I tried bastilla for the first time last week at Tagine, an off-the-beaten-track Moroccan restaurant on West 38th Street in New York City. (221 W 38th St, New York, NY 10018, (646) 373-6265

There’s something ancient and royal in the flavors of this pheasant pie topped with powdered sugar, cinnamon and crushed almonds between layers of crisp phyllo. The bird is braised in a spice-filled broth, with ginger, turmeric and cilantro, to name but a few. Pigeon is used in Morocco; chicken is often used here. Tagine’s chef Hamid Idrissi uses pheasant because it is gamey, like pigeon.The pheasant filling is rich, bound with eggs and sauce made from the reduced broth. In Morocco, bastilla is celebration food, served at weddings and royalty and feasting. It’s a dish to share.

Chef Hamid shows how to make bastilla on this youtube video: