Musakhan – Chicken with Sumac & Onions


Musakhan – Chicken with Sumac & Onions

Musakhan – Chicken with Sumac & Onions

Musakhan is a popular Palestinian dish of chicken, caramelised onions & sumac, served on flatbread.  It’s really easy to make – you marinate the chicken overnight, but apart from that step it’ll take a little over an hour.  In terms of ingredients – traditionally it’s made using taboon bread, which I’ve not been able to find myself (I may try & make some soon & share the recipe!) but I find plain naan bread works well – you want something that isn’t too thin.

Serves 4

One chicken, quartered (or use 4 chicken legs as an alternative)

Chicken marinade:
¼ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp allspice
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil

1kg onions, sliced into fairly thin half moons
2 tbsp sumac
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
200ml olive oil
1 large or 2 medium naan breads
100g pine nuts.

Quarter the chicken – I find this easiest to do with a pair of kitchen shears, or there are guides on the net on how to do it with a knife.  Place the chicken breast down, & use the shears to cut through either side of the chicken’s spine from the openings in it’s bottom to it’s neck.  Discard the spine.

Flip the chicken over, & press down on its breast to splay it out.  Use the shears to cut through the chicken between the 2 breasts (I often find it easier to cut the skin first then start on the breastbone).  Once separated into 2 halves, cut between the breast/wing & legs.  Tidy up by cutting off any  loose flaps of skin.

Mix the chicken marinade together, & rub into the chicken quarters.  Place in bowl, cover & put in fridge for a couple of hours, or even overnight – if marinating overnight take it out about an hour before you’re ready to cook to allow it to return to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 220 °C / 200 °C fan / gas mark 7, & put the 200ml of oil in a pan over a low to medium heat to heat up.

Place the chicken in a large roasting tray & cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes.  Whilst the chicken is cooking, put the sliced onions in the pan, stirring occasionally.  You want them to be golden brown, but not completely mushy – this should take 20-30 minutes.

When the onions are done, take them off the heat & drain through a colander or sieve suspended over a bowl, retaining the oil used for cooking.  Add the sumac, salt & pepper.

When the chicken has cooked, remove from the oven & place on a plate, & turn the oven down to 200 °C / 180 °C fan / gas mark 6.  Tip the onion into the roasting tray & stir around, so they take on some of the flavour of the cooked chicken juices.  Tip the onions back into the colander over the oil bowl, scraping out any tasty bits stuck to the roasting tray at the same time, & allow to drain some more.

Place the naan bread in the roasting tray & put back in the oven for 2-3 minutes to allow it to crisp up slightly.  Brush the bread with some of the drained oil from the onions, then spread the onions out over the naan.  Place the chicken quarters on top of this, & put back into the oven for 10 minutes.

Whilst this is cooking, heat up a small dry frying pan, & toast the pine nuts, & sprinkle  over the dish when it comes out of the oven.

To serve, slice the naan into 4, each piece containing some chicken, & plate up with a salad & some yoghurt.