Foods Around the World: Morocco


Although pigeon for breakfast sounds strange, this dish can be eaten at any time of the day. Next time in Morocco, try this dish and feel the flavors connect.

EvanKate Page, Staff Reporter

  Morocco is a perfect place to spend a vacation as it borders the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The best times to vacation are Spring and Fall because the weather is the best from March-May and September-October; it is not scorching hot or frigid with snow. Morocco is a relatively safe place to visit as long as the laws and culture are respected by tourists. Arabic is the main language spoken there with occasional English spoken by holiday resorts or complexes. Audley Travel states that Morocco is child-friendly, and kids are welcomed everywhere; there is so much to do there, “you’ll need ten days to see them all.” Dishes in Morocco are typically made with lots of earthy and bright flavors to reflect ingredients found in the local markets. 

  Pastilla, a traditional Moroccan chicken pie, includes a sweet and sour taste, two things Moroccan dishes typically have. It is also known as B’stilla or Bisteeya. Pastilla can be found and purchased at bakeries, restaurants, and cafes in Morocco. This famous Moroccan pie includes puff pastry, and it is stuffed with pigeon meat. However, for those with a more simple taste pallet, this dish can be made with chicken as well. This dish is topped with sugar and cinnamon and has very diverse flavors of salty, sweet, spicy, and buttery. Although some key flavors in this dish are sweet, the spice saffron is easily an overpowering ingredient. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world, and only a few strands are needed because they can overpower the dish. The reason saffron is so expensive is that it needs to be harvested manually, and there is limited saffron spice per plant. Along with this rich spice, Pastilla also has another spice called Ras el Hanout. This particular spice is a blend of ingredients such as cinnamon, cumin, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, pepper, lavender, rose petals, and other ingredients that make this spice balance out while baking. 

  Although this dish is widely made with chicken, the pigeon is the ingredient that sets this dish apart and made it uniquely popular. Senior Rodney Smith shares his take on this dish while speaking with the Cat Talk, “I have never eaten any crazy animals, I guess I would consider it if it was disguised.” This is a popular opinion among people which is why the chicken version of the dish is more known. Restaurants in Morocco still mainly use pigeons by either assembling the layers of the pie or combining all ingredients into one filling. Due to the way the pie is constructed, it is hard to tell the visual difference between chicken and pigeon. 

  The Pastilla served in the US is made with mainly chicken because it is quicker and the species of birds are protected by law. Killing pigeons is the way to make this dish, Rodney says, “I have hunted deer before and I liked it for the experience. If I was able to have the experience of hunting, then it would be fun to try pigeon.”This dish can be eaten at any time of the day and is something fun to try in Morocco!


Recipe + Directions from Spice Mountain 



4 Pigeons

3 Onions, chopped

1tsp Ginger powder

1tsp Turmeric

1tsp Cinnamon powder

2tsp Parsley

1tsp Coriander Leaf

250g Butter

20g Caster Sugar

1 Cinnamon Stick

12 strands Saffron

1tsp Ras el Hanout

6 Eggs

6 sheets Filo Pastry

20g Roasted Almonds, chopped

15g Flaked Almonds



  1. Season the pigeon with salt, pepper, ginger powder, cinnamon powder, and turmeric. 
  2. Heat a heavy pan and brown the pigeons in a little olive oil. Remove the pigeon from the pan and add the onion along with the rest of the spices, including the caster sugar. 
  3. Saute this gently for 2-3 minutes before adding 230g butter. 
  4. Return the pigeon to the pan, put the lid on, and let it simmer for 45 mins until the pigeon is tender. When ready, remove the pigeon from the pan and allow it to cool. 
  5. Beat the eggs, then add them to the pan and scramble them with the onion mixture, then set aside. 
  6. Remove the pigeon meat from the bones, cut it into small cubes, and then add it to the onion and egg mixture along with the chopped almonds and some chopped fresh coriander.
  7.  Melt the rest of the butter and brush it all over the pastry sheets. Use 4 buttered sheets for the base of the Pastilla, and place the pigeon, egg, and onion mixture in the middle. 
  8. Place another 2 sheets of pastry on the top, then carefully fold the pastry over on the top to form a nice round shape. 
  9. Bake the Pastilla in an oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  10. Sprinkle the cooked Pastilla with icing sugar and cinnamon powder, and garnish with the flaked almonds.