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Pastilla, besṭila
TypeMeat pie
Place of originAndalusia
Region or stateMorocco
Main ingredientsWarka dough, broth, spices; squab, chicken, fish or offal

Pastilla (Moroccan Arabic: بسطيلة‎, romanized: bəsṭila) is a traditional Moroccan dish of Andalusian origin consumed in countries of the Maghreb. It has also spread to Algeria and Tunisia.[1] Pastilla is said to be "uniquely Moroccan, intricate and grand, fabulously rich and fantastical".[2]


Fish pastilla in Beni Mellal

The name of the pie comes from the Spanish word 'pastilla', meaning in modern Spanish either pill or "small pastry" after the transformation of the phoneme "p" into "b" that is specific to the Arabic language.[3] It is an elaborate meat pie traditionally made of squab (fledgling pigeons). As squabs are often hard to get, shredded chicken is more often used today; pastilla can also use fish or offal as a filling.[4] Pastilla is generally served as a starter at the beginning of special meals.[5]

Classic savoury pastilla[edit]

It is a pie which combines sweet and salty flavours; a combination of crisp layers of the crêpe-like werqa dough (a thinner cousin of phyllo dough), savory meat slow-cooked in broth and spices and then shredded, and a crunchy layer of toasted and ground almonds, cinnamon, and sugar.[6]

The filling is made a day ahead, and is made by browning the meat pieces in oil. The pieces are then transferred to a bowl, and with the remaining oil, onions, water, parsley, and various spices are cooked. The liquid is then chilled, and after, thickened to form a custard-like sauce with beaten eggs. The flesh and skin from the bones is shredded and added to the sauce, and it is chilled overnight.[citation needed]

In a round pizza pan, the first dough layer is added, and butter brushed onto it. The cook adds the sauce over the dough, and places two more sheets on top. It is then baked, sprinked with confectioner's sugar and perhaps more cinnamon, and served.[7]

Pastilla with milk[edit]

A sweet pastilla

In the traditional Fassi cuisine, pastilla can also be served as a dessert, in which case, the pastilla is called Jowhara (which means in English jewel) or "Pastilla with milk". This pastilla is also made of warka and a milky cream put between the sheets. The Jowhara is flavored with orange flower water and decorated with cinnamon and sugar. [8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Migrations" (PDF).
  2. ^ E.P. Lenderking. Tanjia Marrakchia: Culinary Adventure at Dar Les Cigogues. 2013.
  3. ^ Bastilla. Clifford A Wright. 2016
  4. ^ Don Philpott (20 October 2016). The World of Wine and Food: A Guide to Varieties, Tastes, History, and Pairings. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 278. ISBN 978-1-4422-6804-3.
  5. ^ Fodor's Travel Publications, Inc (2012). Fodor's Morocco. Fodors Travel Publications. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-0-307-92832-0.
  6. ^ "Pastilla Recipe - Bastilla Recipe - Delicious Techniques".
  7. ^ "Pastilla Moroccan pigeon pie".
  8. ^ "Traditional Moroccan Food | Moroccanzest". Moroccanzest. 2018-07-28. Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  9. ^ "Did You Know: Food History - Bastila: a Culinary History of Morocco". Retrieved 2017-05-25.