Paleo Lamb Bastila or Pie

I call this dish a “pseudo” bastila, since it’s made with lamb and it has no phyllo dough. It’s probably more aptly called a Moroccan inspired pie… but the concept is that of a traditional Chicken Bastila with the meat and egg sauce filling, roasted almonds and spices.

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Yet, however you want to call it, it tastes good and it’s Paleo! I absolutely adore Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine and one of the hardest things since going Paleo is avoiding dishes like this one or the delicious baklava! And although I’m sure a purist would not completely agree with my recipe, this is a keeper for me. Next time, I’ll be making it with chicken (the “proper” way) and maybe changing the crust using a different vegetable, like cauliflower, which is more neutral.

For the carrot crust that I used with this pie, please click here.

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A couple of notes: I usually don’t measure my ingredients when making savoury dishes. This recipe is definitely the rule rather than the exception. So, for the spices, adjust according to your taste, especially with the ground cinnamon and ground cumin. There is a traditional Moroccan spice mix, called ras el hanout, which is a blend of spices that is typically used for bastila and other Moroccan dishes, and varies from kitchen to kitchen and even by vendor. The most frequent ingredients found in it are cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, clove, coriander, nutmeg, pepper and turmeric. If you can find ras el hanout, I recommend using it. (Here’s my recipe for this spice blend.)

I decided not to go too crazy on the spices as the lamb meat has a strong flavour and I didn’t want to compete with that. However, when using chicken meat, it’s easier to be more generous with the spice mix.

Additionally, rose water can be added to the roasted almonds, along with the cinnamon. I also opted not to add the rose water since my crust was flavourful enough. If you’re making the “real” bastila with phyllo dough, feel free to add this in, as it does give the dish a unique aroma.

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PALEO LAMB BASTILA/PIE

Ingredients, for 4-6

  • 6 mini lamp chops, or about 1 1/2 cups of lamb meat
  • butter
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
  • 1 aubergine, partially peeled and cut into cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • water
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (adjust to taste, as desired though)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (adjust to taste, as desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • a pinch or a sprinkle of ground cardamom
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 handfuls of raisins
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • almonds, about 2 handfuls, plus additional ground cinnamon

Process

  1. In a saucepan over medium to low heat, add some butter and brown the lamb chops. Cook until most or all of the blood is gone. Set aside to cool. Once they are cool, cut the meat into small pieces. Set aside.
  2. Wash and prepare the vegetables.
  3. In the same saucepan used to brown the lamb, add a bit more butter and sauté the sweet potato, until almost tender.
  4. Add the celery, aubergine, and garlic and sauté until tender.
  5. Add the meat, the raisins and some water to cover all of it. Add the spices and mix well.
  6. Cook until the meat is fully cooked and the sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add more water as needed, so the sauce stays thick and doesn’t dry out.
  7. Then make a hole in the middle of the mixture and add the beaten eggs. Allow to cook slightly before stirring and scrambling into the rest of the sauce. Cook 2-3 minutes longer and set aside.20130325-153447.jpg
  8. In the meantime, in another saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil, over medium heat, lightly brown the almonds. Set aside and sprinkle with ground cinnamon (about 2 teaspoons). Once the almonds are cool, place them in a food processor or blender and chop roughly.20130325-153458.jpg
  9. Place the meat mixture into the carrot crust and top with the ground almonds.
  10. Bake at 180C (350F) for 25 minutes on the lower rack of the oven to avoid burning. (You can also cover it with some parchment paper if the almonds begin to burn.)

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