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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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Carrot Crust

As many of you may know, I’m very active on Instagram posting pictures and following others who share my interests in food and photography. The other day I came across a beautiful and intriguing picture by Farmgirl Gourmet for a pie crust made of sweet potatoes. I was hooked!

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However, as I was out of sweet potatoes and had a 5-kilo bag of carrots waiting for my attention, I swapped out the vegetables and then added a few touches of my own. I love the resulting texture and I’m going to be making more of this with other veggies…

I used my crust for a “pseudo” Moroccan bastila or pie made with lamb meat. This crust is great both for savoury and sweet dishes and especially for a quiche, like the Farmgirl Gourmet’s original recipe.

CARROT CRUST

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of grated, and squeezed* carrots
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional, and I included it for the lamb bastila, for which I made the crust)

Process

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (about 350F). Prepare a springform cake tin as follows: butter the bottom and sides and line with parchment paper. The butter is used so the paper will adhere to the pan.
  2. Add some olive oil (or additional, melted butter) on top of the paper and with your hands or a paper towel, spread the oil around the parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Peel about 6-8 large carrots. I used a hand grater to grate them. Then I squeezed the water (carrot juice) out of them and measured the “dried” results into 4 cups. (I used a dry ingredients U.S. measuring cup.)
  4. Place the grated carrots in a large bowl. Add the butter and eggs, and with your hands mix well, cutting the butter into the mixture.
  5. Add the coconut flour and spices, and knead until all is well blended.
  6. Scoop the carrot mixture into the prepared cake tin and using your hands, spread it out evenly to form a pie shell (covering the sides of the tin as well as the bottom).  
  7. Baking time depends on what you will make with the crust afterwards. I baked mine for 35 minutes and then baked it again with the filling another 25 minutes.

*I squeezed the grated carrots between my hands, eliminating as much carrot juice as possible. (I had about 1/3 cup of juice, which was delicious on its own, after grating and squeezing 4 cups of grated carrots). You can also use a cheesecloth to squeeze the liquid out of the vegetables.

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