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Appears in

Old Food

Old Food

By Jill Dupleix

Published 1998

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B’stilla is an extraordinary Moroccan pie of lemony chicken and herbs encased in filo pastry and dusted with sweet, seductive cinnamon and icing sugar. The original version is rich and heavy with butter, but I have lightened it considerably. The chic stencilled pattern of cinnamon and icing sugar is done through a good old-fashioned paper doily, but don’t tell anyone, and they’ll think you trained in Marrakesh.


  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 quantity chermoula marinade (Pantry)
  • 1 litre ( pints) boiling water
  • 1 tsp saffron, powdered
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 packet filo pastry
  • 3 tbsp melted butter for filo pastry


Rub chicken pieces with chermoula, and leave to marinate overnight. Transfer chicken and chermoula to a large pot and add boiling water and saffron. Cover and simmer for one hour, skimming occasionally, until chicken is tender. Strain liquid into a saucepan and boil until liquid is reduced to around ¾ cup. Allow chicken to cool, then shred it with your fingers, discarding bones and skin.

Mix chicken, parsley, lemon rind and reduced liquid, and set aside. Mix icing sugar, cinnamon and ground almonds and set aside.

Heat oven to 180°C (350°F). Brush one sheet of filo pastry with melted butter, lay another sheet on top, brush it with melted butter and continue until you have 6 sheets. Dust with a little of the icing sugar mixture. Place chicken mixture on top, and fold the pastry over the chicken. Dust with more icing sugar mixture, then place 2 more buttered sheets of filo on top, tucking in the edges, to encase the entire pie. Place on a baking tray, baste with melted butter and bake for 30 minutes, until pastry is golden and filling is hot. Remove from oven and slide onto warmed serving plate.

Dust with icing sugar and cinnamon, through a doily if you admit to having one, and serve at the table, cut into wedges.