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Moroccan Bisteeya


Mandi had this meal at a Moroccan restaurant when she was home in Philly for the holidays. She has wanted us to make it ever since she got back because she wanted to show me how it tasted. The reason we waited this long, was that you really need to be in the right mood to eat a bisteeya (ba-see-ya). It is like a dessert and a meal all wrapped into one! I understand the sweet/savory/spicy thing, and love it when it is nicely balanced, but this meal is overly sweet. I thought this would be a downside for me, but it wasn't! I totally loved every last bite.

I have to say, this meal was much easier than a lot of the international foods we tend to make. Because of this, I highly suggest people to try it out if you want to get into world cuisine but are intimidated by a lot of the recipes we make.

All 12 of these spices are for a Moroccan spice blend called ras el hanout.  If you don't want to buy all these spices and don't have them in your pantry, you can find ras el hanout at a specialty spice shop or online.

I love the look of whole nutmeg.

First toast the whole spices, and then grind everything up individually. You can just put this whole mess in a blender or food processor, but we were going rustic with it.

Put it all into a big pile and add 3 cloves of garlic and about a square inch of ginger. Your ras el hanout is ready to go!

We rubbed about 1/3 of the spice right on to the chicken.

Here we are letting saffron bloom in about 2 cups of hot water.

Are you still following me? So far we have made the spices, cut and rubbed the chicken, and bloomed the saffron.

We quickly seared the chicken in veg oil and took them off the heat. Next we added a diced onion and knob of butter.

10 minutes later, they look like this. Add the ras el hanout paste(It is a paste now because of the addition of the garlic and ginger.)

After 2 minutes, add the saffron water. Add a cup of chicken stock if you have any, but if you don't, don't go out of your way to get it and just add another cup of water.

Place chicken in the pot and simmer covered for 30 minutes, flipping once. Remove from heat and let it sit in the pot for 30 more minutes.

you can buy already blanched almonds, but to blanch them yourself, just boil them for one minute (and one minute only!), strain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking, then peel them.

Toast them up real good

Then blend them, and mix with sugar and cinnamon. I told you this meal is wacky! Soo still following me? chicken - cooking, almond sugar - done.

When the chicken is ready, gather all the meat from the bones and shred it up. Add a ¼ cup of cilantro, and ¼ cup of parsley. Also squeeze a lemon in there.

Keep that broth boiling after the chicken is removed. Slowly pour 2 beaten eggs into the broth while whisking. We DO want scrambled eggs! Most of the time when people are cooking with eggs they say, make sure to temper the eggs, because we don't want scrambled eggs! So I am happy to say today that we do want them. Poor scrambled eggs, why does no one want you?

Strain this goopy mess and let it sit for 5 minutes.

You will end up with a nice mix of eggs, onions, and spices.

I have never used filo dough before, but it was actually pretty easy.

Just make sure to keep the ones you haven't used yet covered. Take out one at a time and spread it with melted butter.

we built up one package, about 6 layers.

Mix the egg stuff in with the chicken stuff. This meal is breakfast lunch, dinner and dessert all in one. I think I'm turning into Rachael again!! It's a BLDD!

All ready for assembly!

Almond sugar first.

Then chicken. We also did a thin almond sugar layer in the center, more chicken, and almond sugar on top.

Close it up on top and into the oven.

There is always the "oh crap" moment when you flip something like this.

Snow of powdered sugar.

This is just cinnamon. This design is pretty traditional, but thinner lines, and more of them  Tic tac toe anyone?.

dessert for dinner? Or did we already eat? What time is it? What day is it? Nigella?

This meal is traditionally made with pigeon or squab, but most recipes I found use chicken. There are many spellings(bastilla, bstilla, b'stilla, bystilla, bistilla), but bisteeya was my favorite. The recipe I found that I liked most was here and we followed it fairly closely. Here are some changes we made:

We added fresh garlic and ginger to the ras el hanout, and used extra mase and no aniseed

The ras el hanout recipe on that page makes about 1/3 cup, but then the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons!!!! 2 measly teaspoons. We ended up using ALL of the spice we made. We rubbed the chicken with 1/3 of it, and used the other 2/3s when the recipe calls for it.

We seared and removed the chicken before starting with the onions.

Made one large bisteeya instead of smaller individual sized ones.

Used 1/4 cup of both herbs instead of what they suggest.

Doubled the almond sugar.

And finally, we used 2 eggs instead of 3.


This dish has been a question mark for me in a Moroccan recipe book i have.I keep looking at the photo asking myself if this would taste good or not. Most times im just too lazy to make it & im sure the rest of my family wouldn't really like it, which will leave me with heaps of leftovers. Im a sucker for the pastry though & anything that looks like a pie. I need to round up some pals who would be game enough to eat this with me.

marina you totally should make this. it was sooo tasty! im sure your friends would love it also :) wish you werent so far away i would volunteer my assistance in eating yours too! hehe

I LOVE Moroccan food so I'm psyched to be seeing b'stilla recipes popping up everywhere. I like that you went to so much trouble and did everything from scratch - it looks delicious!

Please NEVER double the sugar!! It becomes far too sweet and too much cinnamon is bad either. It is not the origianl anymore. Bisteeya does not taste like a dessert at all when you prepare well. Every child ADORES it! Officialy it is a starter and you eat it by hand.

So happy to find this! Your website is wonderful.

I would love to do this recipe and I would love to learn how to mix the spices. However your recipe does not have any measurements for each of the different spices. Will you be kind enough to give us the measurement for each and every spice you utilized in the recipe. Million thanks.

I made this about a couple of months ago for a friend from Morroco. He said, I made it like his mother!! I was so delicious! I came to look the recipe again to make it tonight!! .. Thanks!!

Thanks so much for posting this! I'm making one big bisteeya tomorrow, wondering how long you cooked yours for and at what temp?

I love the recipe and made it in a ceramic dish. The phyllo did not get crispy so I had to put it back in the oven after removing it from the pan. I would love to use a pan like the one you used. Can you tell me where you got it? Thanks!

This pan looks very similar to the drip pan I use for my barbecue (for example

The drip pan is made of aluminum and is fairly inexpensive. I suspect you'll be able to find something either identical or very similar at either a barbecue supply store or food equipment store (or even better, a restaurant equipment store).

There is definately a great deal to know about this issue.
I really like all of the points you've made.

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