As it is generously doused with powdered sugar, this famous Moroccan chicken pie masquerades as a dessert until you cut into it. Wonderfully spiced with saffron and cinnamon, the dish has a combination of sweet and savory flavors that's surprising.
- 8 ounces slivered almonds
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus additional for top of bastilla
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar, plus additional for top of bastilla
- 1/4 cup butter, plus 1/4 cup for brushing on the phyllo dough
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 1 rotisserie cooked chicken (about 3 cups), skin removed, meat taken off bones and shredded
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 generous pinch saffron
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 eggs, cracked and beaten with 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- Prepared phyllo dough, defrosted in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight
Toast the almonds in a dry medium skillet until golden. Reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish. Grind the remaining almonds with the cinnamon and powdered sugar in a food processor, until the almonds are coarsely ground, set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter, then add the onion and saute until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the shredded cooked chicken, cinnamon, saffron, parsley, cilantro, and salt. Simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and the 1/4 cup powdered sugar with a pinch of salt and pinch of pepper and add to the chicken mixture. Stir the eggs through for a few minutes, then remove the chicken mixture from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Brush a 10-inch springform pan with melted butter or cooking spray. Place four phyllo sheets on your work surface, overlapping slightly to create a large square. Brush with butter and place 4 more sheets on top. Sprinkly with half of the almond mixture. Repeat with 4 more phyllo sheets, brushing with butter before sprinkling the rest of the almond mixture over the phyllo. Arrange the prepared phyllo into the pan, so the the phyllo overlaps the edges.
Spoon the chicken mixture into the phyllo. Fold the sides onto the top of the filling, and brush the top with more butter. Bake at 400°F for 45 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing the bastilla from the pan and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and reserved slivered almonds. Slice into wedges and serve, or, as the Moroccans do, tear it apart and eat with your fingers.