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Cornish Game Hen Pastilla

This recipe is a take on a Moroccan classic, which would normally use squab. Apart from the cost of using pigeon, some people find it a little too strong in taste for them. So, I developed this recipe so they can experience one of the great tastes of North Africa.

Simon Majumdar's Cornish Game Hen Pastilla Recipe

Cornish Game Hen Pastilla Recipe

(Makes two 8-inch Pastilla)


  • 4 Cornish Game Hens

  • 4 Tablespoons of Ras El Hanout Spice Mix (See below - about 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground ginger, ground mace, ground cinnamon, ground black pepper, ground coriander seed, ground cayenne, salt)

  • 1 Large White Onion (diced)

  • 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)

  • 3 Whole Eggs

  • 3 Cups Chicken Stock

  • 16 Sheets Filo Pastry (8 per pie should be sufficient, but add more if you feel you need it)

  • ¾ Cup Melted Butter

  • ½ Cup Finely Chopped Parsley

  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar

  • ½ Cup Ground Almonds

  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Olive Oil


  1. First, you will need to make your Ras El Hanout spice mix. This literally means “at the head of the shop” and represented a blend of the finest spices the shop owner had to offer. The mix varied from place to place, but I make mine with equal parts of:

    • Ground Cumin

    • Ground Ginger

    • Ground Mace

    • Ground Cinnamon

    • Ground Black Pepper

    • Ground Coriander Seed

    • Ground Cayenne

    • Salt

  2. Take three tablespoons of the Ras El Hanout spice mixture and blend with a tablespoon of olive oil to make a paste.

  3. Rub this mixture all over the Cornish game hens.

  4. Lay the game hens on a foil covered roasting tray and then roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes or until the internal temperature comes to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  5. Remove the hens from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool, remove the flesh from the carcass and shred. You can do this a day in advance.

  6. In a large sauce pan, add three tablespoons of olive oil and bring to a gentle heat.

  7. Add the diced onions, and cook until soft and golden.

  8. Add the minced garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes.

  9. Add the remaining Ras El Hanout mix and combine well with the onions and garlic. Cook on a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes.

  10. Add the chicken stock and simmer on a gentle heat for about twenty minutes.

  11. Add the shredded game hen flesh and cook gently for about 5 minutes.

  12. Add the chopped parsley, stir into the mixture and allow to cool.

  13. When the mixture has cooled for about 5 minutes, whisk up the whole eggs and beat into the sauce.

  14. Allow to cool thoroughly and check for seasoning.

  15. Mix together ½ a cup of the powdered sugar with all of the ground almonds.

  16. When you are ready to make the pies, melt the butter.

  17. Layer each pie dish with 4-5 layers of filo pastry, allowing the excess to droop over the side (this will be folded back later to help seal it).

  18. Add a layer of the Cornish game hen mix to the pie, and then top that with a layer of the ground almonds and powdered sugar. The filling should be at the same level as the edge of the pie dish.

  19. Cut the remaining 3-4 sheets in half and layer on the base of the pie.

  20. Brush the pastry with melted butter and fold back the pastry drooping over the sides to form a seal on the pie. Add another layer of pastry if you need too.

  21. Flip the pie out onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper (the almond layer should be at the bottom), and chill for thirty minutes.

  22. When ready to cook, pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and brush the pies over with the remaining melted butter.

  23. Bake the pies for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry turns golden.

  24. Serve hot and, just before serving, dust the pies with the remaining powdered sugar and cinnamon.

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