Moroccan Chicken and Almond Pie (B’Stella)

Moroccan Chicken and Almond Pie (B’Stella)
The colorful cover of the May, 1991 edition of Gourmet Magazine.
Having the print editions allows me to browse recipes when I’m not sure what I want to cook.

I got this recipe from the May, 1991 edition of Gourmet Magazine. I still have about a decade worth of back issues from that time period and many of the recipes in the print edition still aren’t online. This is one of them.

I found other recipes for this dish online but I don’t believe they are as good, because they take a short cut, calling for the chicken to be cooked separately (either by baking or frying)  and then adding chicken stock. This recipe calls for two whole chickens to be steamed, creating it’s own chicken stock as it cooks in a large kettle (or pasta pot).

Two chickens in a pot.
Steaming the chickens keeps them juicy while infusing them with many flavors.

Gourmet Magazine got this recipe from chef Bashir Kouchacji of the Marrakesh Restaurant in Philadelphia after a reader wrote in and asked for it. The recipe called for adding two teaspoons of cinnamon to the shredded chicken mixture. I also added a teaspoon of turmeric and a half teaspoon of dried ginger as all three spices create what is called “golden milk”: a tasty Indian specialty that some claim helps reduce inflammation.

A browned chicken and almond pie in a large skillet.
You put the pie together in a large skillet and bake it in the oven until golden brown.

The only other change I made was steaming the chickens for an hour and 15 minutes. The recipe called for cooking them for just 45 minutes but they were still pretty raw then. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken the cover off to check them so often.

I never had this dish — which is also called b’stella — before I made it. But I soon learned it is a contradictory delight. It’s light, and yet also quite filling. And it’s savory, yet also quite sweet. The three spices, along with a little black pepper, blend well with the subtle flowery flavor of the saffron: enhancing it but never overshadowing it.

If you’re looking for something different to make. Make this. It takes a little time (about three hours) but it’s worth it.

Here’s the recipe:

Moroccan Chicken and Almond Pie (B'Stella)

April 17, 2024
: 8
: 3 hr

This is a fun, authentic recipe from the Marrakesh Restaurant in Philadelphia, via the May, 1991 edition of Gourmet Magazine.


  • Butter, unsalted, 1 1/2 sticks
  • Whole chickens, 2, about 3 1/2- 4 pounds
  • Parsley, 2 small bunches chopped
  • Onion, 1 large, minced
  • Saffron, 1/4 teaspoon, crumbled
  • Blanched almonds, toasted lightly, cooled, and ground, 8 oz.
  • Confectioners' sugar, 1 1/4 cup
  • Large eggs, beaten, 4
  • Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon, 3 teaspoons
  • Turmeric, 1 teaspoon
  • Ginger, dried or powdered, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Phyllo dough, 7 (17 x 12-inch) sheets (keep covered with damp kitchen towel)
  • Water, 2 cups
  • Step 1 In a large kettle (or pasta pot), melt 1 stick of butter over moderate heat and add the chickens, the parsley, the onion, the saffron, and 2 cups of water.
  • Step 2 Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer it, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. (It can be a little undercooked because you’re going to cook it more after you shred it.)
  • Step 3 Transfer chickens to a cutting board, reserving the liquid and letting it cool.
  • Step 4 Shred the chickens and return the meat to the liquid in the pot.
  • Step 5 Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil it, while stirring it, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Let it cool.
  • Step 6 In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar and ground almonds. And add half of this to the chicken mixture.
  • Step 7 Next, you want to stir in the beaten eggs but make sure the chicken mixture has cooled as you don’t want to make scrambled eggs. And then add the pepper, two teaspoons of cinnamon, one teaspoon of turmeric, and a half teaspoon of ginger.
  • Step 8 Line a buttered 12-14-inch ovenproof skillet with one sheet of the phyllo dough and brush it with some melted butter. Then layer four more sheets of dough, brushed with butter, in the same manner.
  • Step 9 Sprinkle the remaining almond mixture onto the phyllo and top it with the chicken mixture.
  • Step 10 Cover the chicken mixture with the remaining 2 sheets of phyllo dough, each brushed with butter.
  • Step 11 Fold the phyllo dough edges to enclose the filling and brush the top with more butter.
  • Step 12 Bake the pie in the middle of a preheated 350 oven until it is golden and crisp (30-minutes to 1 hour).
  • Step 13 Transfer the pie to a serving plate (or simply leave it in the pan for cutting into slices) and sift the remaining 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon over it.

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