Bisteeya Wontons

April  4, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Makes about 3 dozen
Author Notes

Bisteeya (also known as pastilla, bastilla, b'stilla or bstilla) is a Morrocan meat pie traditionally made with a squab filling in a Phyllo-like crust. It combines sweet and savory flavors; it classically has a savory meat layer and a crunchy and sweet almond layer. When finished the pie is dusted with powdered sugar and a bit of cinnamon. This is my interpretation of bisteeya in a crispy wonton form. The fried wonton wrappers mimic the phyllo crust. With the barely sweetened, savory, spiced filling and dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon they become a delighful little appetizer. The filling can be made a day ahead, so the wontons just need to be stuffed and fried when you're ready to serve them. (Cooks note: I admit to eating more than a few bites of the filling, so my estimate of the number this makes may be off a bit!)

Test Kitchen Notes

HardLikeArmor's bisteeya wontons are destined to be a new family tradition! We loved the sweet and savory aspect of this appetizer—and we are a family that celebrates the appetizer! I usually do not like to serve appetizers that have to be fried, but my new warming tray helped them to keep a little of their crispiness and the latecomers had to hear the guests say, "If you'd only been here think they're good now..." —lorigoldsby

What You'll Need
  • 8 to 10 saffron threads
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • ½ jalepeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon ras el hanout, divided
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black peppper
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or low sodium chicken broth)
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs (.5 to .6 lbs), trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 & ½ tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/8 of a preserved lemon- rinsed & pulp removed – minced (or substitute 1 t lemon zest)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • package of wonton wrappers
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Combine saffron and water in a small bowl to let the saffron “bloom.” Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until softened and just starting to brown about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalepeno, ½ teaspoon ras el hanout, salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant, stirring constantly about 30 to 60 seconds. Add saffron water, chicken stock, and chicken thighs. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until chicken thighs are fully cooked and tender, turning them once, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken thighs to a plate, and set aside.
  3. Return the cooking liquid mixture to medium heat, and when it starts to simmer pour the beaten eggs in a stream into the liquid while whisking. Cook until the egg is set, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer (you may want to collect the liquid portion, and save it for adding to soup or something as it is delicious.) Allow the egg mixture to drain for 10 minutes.
  4. While egg mixture is draining, finely dice your cooked chicken and place it into a medium bowl. Add the almonds, parsley, cilantro, preserved lemon, sugar, ¼ teaspoon of ras el hanout, and the drained egg mixture. Mix well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as needed. Mixture can be cooled to room temperature, then covered and refrigerated at this point if desired.
  5. To fill the wontons: Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the wonton wrapper (you want as much filling as you can get, but still be able to seal the wrappers.) Brush edges of wrapper with water (or egg white - if you want to stuff them a bit ahead of frying them egg white makes a better glue) then fold in half to form a triangle. Pinch edges together well to get a good seal.
  6. To fry the wontons: If you have a deep fryer heat it to 350º F, and fry the wontons in uncrowded batches until golden brown. Otherwise heat about ½ inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet to about 350º F. While the oil is heating combine the powdered sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl or sugar shaker. Fry wontons on one side until golden brown, then flip and fry the other side until golden brown. You may fry as many at a time as you can fit into the pan without crowding. Drain fried wontons on paper towels. Lightly dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon mixture. Serve warm for maximum crispiness, they also taste good at room temperature but do lose a little crunch.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • savorthis
  • creamtea
  • BlueKaleRoad
  • fiveandspice
  • lorigoldsby
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

25 Reviews

savorthis August 30, 2012
We have a restaurant here called Mataam Fez which serves flakey, wonderful Bastilla which I have loved and made for years. It is always an undertaking but well worth it. I love the idea of bite-sized versions...what a great idea.
hardlikearmour August 30, 2012
Thank you, savorthis! They are pretty tasty, and I think a good approximation of a true bisteeya.
creamtea December 7, 2011
mmmmmm, these do sound good.
hardlikearmour December 7, 2011
Thank you, creamtea!
BlueKaleRoad December 6, 2011
These sound terrific, HLA! I love the use of wonton wrappers and your filling looks marvelous. Perfect for a holiday treat!
hardlikearmour December 6, 2011
Thanks, BKR! The wonton wrappers are easy to use, and the filling is seriously yummy. I really can't say how much I ate for "quality control," but it was definitely more than I needed to!
BlueKaleRoad December 7, 2011
Don't underestimate the importance of quality control! More is always better in my opinion. :)
fiveandspice December 6, 2011
Yum. These still look so delicious to me! They had fallen off my radar, and I'm so glad you posted them to this contest. I must make these! And, I love Lori's idea of using a baking stone and phyllo.
hardlikearmour December 6, 2011
They'd fallen off my radar, too, but now I am craving them! I think I'll try lori's idea later in the week.
lorigoldsby December 5, 2011
Great recipe...I made this the a few months back when you posted for "best dumpling" and last week with phyllo dough and baked them on a baking stone.
hardlikearmour December 6, 2011
Your comment made my day! I love the idea of the phyllo on a baking stone. Did you fold it into triangles?
teemee April 10, 2011
Have to try this - finally b'stilla made easy :) I remember once in Morocco being invited for lunch and there was one that filled the centre of the table. The ladies of the house had been working on it for three days... Almost 20 years ago, but unforgettable.
Thank you for posting this - can't wait!
hardlikearmour April 10, 2011
Thanks, teemee! I think they are a good approximation, and relatively quick and easy. Please let me know if you get a chance to try them.
mrslarkin April 5, 2011
wow. yum!
hardlikearmour April 5, 2011
thank you kindly, mrsL!
Midge April 5, 2011
I love bastilla, but never thought about making my own. You've inspired me hla!
hardlikearmour April 5, 2011
You should do it, Midge!
kmartinelli April 5, 2011
I love your inspiration for these dumplings! I've been meaning to make pastilla/bstilla/etc for some time now, but I may have to try these first!
hardlikearmour April 5, 2011
Thanks, kmartinelli! If you try them let me know how you like them. Maybe you'll be better about not sampling so much of the filling.
hardlikearmour April 5, 2011
ps. I used the bisteeya spelling because I think it makes it easiest to pronounce!
fiveandspice April 4, 2011
Great idea hla! I'm obsessed with Moroccan food right now and these sound wonderful!
hardlikearmour April 4, 2011
Thanks, 5&spice. I couldn't stop sampling the filling, and my husband was very pleased with having them for supper last night!
gingerroot April 4, 2011
Wow, hardlikearmour, these sound amazing! Yet another recipe of yours that I wish I had right now to enjoy. : )
hardlikearmour April 4, 2011
That's funny, I generally feel the same about your recipes! I think I've made your manapua in one variation or another more often than any other recipe from this site.
gingerroot April 4, 2011
That means a whole lot coming from you! I suppose I should be thankful my son is so picky, since that is what led me to make those manapua. xx