April 24, 2010

Mussakhan - Chicken and Onion Sumac Wrap.

If you are new to my blog, please read my Welcome Note first.

Mussakhan or Chicken and Onion Sumac wrap is a typical Palestinian dish, also found in Jordan and ze Lebanon.

There are different ways of preparing it, but I will give you the simple way, easy to prepare provided you get the right ingredients - obviously. No cutting corners here.

The whole trick of Mussakhan lies in the Sumac. You  find Sumac in most Arabic shops.

What you need for 4 persons (assuming that 1 chicken is enough for 4)

- 1 chicken cut in 4 quarters.
- at least 8 medium size onions
- about  3 - 4 tbs of Sumac
- 2 - 3 tbs of pine nuts(I like pine nuts so I use 3tbs)
- gloves, cardamon whole, bay leaves, pepper corns, cinnamon sticks,
- 2 tbs of OLIVE oil
- 2 large flat Arabic bread - here I find the saj  bread, which looks like Iraqi bread and has like bubbles in it...this is the best to use but if you don't find that type of bread, use the LARGE Arabic "pitta" bread, small ones can also be used, but it don' t really work, unless you make sandwiches of the chicken/onion/sumac mix but then this is no longer Mussakhan.


-  I am always shocked when I see people using a chicken straight out a wrap without washing it. A BAD HABIT.  So wash your chicken. First I rub coarse salt all over the pieces, then rinse it off.

- place your chicken pieces in boiling water to which you will add the following

* 3 whole cardamons
* 1 stick of cinnamon cut in two
* 3 bay leaves
* 4 whole gloves
* a little pepper corns - you can also use  ground.

- Boil your chicken until well cooked. I usually take off any excess foam (it looks like some white froth) when it is boiling, otherwise the stock becomes too greasy and the taste is  rancid.

- meanwhile - slice your onions and you need to be GENEROUS with the onions, slice them into thin  rounds that you cut in 2 - i.e half rounds. The onions cannot be chopped they  must be in half rounds. so it will look like crescents/new moons. I am trying to find the best way to explain to you what I mean. So crescent is a good image.

- fry your onions with the sumac in olive oil - olive oil by the way should never be heated...just mix the whole thing together until the onions become tender, once tender add your pine nuts and keep frying until onions and pine take a slight golden hue  (not brown). You can always add a few spoons of your drained chicken stock to make the onions even more tender  and so the sumac mixes well with the rest without  it burning or turning too sour. Once cooked - leave to the side.

- get a Teflon oven dish, which you will wipe with some olive oil first, place your Arabic bread which you would have parted in 2 slices, (by slices I mean don't cut/slice the bread, just tear it into two parts - since Arabic bread looks like a thin sandwich, so just undo the sandwich)

- place two slices at the bottom of the tray, pour a little chicken stock on top so it won't dry out.

- use half of your onions/sumac/pine mix including the olive oil in which it was fried and place on top of the bread.

- arrange your chicken pieces and cover with the remaining onions/sumac/pine mix

- you can cover the chicken with an extra half of an Arabic bread but make sure to tuck the edges inside the tray so it won't burn. I don't usually use extra bread apart from the one at the bottom of the tray,

- place in a pre-heated oven, until the chicken takes on a gold brown color,

- tip 1 : if you feel that the whole thing is drying out, just use some of your chicken stock and sprinkle over.
- tip 2 : drain the remaining chicken stock, all flavored with the wonderful aromas of spices and use it for soup or instead of water when cooking rice. But that's for another recipe..

To be served hot and this is BEST eaten with your hands. Enjoy !