B’stilla – Moroccan Chicken Pie

image of B'stilla - Moroccan Chicken Pie

My company’s Christmas party last year was held at a local Tapas restaurant called Mi Luna. It was my first time at a Tapas restaurant and I was happy and excited to sample their little plates. One of the most interesting dishes was called B’stilla, which is a chicken pie made with cinnamon and sugar, wrapped in a flaky phyllo crust. I loved it!

So yesterday, when I saw a reference to B’stilla go by during my online travels, I became obsessed with making it at home. I had chicken and phyllo in the freezer at home, so all I needed was a recipe. I looked at several recipes, but no single one of them matched what I had in the pantry or what I had in mind. So I made up my own! The end result was delicious and not difficult at all.

I made mine as individual pies in 5″ ramekins, but you could do this as one single large pie, as little mini pies using a muffin pan, or even just fold little envelopes with your phyllo and make hand-held pies.

You can see in my picture that the top of my pies is quite “rustic” looking. I tried a new technique with the phyllo recommended by Alton Brown in his Baklava episode. Instead of defrosting the phyllo in the fridge overnight, he suggests taking it straight from the freezer and microwaving it. He says this gets rid of any dampness and as long as you use it right away, it’s fine.

Um, not so much.

That might work (kinda) for baklava, where you are only making flat sheets. But if you want to be able to fold the phyllo at all, I DO NOT recommend this. The phyllo was quite brittle in some places and damp and stuck together in others. I usually love Alton’s techniques, but I’m afraid this one was a no-go. I had difficulty separating the sheets and folding was pretty much impossible.

Nonetheless, it all worked out okay in the end for this dish and I think the messy tops actually makes it look pretty. I might even pile some shreds on top the next time I make these to approximate the effect! But I definitely won’t be nuking my phyllo anymore.

A note on working with phyllo. I have found that using spray oil is much, much easier than trying to evenly brush a thin layer of butter or oil onto the dough. I like the spray because I can get a much more even coverage while using less oil. Plus, it saves on a few calories and saturated fat. But if you prefer, by all means use the traditional method of brushing with melted butter. It will all work out the same in the end.

B’stilla – Moroccan Chicken Pie


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄8 tsp Saffron crumbled
  • 1⁄2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 1⁄2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1⁄3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1⁄2 lemon juiced
  • 6 sheets phyllo dough thawed
  • Butter flavored cooking spray (or 1/4 cup melted butter)
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1⁄8 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Spray a large skillet liberally with cooking spray and heat over medium. Saute onion until tender, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and saute briefly, until fragrant. Stir in cinnamon, turmeric and saffron for about a minute, then sprinkle sprinkle flour and stir for another minute. Add broth and bring to a simmer.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to broth. Poach chicken in simmering broth (reduce heat if needed to prevent overboiling), uncovered, until cooked through, approximately 15 minutes. Add chopped apricots. Remove chicken to a plate and allow to cool just until you can shred it.
  3. Shred coarsely and return to skillet.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Continue to simmer until sauce thickens and covers chicken thickly, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you prepare the phyllo.
  6. Mix almonds, powdered sugar, salt and cinnamon in a food processor until finely ground.
  7. Take 6 sheets of phyllo and cut them in half, giving you 12 half sheets. You will use 3 half-sheets for each ramekin.
  8. Lay one half-sheet of phyllo on work area and spray lightly but completely with butter flavored cooking spray (alternatively, brush with melted butter). Gently press into the bottom of your ramekin, allowing ends to flop over sides. Lightly sprinkle with a spoonful of almond mixture. Spray another half-sheet and press into ramekin in the opposite direction of the first one. Lightly sprinkle with almond mixture. Spray one more half-sheet of phyllo and press into the ramekin, whichever direction you prefer. Repeat with remaining ramekins.
  9. Using a slotted spoon, divide chicken mixture among your ramekins. Fold ends of phyllo over top and press to seal. Sprinkle lightly with almond mixture. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until phyllo is golden brown.
  10. Serve immediately.

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