The Traditional Moroccan Bastila

I have chosen to go with the traditional Bastila recipe here,

because as you know, I do have a soft spot for old, traditional recipes. Besides, this one is elaborate, lavish and absolutely succulent! But feel free to adapt this recipe to chicken, turkey (think Christmas with a difference) or quails. There are many versions to Bastila, more so today, with varieties of fillings and even a dessert version (find the recipe on this link). However, the original traditional Bastila is known to be a savoury one that is filled with pigeon meat, and also known to be the specialty of Fes. This Bastila is therefore also referred to as the Bastila of Fes. With that said, Bastila is now very well known made with a chicken filling, and at times even using quail meat. When I asked the ladies in Morocco they instructed that all fillings are made with the same ingredients, including spices and aromatics and the only difference is the type of meat used. The only exception of course are fish and seafood, which use different spices and aromatics.

Bastila sheets are easily found nowadays, however, if you live in an area where these are nowhere to be found, then follow the amazingly easy recipe on this link to make these sheets at home. Also I have included for you a video on how to make the Moroccan Cigars and Brewat using the same warka (Bastila Sheets).



Serves: 6 Cook Time: 1:40 hours
  • 7 large Warka (Bastila Sheets), see recipe on this link
  • egg wash to brush the Bastila before baking in the oven
  • icing sugar to garnish the finished dish
  • powdered cinnamon to garnish the finished dish

For the filling
Tier 1- the almond mixture

  • 250g toasted almonds then crushed
  • 3 mastic crystals finely crushed
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Tier 2 – the pigeon mixture

  • 4-5 pigeons, cleaned and ready to cook
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bunch coriander, leaves separated from stems and kept whole
  • a generous pinch saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup orange blossom water
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground saffron
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup DS Premium Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt & black pepper to taste

Start with the pigeons. Make sure they are cleaned thoroughly and pat dried. In a bowl mix together all the spices, seasoning, half the quantity of olive oil, the saffron and the orange blossom water and stir to mix. Rub the pigeons inside and out with this mixture and set the bowl aside.

In a tagine pot, place the remaining half the quantity of the olive oil and top with the chopped onion, crushed garlic and coriander leaves. Season with salt and black pepper and mix all well. Place the pigeons on top of this mixture and add 1/2 cup water. Cover the pot and cook over high heat for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the almond mixture, by mixing all its ingredients very well together. Set aside until ready to use.

When the pigeons are finished cooking, pull their meat and discard the skin and bones. then assemble the Bastila.

To assemble, place 4 Bastila sheets intersecting at the centre, then place 1 sheet in the centre where all the four sheets meet. Top with the pigeon filling and spread evenly, keeping the edges free to pull in, when done.

Top the pigeon filling with another Bastila sheet then top with the almond filling. Spread evenly then cover with another sheet of Bastila, tucking in all the edges of this final sheet. pull the bottom sheets upwards and fold over to cover all the sides of the pie. Your pie should now be fully covered all round.

brush with the egg wash to keep all sheets in tact, then carefully flip the pie upside down. Brush the top part with the egg wash and bake in a 200F (150C) oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Then sprinkle with the icing sugar and cinnamon as in the picture above.

Serve warm.


As with anyone, the Moroccans have created many versions of this dish and many ways to serve it. In the picture here Bastilla is made into a mini version, and even some rolls as well as into mini triangular shaped pieces. These could all be an excellent variation to the way you serve Bastila especially in pass around menus and cocktail events. Provided we understand and derive from the original, change is always welcome.

The wording here is carefully chosen – Bastila (pronounced Bas-ti-la) is the way the Moroccan people pronounce this recipe. The french adopted the name Pastilla (pronounced Pa-sti-ya) in reference to the same recipe, and some French people have also given it the reference Pastille. Some other people name it Bastiya as well. There are many names and pronunciations in reference to the same recipe, however, I chose to reference it the way the Moroccan people do, as after all this is a Moroccan recipe from the Traditional Moroccan Cuisine. Feel free to refer to it however way you please, and rest assured we are all referring to the same traditional Moroccan dish.

How about you? Have you tried Bastila before? Which version is your favourite (chicken, meat, pigeon or fish and seafood Bastila)? Is your recipe similar to this one which I have learnt in Morocco? Or do you have a different recipe for it? What do you think of the savoury/sweet combination? Let me hear your thoughts.


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