Pastilla (or Bastilla) is a traditional Moroccan festive dish using shredded chicken and almonds, dusted with sugar and cinnamon. Here is my fun spin on it using ground lamb and some cooked rice. I used brick dough which made the process very easy, but you will also find instructions for Phyllo dough, which might be easier to buy, and is equally delicious.
Lior Lev Sercarz
1 pound ground lamb
1 Tbsp Tangier spice
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cups cooked white rice (or freekeh)
1 cup dried cranberries (or golden raisins)
1 1/2 cup slivered almonds (or sliced)
1 stick salted butter
1 Tbsp Izak spice
1 pack brick dough or 1 box frozen phyllo dough
Prepare the lamb
Heat a frying pan on medium high heat and add the ground lamb (no oil needed).
Spread the meat to cover the surface of the pan season with the tangier spice and salt and cook over high heat for about 5 to 8 minutes. The lamb should brown nicely.
Remove the meat into a strainer or colander and make sure you keep all the fat/liquid from the pan.
Place the same pan back on the stove and set to medium heat. Add some of the cooking fat and cook the diced onion for about 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
Remove the onions and cook the almonds using some more of the lamb fat and season with the izak spice.
Finally cook the cranberries with the remaining lamb fat.
Melt the stick of butter, and using the pastry brush, butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch baking dish.
Brick dough method
Place one sheet of brick dough in the pan and push it gently to stick to the bottom and sides of the pan. Spread a third of the meat, a third of the rice and same with almond and cranberries. Brush one side of another brick dough and place it buttered side down in the pan. Lightly press. Brush the second side with more butter and repeat with another batch of one third of all the ingredients. Repeat this with another layer and the rest of the ingredients.
Top it all with one last layer of buttered brick dough. Tuck the excess dough into the sides of the pan to seal the pie.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and using a baking tray or flat dish flip the pastilla. Place back in the oven and bake for 20 more minutes.
Remove from the oven and set aside for about 5 minutes.
Using the sifter, dust the pastilla with powdered sugar and then decorate with ground cinnamon in whatever pattern you like (or like the image shows).
Remove the thawed dough from the box and place on a cutting board and cover the dough with a lightly damp towel so that is does not dry out and break.
Grab 3 sheets of phyllo and fold them together in quarters, lengthwise into a thin strip. Place in the pan in a way that excess dough is equally distributed between both sides of the pan and the rest touches the bottom and sides of the pan. Repeat with 4-5 more phyllo strips to cover the pan. It will look like a sunflower with the excess hanging over the sides.
Follow the same filling method as described in the brick dough section, replacing the layers of brick dough with a double layer of phyllo cut in a circle to fit the center of the dish.
After all the filling is in the pan, start folding in the strips of Phyllo while brushing the surface of each strip of dough with butter so that the other strip glues to it.
Bake the same way as the brick dough version.
Variations & Ideas
• Use a pound of cooked shredded chicken instead of the lamb.
• Replace the rice with lentils.
Questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org