Mussakhan is a classic Palestinian dish eaten in villages throughout the region. Traditionally the meat is laid out on a giant piece of bread with the flavoursome roasting juices poured over it, so that they seep into the dough. This platter is then placed on the table for everyone to pull off sections of bread and chicken: a wonderful sharing meal. As it can be challenging to find such large pieces of flatbread in most shops, I’ve suggested using individual naan breads instead…but, of course, if you can, seek out traditional sheets of Arabic taboon bread from Middle Eastern stores. If you are avoiding gluten, the chicken is just as delicious on its own, or served with rice or a salad.
- 1kg chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin on
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 11/2 tbsp sumac, plus more to dust
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large red onions (about 500g),finely sliced into half-moons
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 tbsp light olive oil
- Naan or Arabic taboon bread, to serve
- Chopped parsley leaves
1. Slash the flesh of each piece of chicken diagonally a few times, around 2cm apart, and then place the meat in a large bowl or plastic food container.
2. Pour over the extra virgin olive oil, spices, lemon juice, garlic, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and rub this into the meat. Add the red onions and toss everything together well. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1-3 hours.
3. When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas mark 5.
4. Transfer the meat to a baking tray and roast for about 35 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear when pierced at their thickest part. Once the chicken is cooked, cover in foil and leave to rest while you prepare the toppings.
5. Fry the pine nuts in the light olive oil for a minute or so until they turn golden brown, then tip onto kitchen paper to drain.
6. To serve, toast the naan or taboon bread and then place the chicken and red onion on top. Finish with a smattering of pine nuts, sumac and chopped parsley. Drizzle over any remaining roasting juices so they soak into the bread, then sprinkle over a little more extra virgin olive oil.
This feature was originally published in the Winter 2018 edition of World Food Tour, available to read here.