BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Pastilla, Bastilla, Bisteeya, B’stilla, or Bstilla; It All Means “Delicious”

34 Comments

I may have never known about the wonders of pastilla, the mysterious pastry with a half-dozen different spellings, if not for the ethereal prose of Fatima Mernissi. So inspired by her lavish, unrestrained words of praise, this was my call to action, to secure a literal piece of the pie for myself. A Moroccan inspiration clad in endless layers of flaky, buttery phyllo, authentic renditions are stuffed with pigeon meat, but more modern formulas concede that chicken will suffice. In a play on words, since we’re thinking in a literary manner anyway, chickpeas turned out to be an excellent substitute, staying true to the theme without compromising any feathered friends in the process.

Most curious, perhaps, is the incongruous addition of powdered sugar right before serving; a light dusting of confectionery snow, frosting a decidedly savory main course. A jarring suggestion to this westerner, raised with a deep mistrust of even gently sweetened dried fruit mixed into an entree, it took a leap of faith to give this coup de grĂ¢ce a fair shake. Humbly, I must admit, it does work, tempering the hot, bold, and intense spices without turning the pastry into a dessert option. Though it could still taste equally delicious without, for those as hesitant as myself, I must urge you to just give it a shot. You made it this far- Get the full experience, at least once. It’s worth taking the plunge.

Chickpea Pastilla

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Medium Yellow Onions, Finely Chopped
2 Teaspoons Granulated Sugar
1 1/4 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 14-Ounce Can (1 3/4 Cup Cooked) Chickpeas, Drained
1/2 Cup Coarse Almond Meal
1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
3/4 – 1 Teaspoon Salt

8 – 10 Sheets Frozen Phyllo Dough, Thawed
Confectioner’s Sugar, To Garnish (Optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly grease a 6-inch round springform pan.

Heat 1 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sugar; cook for 8 – 10 minutes while stirring frequently, until lightly golden and aromatic. Incorporate the ground cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne, cooking for a minute or two longer to gently toast the spices, releasing their unique perfume. Add drained chickpeas and almond meal next, stirring to combine, before slowly pouring in the broth and lemon juice together. Cook for another minute to heat through and slightly thicken the mixture. It should be thoroughly moistened but not soupy. Season with salt to taste. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes before proceeding.

Lay 1 sheet of phyllo across the bottom of your prepared springform pan, allowing the excess dough to hang over the edges. Lightly brush with the remaining olive oil, and then place another sheet of phyllo on top, turning it slightly so that the points stick out at different angles. Repeat this process so that you end up with 4 – 5 sheets lining the pan, covering the sides completely. Gently spoon the chickpea filling into the center, smoothing it out so that it fills the pan evenly. If you end up with a bit too much filling to comfortably squeeze in, you can always use leftover sheets of phyllo to make individual parcels later.

Cover the filling with another sheet of phyllo, brush with olive oil, and repeat the same process as before, ending up with another 4 – 5 sheets on top. Fold the overhanging dough back over the top, smoothing it down as neatly as you can without driving yourself crazy. Give it a final brush of olive oil before sliding it into the oven. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, keeping a close eye on it since it cooks quickly at this high temperature, until the whole thing is golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before unmolding, and sift a fine dusting of confectioner’s sugar on top right before serving.

Makes 3 – 4 Servings

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

34 thoughts on “Pastilla, Bastilla, Bisteeya, B’stilla, or Bstilla; It All Means “Delicious”

  1. This looks gorgeous! I’ve never made it. Will definitely try this! :)

  2. Chickpeas are my automatic chicken substitute. Works every time. I’ve never heard of pastille before, but I’m so going to have to try making this sometime soon. It looks amazing, like the Moroccan pie-shaped answer to bean paste dumplings.

  3. This would be stunning for company. I don’t have a 6″ springform pan. If I used a 9″ and doubled the filling, do you think that would work?

    janet

    • Yes! I think that’s a great idea, too. You may need to bake it slightly longer to make up for the increased size, but since the oven is so hot, it probably won’t be much more than an additional minute or two. I’d love to hear about the results if you give it a try!

      • Another idea you or your readers might try it to make squares of filo/phyllo layers, put some filling inside, then pull the edges together to make a purse shape and tie the top with a bit of green onion before baking. It makes individual servings and make you look as if you slaved for hours to come up with something so incredible.

      • Now I’m starting to think that you should have been the one writing this post! Simply brilliant suggestions- Thank you for sharing.

  4. Wow, what an impressive-looking dish!

  5. This sounds just so wonderful! I’ve never heard of Pastilla, but you can rest assured that it will be making an appearance on my table in the very near future. The blend of spices sounds so interesting and warming. I think this would be great for a holiday menu.

  6. A lovely pastilla:) I like to use filo dough,,and here it is used quite often:)

  7. Hannah, your writing is sheer poetry! And your pictures, lyrical!

  8. You are quite the chef, amazing job!!!

  9. This looks over-the-top delicious, and not too difficult to make. I don’t think I’ve ever hear of a pastilla, nor do I think I ever had a dessert containing chickpeas. I am so going to make this, and I already pinned it, tweeted it, and facebooked it!

  10. Gorgeous! A bastilla is such a show stopper! Saving this for a possible holiday center :)

  11. Working with phyllo dough is not an area of ventured into yet, it seems I need to get on it! This looks beautiful and would be such an impressive addition to a holiday dinner.

  12. This sounds amazing and is a new one to me! I swear you must do so much culinary research Hannah.

  13. I first heard of B’stilla on Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s show “River Cottage” and when he topped it with icing sugar and cinnamon I thought “hang on!” I am a pretty adventurous eater but mixing sweet and savoury tends to put me off but apparently it just ‘works’ and is something you need to try. As a vegan I never tried to make this chook dish but now…what’s to stop me? NOTHING! I can get everything that I need to make this right here in Sleepy Sidmouth so methinks that this rained in spring day where we aren’t going to be able to get out into the garden is going to be this unctuous crunchy creations debut in Northern Tasmania where I hold your number 1 fan club ticket. Cheers for sharing Hannah and as always, you RULE when it comes to innovative gorgeousness you clever girl :)

  14. Your filled bastilla looks splendid & eveb spectacular too! :) MMMMMMMM!!! A fabulous picture too, dear Hannah! :)

  15. I have been eagerly awaiting your version of Bastilla ever since you mentioned it in an earlier post. Thank you so much for sharing! Your version is incredibly less time-consuming than the traditional recipe. Wrapping with the phyllo dough is definitely the hardest part, but practice makes perfect, and this dish is one that is fun to eat, so I don’t mind practicing one bit!

  16. I’m intrigued! I too am incredibly wary of even dried fruit in savory dishes, but I’m so curious about this that I must try it!

  17. However you decide to spell it, I’ve been meaning to make this! Yours is absolutely gorgeous and the spices in it sound like all my favorites in one!

  18. Not familiar with pastilla at all but it looks very interesting! :-)

  19. Thank you for creating this superdeliciousness with chickpeas! My aunt used to make bastilla when I was a little kid and I think it did have a sort of sweetness on the outside…must have been the sugar dusting. So happy to see a vegan version that isn’t made with fake meat which I don’t love, but with chickpeas which I worship. :)
    I wonder if you could make mini-bastillas in a muffin pan, and could you freeze some for another day?

  20. Filo always seems to be a nightmare to work with whenever I try and give it a go, but if anything looks worth the trouble, it’s a bit of pastilla!

  21. It looks so yummy, I quite like to try this recipe, thanks for sharing! :)

  22. This pastilla looks to die for!!!

  23. What a gorgeous masterpiece! I have never had Moroccan dishes nor a Bastilla, but I would love to eat the flaky pies! Btw, love the dusting of confectionery snow….you should do this more often, taking action shots in food photography! Whoohoo!

  24. This is an AMAZING pastilla !!
    Saving this recipe, as I’m already planning to make it
    Thanks!!

  25. The picture alone sells this, but the ingredients help! Looks delicious!

  26. Ooo that looks stunning and it sounds pretty intriguing too… Will have to try this at some point!

  27. Such a beautiful picture! It looks delicious!

  28. Wow. I think I’m in Phyllo heaven! I think you have dont the pastilla justice! It looks golden, and so flaky like how it should be!

    I do think that the dusting of confectioner’s sugar seem a little weird on a savoury dish. I will definitely give it a shot the next time I make sth similar.

  29. Pingback: Vegetarian + Vegan Thanksgiving Cheat Sheet - The Market Hopper

  30. could you please change my email address to

    noraschreiber6@gmail.com

    thanks

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