|Alternative names||Bastilla, Basṭīla, R’zeema, Tajik, Malsouka|
|Region or state||Maghreb|
|Main ingredients||Warka dough, broth, spices; squab, chicken, fish or offal|
Pastilla (Arabic: بسطيلة, romanized: basṭīla, also called North African pie) is a North African meat or seafood pie made with warqa dough (ورقة), which is similar to filo. It is a speciality of Morocco, Algeria,[a] and Tunisia, where its variation is known as Malsouka.: 1190  It has more recently been spread by emigrants to France, Israel, and North America.
The name of the pie comes from the Spanish word pastilla, meaning in modern Spanish either "pill" or "small pastry" after the transformation of the phoneme "p" into "b" that is specific to the Arabic language. The historian Anny Gaul attests to recipes that bear "a strong resemblance to the stuffing that goes inside modern-day bastila" in 13th century Andalusi cookbooks, such as Ibn Razīn al-Tujībī's فضالة الخوان في طيبات الطعام والألوان fuḍālat al-k̲iwān fī ṭayyibāti ṭ-ṭaʿāmi wa-l-ʾalwāni. This recipe, in Gaul's words, calls for "cooking pigeon with cinnamon, almonds, saffron, onion, and eggs, as well as a double-cooking process similar to today's conventional recipe, by which the ingredients are first cooked in a pot and then finished in the oven."
The historian Idriss Bouhlila lists the dish as one of the Ottoman Algerian foods that affected Tetuani cuisine as a result of an Algerian migration to Tetuan in the aftermath of the French invasion of Algiers in 1830, while acknowledging those who consider the dish to be of Andalusi origin. Bouhlila's study corroborated Gaul's theory that the name of the dish—which according to Bouhlila is of Turkish origin—as well as the werqa pastry used to make it, arrived with the Algerian migrants to Tetuan, and spread from there to the rest of Morocco sometime after 1830.
According to Ken Albala, the basic concept of pastilla was likely brought to Morocco by Moorish Muslims who left Spain in the 16th century, or perhaps earlier, because there had been considerable traffic between Morocco and Spain since the Moors conquered the latter in the seventh century.
According to the historian of Jewish food, Gil Marks, pastilla was brought to Morocco by Sephardi Jews and, after the Ottoman version of "phyllo" called "warqa", reached the Maghreb, cooks substituted it for Spanish pastry. Sepharadi continued to pronounce the name with "p", while Arabic speakers substituted a "b" (bastila).: 1385
In Morocco, pastilla is generally served as a starter at the beginning of special meals, and in one of two forms: one with poultry and one with seafood. In Algeria, pastilla is usually made with chicken or with pigeon.
Poultry pastilla was traditionally made of squab (fledgling pigeons), but shredded chicken is more often used today. It combines sweet and salty flavours; crisp layers of the crêpe-like werqa dough, savory meat slow-cooked in broth and spices and then shredded, and a crunchy layer of toasted and ground almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. The filling is made by browning the poultry in butter. Chopped onions, water, parsley, and various spices including saffron are added and the meat is simmered until tender. When cool, the meat is boned and the flesh shredded. The liquid is reduced and thickened with eggs to form a custard-like sauce. Meat and custard are often prepared the day ahead.
Blanched almonds are fried in oil, then crushed finely and mixed with powdered sugar and cinnamon. In a round baking pan, several pieces of the thin werqa or filo dough are layered, each brushed with melted butter, and overhanging the edge of the pan. The cook adds the egg mixture, places another buttered sheet of dough over it, adds the shredded meat, also covered with a sheet of dough, and then the almond mixture is added. The overlapping pieces of dough are folded over the filling, and another 2 pieces of buttered dough are added and tucked in around the edges of the pie. The pie is baked until heated through, and the layers of dough are brown. Powdered sugar and cinnamon are sprinkled over the top before serving hot.
Seafood pastilla (Moroccan Arabic: بسطيلة الحوت, romanized: basṭīlat el-ḥūt) usually contains fish and other seafood, in addition to vermicelli. Unlike poultry pastilla, seafood pastilla is not sweet, but spicy.
Whereas poultry pastilla is dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon, seafood pastilla is usually dressed with a light sprinkle of shredded cheese and a few slices of lemon. This version of pastilla is often served at Moroccan weddings.
In the traditional Fassi cuisine, pastilla can also be served as a dessert, in which case, the pastilla is called Jowhara (جوهرة, jewel) or "Pastilla with milk". This pastilla is also made of warka and a milky cream put between the sheets. The Jowhara is flavored with orange flower water and decorated with cinnamon and sugar.
Among Moroccan Jews, pastilla is made with olive oil or margarine rather than butter to follow kosher rules against eating dairy products and meat at the same time.
An increasingly popular variant makes individual pastries rather than large pies.
إذا كان المجتمع التطواني قد تأثر في حياته اليومية ببعض الألبسة والمصطلحات اللغوية العثمانية، فقد تأثرت المائدة التطوانية - هي أيضا - بأصناف وأطباق جميلة من المأكولات، والحلويات العثمانية الجزائرية. نذكر منها على سبيل المثال: - الباصطيلة: تعد من الأطعمة الفاخرة التي تزخر بها المائدة التطوانية. وهناك من يقول على أنها أندلسية الأصل.
There is a strong argument for the Turkic origin of phyllo pastry" ... "His work explains how waves of Algerians migrated to Tetouan fleeing the violence of the 1830 French invasion."..."While Bouhlila acknowledges that most Tetouanis consider bastila to be Andalusi, he suggests that the word itself is of Turkish origin and arrived with the Algerians." ... "Bouhlila's study corroborated the theory [of Zette Guinaudeau] that the paper-thin ouarka used to make bastila, as well as the name of the dish itself, were introduced to Morocco by way of Tetouani cuisine sometime after 1830.