 Servings)Half (3 Servings)Default (6 Servings)Double (12 Servings)Triple (18 Servings)
Prep Time15 minsCook Time40 minsTotal Time55 mins

 1 kg skinless, boneless chicken thigh fillets
 1 onion, finely chopped
 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
 5 cm piece (25g) ginger, peeled, finely grated
 ½ cup (80g) blanched almonds, finely chopped
 4 eggs, lightly beaten
 1 tbsp icing sugar mixture
 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked, chopped, plus extra to serve
 1 bunch coriander, leaves picked, chopped
 Finely grated zest & juice of 1 lemon
 100 g unsalted butter,melted
 10 sheets fresh filo pastry
SWEET AND SOUR CURRANTS
 1 small onion, thinly sliced
 2 tbsp brown sugar

Ingredients

 1 kg skinless, boneless chicken thigh fillets
 1 onion, finely chopped
 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
 5 cm piece (25g) ginger, peeled, finely grated
 ½ cup (80g) blanched almonds, finely chopped
 4 eggs, lightly beaten
 1 tbsp icing sugar mixture
 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked, chopped, plus extra to serve
 1 bunch coriander, leaves picked, chopped
 Finely grated zest & juice of 1 lemon
 100 g unsalted butter,melted
 10 sheets fresh filo pastry
SWEET AND SOUR CURRANTS
 1 small onion, thinly sliced
 2 tbsp brown sugar
B’stilla (Moroccan chicken pie) by Delicious

#7. Morrocan-Style Chicken Pie (B’STILLA) by Turn Table Kitchen

B’stilla. Now that’s a word you’ve probably never heard before (perhaps I’m being presumptuous). Until a few years ago, it certainly wasn’t a dish I was familiar with. But I’ve quickly learned to love it, and finally, finally attempted to make it at home. To be clear, this is not the traditional Moroccan dish made with squab and layers of phyllo dough. However, the concept is similar: the filling made with (in this case) chicken is loaded with a bevy of warming spices, fresh herbs and dotted with plump, golden raisins.

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Morrocan-Style Chicken Pie (B’STILLA) by Turn Table Kitchen

Yields6 ServingsQuarter (1.5 Servings)Half (3 Servings)Default (6 Servings)Double (12 Servings)Triple (18 Servings)
Prep Time20 minsCook Time1 hr 10 minsTotal Time1 hr 30 mins

 2 tbsp olive oil
 1 onion, diced
 ½ tsp turmeric
 2 cups chicken broth
 1 ½ lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (preferably organic)
  cup golden raisins
 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped finely
 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped finely
For the phyllo layers:
 ½ cup almonds
 ½ tsp kosher salt
 10 sheets (about 17×12 inches) of defrosted phyllo
 ½ cup buttermelted

Ingredients

 2 tbsp olive oil
 1 onion, diced
 ½ tsp turmeric
 2 cups chicken broth
 1 ½ lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (preferably organic)
  cup golden raisins
 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped finely
 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped finely
For the phyllo layers:
 ½ cup almonds
 ½ tsp kosher salt
 10 sheets (about 17×12 inches) of defrosted phyllo
 ½ cup buttermelted
Morrocan-Style Chicken Pie (B’STILLA) by Turn Table Kitchen

#8. Moroccan Pigeon Pie (B’stilla) by Saveur


This sumptuous Moroccan starter—a spiced poultry pie enriched with scrambled eggs and decorated with ground almonds, sugar, and cinnamon—is typically served at weddings and other festive occasions. Traditionally the pastry known as warqa and bone-in pigeon are used to make b’stilla, but phyllo and chicken thighs, quail, or Cornish game hen make excellent substitutes.

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Moroccan Pigeon Pie (B’stilla) by Saveur

Yields8 ServingsQuarter (2 Servings)Half (4 Servings)Default (8 Servings)Double (16 Servings)Triple (24 Servings)
Prep Time15 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time45 mins

 3 lbs pigeon (5-6) or bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
 3 cups chicken stock
 3 eggs
 3 tbsp olive oil
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 1 medium yellow onion, minced
 1 tbsp ras el hanout
 ½ tsp red chile flakescrushed
 ¼ tsp saffron threads,mixed with 1 tsp. water
 3 tbsp minced cilantro
 3 tbsp minced parsley
 Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
 6 tbsp unsalted buttermelted, plus more

Ingredients

 3 lbs pigeon (5-6) or bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
 3 cups chicken stock
 3 eggs
 3 tbsp olive oil
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 1 medium yellow onion, minced
 1 tbsp ras el hanout
 ½ tsp red chile flakescrushed
 ¼ tsp saffron threads,mixed with 1 tsp. water
 3 tbsp minced cilantro
 3 tbsp minced parsley
 Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
 6 tbsp unsalted buttermelted, plus more
Moroccan Pigeon Pie (B’stilla) by Saveur

#9. Marrakech B’stilla by Taste

B'stilla, pronounced pas-tee-ya, is a delicious pie traditionally made with young pigeons for special occasions. This is a simplified version with chicken.

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Marrakech B'stilla by Taste

Yields8 ServingsQuarter (2 Servings)Half (4 Servings)Default (8 Servings)Double (16 Servings)Triple (24 Servings)
Prep Time15 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time45 mins

 1.60 kg free-range chicken, quartered
 2 Spanish onions, finely chopped
 ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
 ¼ cup fresh coriander, chopped
 2 tbsp olive oilplus extra, to brush
 50 g butter
 2 tbsp caster sugar
 175 g blanched whole almondsroasted, chopped
 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
 Icing sugarto dust
 Ground cinnamon, to dust

Ingredients

 1.60 kg free-range chicken, quartered
 2 Spanish onions, finely chopped
 ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
 ¼ cup fresh coriander, chopped
 2 tbsp olive oilplus extra, to brush
 50 g butter
 2 tbsp caster sugar
 175 g blanched whole almondsroasted, chopped
 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
 Icing sugarto dust
 Ground cinnamon, to dust
Marrakech B’stilla by Taste

#10. B’Stilla (Moroccan Chicken Pie) by Burma Spice

B’Stilla is a Moroccan chicken pie that features both savory and slightly sweet flavors that mix surprisingly well together. This meat pie is made with delicate layers of flaky, buttered phyllo pastry and filled in three tiers with heartily spiced chicken. (Although, traditionally, this dish would be made with squab or pigeon.)

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B’Stilla (Moroccan Chicken Pie) by Burma Spice

Yields1 ServingQuarter (0.25 Servings)Half (0.5 Servings)Default (1 Serving)Double (2 Servings)Triple (3 Servings)
Prep Time30 minsCook Time1 hrTotal Time1 hr 30 mins

Perfectly balanced, the spices dance aromatically in your mouth with every bite. We can see why B’Stilla is traditionally served for special occasions. We can also see how hungry, eager faces sitting around a table, awaiting a plate full of savory-sweet meat pie, could become just enough of a special occasion to justify making and serving this delicious dish…anytime.

 2 lbs chicken thighs, breast or legs
 2 tbsp water, heated
 ¼ tsp saffron threadscrumbled
 2 tbsp olive oil
 1 onion, diced
 3 garlic cloves, minced
 1 tsp ginger, minced
 1 ½ tbsp ras el hanout
 ½ tsp red chile flakes(or substitute ¼ teaspoon ground Thai chili)
 3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
 3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
 3 eggs, beaten
Phyllo:
 10 - 14 sheets phyllothawed if frozen (depending on whether you use 2 or 3 sheets phyllo between layers)
 1 tbsp cinnamon
 ½ cup butter, melted
 whole almonds (optional garnish)
Almond Cinnamon Sugar:
  cup Marcona almonds(or your favorite almonds), and a handful of almonds for garnish
 3 tbsp sugar
 1 tsp cinnamon
For making confectioner’s sugar:
 ¼ cup palm sugar

Ingredients

 2 lbs chicken thighs, breast or legs
 2 tbsp water, heated
 ¼ tsp saffron threadscrumbled
 2 tbsp olive oil
 1 onion, diced
 3 garlic cloves, minced
 1 tsp ginger, minced
 1 ½ tbsp ras el hanout
 ½ tsp red chile flakes(or substitute ¼ teaspoon ground Thai chili)
 3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
 3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
 3 eggs, beaten
Phyllo:
 10 - 14 sheets phyllothawed if frozen (depending on whether you use 2 or 3 sheets phyllo between layers)
 1 tbsp cinnamon
 ½ cup butter, melted
 whole almonds (optional garnish)
Almond Cinnamon Sugar:
  cup Marcona almonds(or your favorite almonds), and a handful of almonds for garnish
 3 tbsp sugar
 1 tsp cinnamon
For making confectioner’s sugar:
 ¼ cup palm sugar
B’Stilla (Moroccan Chicken Pie) by Burma Spice

Conclusion

Good food makes the heart glad. Thomas Keller once said that “A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” So, go ahead and give soul to the b’stilla recipes above and be kind enough to share your experience in the comments section below. Once you make your b’stilla you will understand the Tunisian proverb that says,

“They ate our food, and forgot our names.”

You will also agree with Alan D. Wolfelt when he said, “Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” Will you express your love through these b’stilla recipes? We cant wait to share your experience.

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