Index By:


Mohamed's Bisteeya

From Ruth Reichl, Tender at the Bone

Serves: 6-8


  • 3 c. chicken broth
  • 2 small chickens, rinsed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • quarter-sized chunk fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 lb. butter
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 lb. almonds
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 package phyllo dough, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/2 lb. butter, melted


  1. Put first 10 ingredients (chicken broth, chickens, garlic, salt, cinnamon, parsley, onion, ginger, pepper, butter) in a large pot. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer for 1.5 hours.
  2. Remove chicken from cooking liquid and shred meat into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  3. Strain liquid and cook down until it has reduced to 2 cups. Add lemon juice and simmer about 5 minutes. Slowly add beaten eggs and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the eggs have congealed into a thick curd and most of the liquid has evaporated. This takes about 10 minutes. Cool.
  4. Heat 2 tbs. of butter in a skillet and saute almonds. When you can smell them and they are lightly browned, drain on paper towels, chop, and combine with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  5. One hour before eating, preheat oven to 400F.
  6. Unroll the phyllo and put the leaves under a damp towel to keep them moist while you are working. Brush the bottom of a pizza pan, paella pan, or very large cake pan with the melted butter. Layer the bottom of the pan with leaves of phyllo until the entire surface is covered and the phyllo extends about 2 inches outside the pan in all directions. Brush the top of the phyllo with butter.
  7. Top with half of the nut mixture, cover lightly with more phyllo, and brush with butter. Add half the chicken, covering with more phyllo and brushing with butter. Cover with half of the egg mixture, add another layer of phyllo, and brush with butter. Add remaining chicken and a couple more leaves of phyllo brushed with butter, and sprinkle the remaining almond mixture over the top. Cover with all but 3 of the remaining leaves of phyllo, again brushing with butter. Fold the edges of the bisteeya in over the top to make a neat package. Put the remaining leaves of phyllo on top and pour most of the remaining butter over them.
  8. Bake for 20 or 25 minutes until top leaves are golden. Remove pan from oven, carefully invert onto a large buttered baking sheet, brush with the remaining butter, and bake 10 minutes more.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar and cinnamon.


Keywords: North African, Chicken, Chicken.