Chicken Pastilla (Chicken B’Stilla)

Chicken Pastilla – Cooking with Locals in Fes, Morocco

chicken pastilla image

The Food Market in Fes

We’re out of breath, but fortunately it has been a mostly downhill walk. Jelle switches on the GPS on his phone and clutches it, intently. We’re both certified directionless  We are about to enter the narrow entrance to the market in Fes, Northern Morocco for our cooking class at the Clock Cafe. We’re 5 minutes late and we dive in head first into the cobbled narrow main street with vendors selling breads, vegetables, figs and live chickens. Donkeys laden with pails of milk and baskets of goods are led slowly through; we step out of the way.

Making B'stilla in Fes, Morocco

 Luckily, the cafe is only a few navigable turns away and down a narrow alley. We’re welcomed and taken with a few fellow travellers upstairs where we will will cooking for the morning.

Clock Cafe is possibly the coolest spot to hang out in Fes – packs of American students come here to hang out in between their Arabic lessons, yoga classes, pottery and henna tattoo sessions. All this makes this multi-level cafe very popular with the young and well-heeled.

But before our class can commence we need ingredients and we go back out into the market. Walking amongst locals buying and haggling for produce for their day’s meal imbues us foreigners with a feeling of authenticity. Or we’d like to believe it does.


The chicken we’ll use during the class is slaughtered in front of us. Naturally, we want to linger and take pictures of everything. The locals are patient and our chef and guide maneuver us out of the way. We sample a market breakfast of large flat breads with a spicy relish, olives and dates.

Clock Cafe Cooking class, Fes Morocco

Instagram pics: around the market in Fes and images from Clock Cafe Cooking class

For the next few hours we are occupied in the kitchen sharing the task of chopping, braising, mixing, kneading and stirring. We take our pastries and dessert cookies to a communal bakery (there is one located on almost every street) and wait while they brown in the wood fire ovens, the temperatures searing-hot.Super fun Mohamed with our tray of cookies from communal oven

The bakery charges the equivalent of R10 a tray and the man tending the fire knows which bread belongs to which family just by the shape of it. There are very few families who mark their breads or trays. We saw this in all of the communal bakeries we popped into. It’s truly amazing.

Starving, the anticipation gnawing at us, we are served the bountiful meal we prepared, on the roof top garden. We end with mint tea, as one must in Morocco.


chicken b'stilla recipe


Pasilla (B’stilla) is unique in that it is both savoury and enhanced with sweet, in the form of icing sugar, honey and orange blossom water. Despite initial reservation, it is a spectacularly scrumptious combination and I do hope you try it. Pigeon pastilla is the dish to look out for in Northern Morocco, but pigeon isn’t always easily available.

phyllo pastry pastilla


4 chicken breasts

4 strands saffron

3 slices ginger, 1/2 cm thickness

4 T parsley and coriander finely chopped

40 g butter

1 red onion, super finely diced

1/2 cinnamon quail

salt, to taste

4 extra large eggs whisked

2 T orange blossom water, plus extra for serving (optional but recommended)

30 g flaked almonds

honey to taste

10-12 sheets Mediterranean Delicacies phyllo pastry

melted butter for brushing


Moroccan pastilla image



1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil, add chicken breasts, saffron, ginger, parsley, coriander, butter, onion and cinnamon. Lower heat and allow to simmer for an hour or more, until the meat is tender and starts to shred when pulled with a fork. Top up with water if needed.

2. When all the water is absorbed, add almonds and turn to lowest heat setting.

3. Add 3/4 of the whisked eggs slowly, beat with fork.

4. Season with salt and honey to taste and allow to cool.

5. Butter 5–6 phyllo pastry sheets with a pastry brush and stack neatly one on top of the other. Use a sharp knife to slice the pastry sheets in half widthwise.

6.Add 1/4 of the shredded chicken to the halved pastry and form into a round using your hands. Lift one corner up, brush with egg wash and press over the chicken mixture and continue until you have a roughly round pastry pie. Tuck the loose ends under one side and place the smooth, seamless side up. Brush this side with egg wash.

Tip: cut of a litte extra pastry for a smoother, less bulky result but make sure you seal the pie well.

7. Repeat with remaining phyllo and place the pies on a greased baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius

8. When ready, dust with icing sugar. Serve with orange blossom water on the side.

This is lovely served warm.

Chicken pastilla icing sugar

This post forms part of the series of recipes I am preparing for Mediterranean Delicacies. It is a Food and the Fabulous Endorsed project and I will be remunerated for it.

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  1. Mandy Fernandes February 4, 2013 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    I think the next post will be about Morroco?

  2. John February 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    These have all the things I love in food. Colour taste and just right for our hot climate

  3. Abigail moodley February 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    next visit spain!:) love this recipe

  4. John February 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Let’s visit Spain next – howzat?

  5. Louise Wierda February 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm - Reply


  6. Monique Vermeulen February 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    You will be visiting Morocco!
    Fez to be correct. Hope the weather is nice!! 🙂

  7. Gabi February 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    I’m hoping and guessing you do your next post on food from Turkey! I love the fragrance of Turkish food.

  8. Lina De Bruyn February 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    Israel might be your next destination

  9. Ann Fraser February 4, 2013 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Great article, I guess it’s Egypt next.

  10. sudika February 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Definitely sounds Morroccan!

  11. Hayley Rhode February 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    I think your next destination will be Italy?
    Love your recipes!!

  12. Letlotlo February 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    i think it will be Morocco!!

  13. Rosalia February 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    looks amazing! definitely Portugal next 🙂

  14. Scott February 4, 2013 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    I’m thinking Portugal, but it doesn’t matter- looking forward to seeing it 🙂

  15. Annelize Daniels February 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Great post! I hope Israel is the next stop! 🙂

  16. Annette Milne February 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm - Reply


  17. Megan Arnold February 4, 2013 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    Having seen some of your gorgeous recipes,the Limoncello recipe makes me think that you may be visiting Italy next, although Portugal also stands a very good chance! Wishing you an enormous amount of fun wherever you go next!

  18. Rene Groyer February 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Mmn I think Spain.These pictures and recipes are making me drool at the mouth.Yum !

  19. Kathryn February 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    I think it should be Spain next – a hop across on the ferry??!

  20. Ilze Esterhuizen February 4, 2013 at 6:41 pm - Reply


  21. Carla Viana February 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    (1a) Your Question:
    Guess next destination featured?

    (1b) My Answer:
    Well your question is in the past tense so it was Fes, Northern Morocco.

    (2a) However if it was meant to be interpreted, guess the next destination to be featured?

    (2b) Any country along the Mediterranean sea,close to Morocco… to me that would be
    South Portugal or
    South of Spain or
    South of France or
    Israel or
    South Italy or
    Lebanon 😀

    I believe all these countries cook and use chick peas liberally, whether in pastes, salades or main meal dishes -YUMMY! Thanks and Bravo to the Organizers of Mediterranean Delicacies

    • Emy Mathews February 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm - Reply

      spain, I think!

  22. Carla Viana February 4, 2013 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    Could it be …. Col delle Nocci – A rustic, Mediterranean villa in Italy ! 😀 OMW Such wonderful country living !

  23. Hilary Hooper February 4, 2013 at 7:44 pm - Reply


  24. Salochana February 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm - Reply


  25. Roanne February 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm - Reply


  26. Tharishia February 4, 2013 at 9:10 pm - Reply


  27. Cathy Badenhorst February 4, 2013 at 11:13 pm - Reply


  28. Colleen February 5, 2013 at 5:43 am - Reply

    The picnic basket looks so inviting. Reminds me of lazy summer evenings along the Cote Azur in Southern France

  29. Imelda February 5, 2013 at 5:51 am - Reply


  30. Gwen Lepnik February 5, 2013 at 6:09 am - Reply

    Les Northern Morocco

  31. Sally February 5, 2013 at 6:13 am - Reply

    England. The picnic basket looks Devine, would love to enjoy it’s delicacies.

  32. Stephanie February 5, 2013 at 6:28 am - Reply

    I am in love with Barcelona, Spain and nothing beats a picnic with delicious snacks and good wine being enjoyed on the Barceloneta.

  33. Linda Laing February 5, 2013 at 6:40 am - Reply


  34. Ailsa Porter February 5, 2013 at 7:28 am - Reply

    Spain? I haven’t heard of recipes from Italy with chickpeas!
    Morocco – You’ve been there already if I’m not mistaken!

  35. GR AM MOODLEY February 5, 2013 at 7:35 am - Reply

    Cape Town

  36. Preshika February 5, 2013 at 8:11 am - Reply

    Next destination : France

  37. Ruth February 5, 2013 at 8:41 am - Reply


  38. Christiana February 5, 2013 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Next visit Madeira – Funchal

  39. Tania Lomax February 5, 2013 at 9:25 am - Reply

    All things Morrocon

  40. Pienaar Kloppers February 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm - Reply


  41. Daniela Cardoso February 5, 2013 at 9:22 pm - Reply


  42. MJ February 6, 2013 at 12:04 am - Reply


  43. Mary Kircher February 6, 2013 at 3:19 am - Reply

    I’m thinking it is Lebanon next ….

  44. Gail February 6, 2013 at 7:03 am - Reply

    next South Italy

  45. Benjine Gerber February 6, 2013 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Perhaps France!

  46. Benjine February 6, 2013 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Oops, you just did Greece, let me guess Turkey!

  47. Mike February 6, 2013 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Next destination looks like FRANCE.

  48. lynn strydom February 6, 2013 at 10:45 am - Reply


  49. amy taylor February 7, 2013 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Lebanon (hopefully), Portugal or France. I’m having a love affair with Lebanese food at the moment so that would be PERFECT for me 😉

  50. Dawn Wallenkamp February 7, 2013 at 11:37 am - Reply


  51. Rohini Pillay February 7, 2013 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Morocco for the next destination. Yay.

  52. Emma Birk February 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Texas for the next destination.

  53. Niki Meletakos February 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm - Reply


  54. Nicola February 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    I think the destination of your next post will be Spain.

  55. Susan Ayers February 11, 2013 at 9:22 am - Reply

    I am with Emma up there… Texas next?

  56. LinLing February 11, 2013 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Im thinking Algeria, North African, yet strong ties to the Mediterranean.

  57. Wendy Bond February 11, 2013 at 10:12 am - Reply

    I think it is Morocco

  58. […] Food and The Fabulous […]

  59. Mary-Anne March 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    I adore Bastillya! My son-in-law’s mum makes the phyllo by ha d and it is amazing. She does it or the borek dough on the dining room table just as she did in Yugoslavia as a chef. It is so tender and flakey. I don’t have the patience and admit to buying prepared phyllo. I ha e never eaten the sweet bastillya, yet

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