Moroccan Pastilla Recipe

Moroccan Pastilla Recipe
Staff Writer

Moroccan food intrigues me with its exotic spices and happy melding of sweet and savory in unexpected places. My favorite dish in Morocco is the pastilla — a crunchy packet of long-simmered spiced poultry (often pigeon) and onions, eggs, and crunchy, sugared almonds.

I was fortunate to have chef Hicham Hassan of the Sofitel Fès Palais Jamaï show me how to make pigeon pastilla during my stay in Fes. Though he was classically trained in French cuisine, chef Hassan tells me he learned to make the best Moroccan food from the ladies in his kitchen, who were kind enough to give me hands-on instruction in this specialty.

Ready in
2 1/2 h
Deliver Ingredients


*Note: Create a mixture of equal parts cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ground ginger.


For the almonds

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2/3 cups almonds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the pastilla

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • One 2- to 2 ½-pound chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon quatre épices*
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • One 16-ounce package phyllo dough squares
  • Oil, for frying
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish
  • Cinnamon, for garnish


For the almonds

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and sugar. Cook until toasted, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until roughly chopped. Set aside.

For the pastilla

Melt the butter in the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, parsley, spices, saffron, salt, pepper, water, onion, and sugar. Cook until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 1 ½ hours, turning occasionally.

Remove the chicken from the pan, set aside, and reduce the cooking liquid over high heat until it thickens. Once the chicken has cooled, skin the chicken and shred the meat. Add the eggs to the cooking liquid, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until the eggs are cooked, stirring, about 3-5 minutes. Add the chicken to the mixture and stir to combine.

Place 2 phyllo squares on a plate. Add a dollop of the mixture (don't overfill) to the sheet, add a handful of almonds, and top with 2-3 more squares. Fold a corner in, and continue folding, working counterclockwise until you've created a round packet. Repeat to make all 6 pastilla.

Meanwhile, heat about ½-inch oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry each pastilla, flipping after 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Serve warm.

Moroccan Shopping Tip

Choose raw fruits, vegetables, and meats, and unprocessed foods.

Moroccan Cooking Tip

Substitute butter for olive oil, and bake, broil, or grill instead of fry.