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Recipe of the week: Mussakhan – roast chicken with sumac and red onions

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Written by:
Recipe of the week: Mussakhan – roast chicken with sumac and red onions

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.

Serves 4

1kg chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin on
3tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus  more to serve
½tsp ground cumin
½tsp ground allspice
¼tsp ground cinnamon
1½tbs 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
2tbs pine nuts
1tbs light olive oil
Naan or Arabic taboon bread,  to serve
Chopped parsley leaves

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.

Pour over the extra virgin olive oil, spices, lemon juice, garlic, 1½tsp of salt and ¼tsp 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 one to three hours.

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

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.

Fry the pine nuts in the light olive oil until they turn golden brown, then tip on to kitchen paper to drain. 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.

Book review: Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan >>

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