Musakhan is the national dish of Palestine, and it is as tasty as it is unique.
Definitely one of my favorite things to eat, and when made well, it makes you want to eat your fingers up after it, as the Arab expression goes.
It’s an easy recipe to make but a hard one to make just right.
Essentially it is chicken, onions, sumac, bread, and olive oil.
The trick is to get the perfect balance of well done chicken, soft bread with just enough crunch to it, onions that are translucent but not mushy, and sumac with olive oil that provides flavor without being grainy or greasy!
It just takes practice, and what a wonderful dish to practice on!
Musakhan literally translates as ‘heated up’ and is typically served on taboon bread, which is a thicker variety of flatbread cooked over hot rocks.
It was probably originated as a way to use up day old bread which is common to many cultures.
It is traditionally eaten with the hands, and can guarantee a messy experience of eating.
But there is no better way to eat this dish.
It’s quite difficult to eat with a knife and fork.
With your hands you can more easily gather up a piece of each ingredient for a full Musakhan experience with every bite.
I’m just back from Japan where we ate very well.
In the past when I have gone to Tokyo it was for my work in finance, which I have happily let behind!
That meant that I often stayed in the business district around Tokyo station, with the upscale area of Ginza nearby.
I normally enjoyed it, even though it was a very busy and commercial area.
Having given up the meaningless work of finance, I was not restricted to that area.
We did our research and found Shimokitazawa which is known as the hipster area of Tokyo.
We loved it, and I would definitely recommend a visit when in Tokyo.
It was full of really great restaurants, where chefs were being creative in their approaches to the way they prepared the food.
It was not the ‘traditional’ Japanese meal, but had all the components of that wonderful cuisine.
One place had a burrito spring roll, another had tuna tartare with avocado, served with toasted garlic bread.
Most had some form of sashimi, and some had a kind of deconstructed sushi which could be seen as a form of chirashi.
The sake was glorious in each place, and that is what I probably had the most of!
I like the idea of fusing foods and flavors from different cultures.
This is the kind of thing I have tried to do much of my cooking life.
Being a mixture of cultures myself, I enjoy finding what is different, and what is complementary.
Putting together what has traditionally be seperate can create some really good foods.
Of course failure rates can be high.
But then again success is usually built on a pile of failure.
The true cook is not afraid of these failures, and uses them as the learning process they are.
Give this Musakhan recipe a chance and I think you will find it to be one of the food success stories you are looking for!
For The Chicken
For The Chicken
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Mix the olive oil, seven spices, sumac, and salt in a small bowl.
- Place chicken in a baking tray, using your hands rub the spice mixture into the chicken skin.
- Bake for 30 minutes until done.
For The Bread
- Put the chopped onions with the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent. Do not brown.
- Mix the salt, sumac, cumin, seven spices. Add to onions once done.
- Split the onion mixture between the taboon bread loaves spreading on the bread leaving a rim around the edge.
- Place one chicken leg on each loaf of bread. Sprinkle equally with a few pine nuts.
- Place each loaf under the grill to toast the bread slightly.
- Serve while hot.