B’stilla – bastilla – bisteeya – bstilla – pastilla …. whatever you choose to call it, is a Moroccan classic up there with the tagine. You may not see it on every corner or roadside pit stop in Morocco as you do with the tagine but you’re bound to come across it eventually.
Traditionally made with slow-cooked then shredded squab, aromatic spices and nuts, wrapped in warka and dusted with powdered sugar, it’s a savoury and sweet parcel of deliciousness. It may have been almost a decade ago, but I vividly remember my first night tucking into b’stilla (amongst other tidbits) at the nightly food market at Djemma el-Fna in Marrakesh. A true spectacle for any foodie.
The sweet b’stilla I’ve made here doesn’t resemble the traditional squab variety whatsoever and is based on a recipe used from a Moroccan cookbook a friend gave to me many years ago. This deconstructed and layered treat is easy to make ahead for a dinner party or a sugary indulgence with a mint tea or strong espresso.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Process the almonds, pistachios, sugar and cinnamon finely.
Lay one sheet of filo on the work surface and brush with melted butter. Top with a second sheet and cut 10cm discs from the layered sheet. Brush each disc with melted butter and arrange on a baking tray. Sprinkle with the nut mixture to evenly cover each pastry disc. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until golden.
Dust with sugar and serve with almond and pistachio syrup (recipe follows) plus a few whole pistachios and pomegranate arils.
Process the nuts to sandy coarseness and add 1 cup of water. Process until smooth and set aside.
Put the remaining 1 cup of water into a small saucepan with the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and reduce to a syrup. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer (either discard the nut paste or add it to fruit and yoghurt for breakfast).
Serve the syrup warm or cold with the b’stilla.