Mussakhan (Roast Chicken with Sumac and Red Onions)

Mussakhan (Roast Chicken with Sumac and Red Onions)
Yasmin Khan

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 flavorsome 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.


  • 2 lb./1kg chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ÂĽ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tablespoons 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 1 lb./500g), finely sliced into half-moons
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or any neutral 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 3/4 inch/2cm apart, and then place the meat in a large bowl or plastic container.
  2. Pour over the extra virgin olive oil, spices, lemon juice, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon 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 375°F/190°C.
  4. Transfer the meat to a baking pan 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 cooking oil for a minute or so until they turn golden brown, then tip onto a paper towel 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.

Recipe and photograph from Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan. Copyright © 2018 by Yasmin Khan. Reprinted with permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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