Chicken Pastil Recipe and Origin

Chicken Pastil Recipe and Origin
Photo by @kayeandherkitchen

Chicken Pastil is a dish that originated in the southern region of Mindanao, Philippines. It is a popular snack or breakfast food made by cooking shredded chicken in coconut milk and spices and wrapping it in banana leaves before steaming or baking. This article explores the origins, traditional ingredients, and recipe of this beloved Filipino dish.

What is Chicken Pastil?

Pastil is a unique and delicious dish deeply rooted in Filipino culture. The dish involves marinating shredded chicken in a blend of spices, including turmeric and ginger, then cooking it in coconut milk until it becomes tender and flavorful. The chicken is then wrapped in banana leaves, adding a distinct aroma and flavor to the dish.

The word “pastil” comes from the Maguindanao language, spoken by the Muslim community in Mindanao. The Maranao and Maguindanao tribes, known for their expertise in preparing this delicacy, traditionally associate Pastil. Typically, Pastil is eaten as breakfast or a snack, often with vinegar or chili sauce for added flavor.

The unique combination of spices and flavors in Chicken Pastil makes it a beloved dish in the Philippines. It perfectly represents the country’s diverse culinary traditions and cultural heritage, continuing to be enjoyed by Filipinos and visitors alike.

Traditional Ingredients Used in Making Chicken Pastil

Chicken Pastil is a simple yet flavorful dish that requires only a few key ingredients. The traditional ingredients used in making Pastil include shredded chicken, coconut milk, and spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, and onions. Banana leaves are used to wrap the chicken before steaming or baking to add a distinct aroma and flavor to the dish. Variations may include other ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, or other vegetables.

Overall, Pastil’s simplicity highlights the importance of using fresh and high-quality ingredients to achieve the best flavor possible. This dish is an excellent example of how a few simple ingredients can come together to create a delicious and satisfying meal.

You may be interested in trying out these Filipino chicken dishes:

How to Make Chicken Pastil Recipe

Chicken Pastil is a delicious and satisfying dish that is beloved in Filipino cuisine. This traditional dish is typically made with shredded chicken, coconut milk, a blend of spices, and wrapped in banana leaves before being steamed or baked. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make Pastil in the comfort of your own home:


  • 1 whole chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp. turmeric powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Banana leaves, cleaned and cut into rectangles

Cooking Instructions

  1. Prepare the rice: Rinse the rice until the water runs clear, then add it to a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.
  2. Prepare the chicken: In a separate pan, sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger until fragrant. Add the shredded chicken, turmeric powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well and cook for a few minutes, then add the coconut milk. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  3. Assemble the Pastil: Take a rectangular piece of banana leaf and lay it flat. Add a spoonful of cooked rice to the center of the leaf, then add a generous amount of the chicken mixture on top of the rice. Fold the banana leaf over the chicken mixture to make a neat, compact package. Repeat until all the chicken mixture and rice are used up.
  4. Steam the Chicken Pastil: Place the wrapped Pastil in a steamer basket and steam for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken and rice are cooked through. Alternatively, you can bake the Pastil in the oven at 350°F for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy: Once the Pastil is cooked, carefully remove it from the steamer or oven and unwrap it from the banana leaf. Serve hot and enjoy the unique and delicious flavors of this traditional Filipino dish.

Variations of Chicken Pastil

While the traditional Pastil recipe is delicious on its own, there are also many variations of this dish that you can try. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Spicy Pastil – Add chili flakes or chopped fresh chilies to the chicken mixture for some added heat.
  2. Beef Pastil – Replace the chicken with ground beef for a different flavor and texture.
  3. Vegetarian Pastil – Use tofu or mushrooms instead of chicken for a vegetarian version of this dish.
  4. Egg Pastil – Add a hard-boiled egg to the center of the rice before adding the chicken mixture for an extra protein boost.
  5. Seafood Pastil – Substitute shrimp or fish for the chicken for a seafood twist on this classic dish.

No matter which variation you choose, the key to making a delicious Pastil is using fresh, high-quality ingredients and cooking it with care and attention to detail.


Chicken Pastil is a beloved Filipino dish that has been enjoyed for generations. Its unique blend of flavors and spices, combined with the use of banana leaves for cooking and presentation, make it a truly special dish. Whether enjoyed for breakfast, as a snack, or as a main dish, Pastil is a perfect representation of the rich and diverse culinary traditions of the Philippines. By following this recipe and using your own creativity, you can create your own version of Chicken Pastil that is sure to be a hit with your family and friends.

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