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Chicken Pastil Recipe

Chicken Pastil is a traditional Filipino dish that perfectly encapsulates the rich cultural diversity and culinary artistry of the Philippines. This mouthwatering delicacy combines tender shredded chicken, fragrant rice, and a medley of aromatic spices, resulting in a harmonious fusion of flavors that has captivated the hearts and palates of many.

The Essence of Chicken Pastil:

At its core, Chicken Pastil is a labor of love, where each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating a symphony of tastes. The star of the dish is the succulent chicken, which is meticulously cooked until it reaches a fork-tender consistency. The rice, often infused with a blend of turmeric and other spices, adds a vibrant golden hue that is both visually appealing and indicative of the dish’s complexity.

Cultural Roots and Heritage:

Chicken Pastil’s origins can be traced back to the Mindanao region in the southern Philippines, where it is deeply embedded in the local culture. It is often prepared for special occasions, feasts, and gatherings, symbolizing unity and the joy of communal dining. The dish’s unique flavors and preparation methods have been passed down through generations, allowing it to evolve while maintaining its authentic essence.

chicken pastil recipe
chicken pastil recipe

Flavors and Aromas:

The marriage of flavors in Chicken Pastil is a sensory journey that delights the taste buds. The tender chicken, slow-cooked with an array of spices, lends a deep and savory profile. The turmeric-infused rice adds a mild earthiness, while the aromas of ginger, garlic, and coconut milk intertwine to create a tantalizing scent that lingers in the air.

Cooking Technique:

The cooking process of Chicken Pastil is a delicate art that requires precision and patience. The chicken is first marinated in a blend of spices before being simmered until tender. The rice is then cooked with turmeric, which not only imparts color but also enhances the dish’s overall flavor profile. The assembly involves layering the rice and chicken in banana leaves, allowing the ingredients to infuse with one another’s essence.

Chicken Pastil is a traditional Filipino dish that features shredded chicken cooked with rice, spices, and coconut milk, all wrapped in banana leaves for a unique flavor. Here’s a basic recipe for Chicken Pastil:

Chicken Pastil Recipe

Recipe by Heather Smith


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 2 cups glutinous rice

  • 2 cups coconut milk

  •  2 cups water

  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (you can use leftover roasted or boiled chicken)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (or turmeric powder)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Banana leaves, cleaned and cut into rectangular pieces (about 8x8 inches)

  • Cooking twine or toothpicks


  • Wash the glutinous rice thoroughly and soak it in water for about 30 minutes. Drain well.
  •  In a large pot, combine the soaked glutinous rice, coconut milk, water, chopped onion, minced garlic, ginger, ground turmeric, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  • Place the pot over medium heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the rice cook until it's fully cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. This should take about 20-25 minutes.
  • Once the rice is cooked, add the shredded chicken to the pot and mix well. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Cook for an additional 5 minutes to heat up the chicken.
  • Prepare your banana leaves by briefly passing them over an open flame to soften them. This will make them easier to fold.
  • Take a portion of the chicken and rice mixture and place it in the center of a banana leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over the mixture, then fold the top and bottom to form a neat package. You can secure the package with toothpicks or cooking twine.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining chicken and rice mixture and banana leaves.
  • Steam the wrapped pastil packages for about 15-20 minutes. This will infuse the flavors and soften the banana leaves further.
  • Once cooked, remove the pastil packages from the steamer and let them cool slightly before serving.
  • To eat, unwrap the banana leaves and enjoy the flavorful Chicken Pastil!

Nutritional Content:

  • Calories: Approximately 300-400 calories per serving
  • Protein: Approximately 15-20 grams per serving (from chicken and possibly rice)
  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 40-50 grams per serving (mainly from rice)
  • Fat: Approximately 5-10 grams per serving (from chicken and other sources)

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about Chicken Pastil:

1. What is the significance of using banana leaves in Chicken Pastil preparation?

Banana leaves serve both a practical and cultural purpose. They impart a subtle, unique flavor to the dish while also acting as natural wrappers that help retain moisture and aromas during cooking.

2. Can I use other meats instead of chicken?

Absolutely. While chicken is the traditional choice, variations of Chicken Pastil can be made using other meats like beef, pork, or even fish. Each variation brings its own distinct character to the dish.

3. Is Chicken Pastil spicy?

The level of spiciness can be adjusted according to personal preference. Traditional recipes might include a moderate level of heat, but you can always tailor the amount of chili or spices to suit your taste.

4. Can I make Chicken Pastil without coconut milk for dietary reasons?

Yes, you can adapt the recipe to your dietary needs. Coconut milk adds creaminess, but you can replace it with alternatives like almond milk or a broth of your choice.

5. How labor-intensive is the preparation of Chicken Pastil?

Chicken Pastil does involve several steps, including marination, slow-cooking, and assembly. While it may take some time, the end result is well worth the effort. Additionally, you can prepare certain components in advance to streamline the process.

chicken pastil recipe
chicken pastil recipe

What Is the Difference Between Underwood Chicken Spread and Chicken Pastil Recipe?

The underwood chicken spread recipe offers a convenient and ready-made option for those seeking a delicious chicken spread. On the other hand, the chicken pastil recipe requires some time and effort to prepare, but the end result is a flavorful rice dish topped with succulent chicken. Both options have their own unique flavors and preparation methods.


Chicken Pastil is more than just a dish; it’s a testament to the rich cultural heritage and culinary expertise of the Philippines. Its harmonious blend of flavors, vibrant colors, and distinctive cooking techniques create an unforgettable dining experience that brings people together to celebrate tradition, unity, and the art of gastronomy. Whether enjoyed on special occasions or as a culinary exploration, Chicken Pastil continues to capture the hearts and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide.

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