Palestine - Musakhan
Okay. First and foremost, I know that the topic of Palestine is an extremely sensitive and debatable topic, but I don’t want to get into that. Whether it’s a country, region, state, territory, whatever, you guys know what my goals are for Who Noms the World, and I hope y’all can respect that I still posted a dish from Palestine. Note: It didn’t really matter because I got one person on Instagram attacking me for not acknowledging it 100% is a country.
But more importantly, this dish. It filled the kitchen with lots of wonderful smells. Justin walked in and immediately asked what that amazing smell is.
The chicken was seared, then boiled in water to make a WONDERFUL broth-y soup to serve on the side. Then, the chicken was brushed with spices and baked. Wonderful flavor for the chicken. Serve it on top of some bread, yogurt, and top it with almonds, and you got a WONDERFUL meal you can eat with your hands.
I don’t normally like to get messy by eating with my hands, but ripping the bread and using it to grab pieces of chicken and onions, a great way to share a meal!
Unfortunately moving forward, I’m going to try resisting recipes heavy on onions. I think over time, my gut has become sensitive or intolerant to it, which makes me sad because caramelized onions are my absolute favorite for any recipe. It’s been the common denominator and it’s at least something I’m going to try to eat less of. BUT, now I can be challenged even further when it comes to picking and choosing recipes. Which, speaking of, I made an updated list of countries I have left, and there are a lot of really great things coming up! Some desserts too!
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4-5 chicken legs
Water, as needed
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 bay leaves
4 medium white onions, divided
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
3.5 onions, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon, divided
Olive oil, divided; exact amounts are given in the instructions
2 tablespoons sumac
Sub 1 tablespoon lemon zest mixed with 1 tablespoon salt if you can’t find sumac
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 handful slivered almonds
Flatbread, 1 per person, or rice, to serve
To cook the chicken, heat a pot over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the vegetable oil until shimmering. Brown the chicken legs on all sides, then add enough water to just cover all the chicken. Raise the temperature to high and bring the water to a boil. Add salt, cardamom, bay leaves, half of one onion, roughly chopped, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 35 minutes.
While the chicken is simmering, thinly slice the remaining 3 1/2 onions. Heat a large pan over medium-low heat. When the pan is ready, add the ½ cup of olive oil. Once it starts to shimmer, add the sliced onions. Season with a few pinches of salt (about 1 tablespoon), and give it a good stir every few minutes, for about 15-20 minutes total. Don’t let it brown. If it starts to brown, it’s possible the onions are sitting too long without stirring. After time is up, add the sumac (or the lemon zest / salt mixture). Let it simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring as needed. Remove from the heat.
Preheat your oven to 395 degrees F. At this point, the chicken should be done, or close to being done. In a mixing bowl or Ziploc bag, add the paprika, allspice, cumin, pepper, and the coriander. Add the chicken, along with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Give it a good toss so that the chicken is well mixed with the seasonings. Bake the chicken for about 15 minutes.
In a pan over medium heat, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the slivered almonds and fry until golden. Should only be a few minutes, maximum. Careful they don’t burn.
You can either plate it now or take one additional step.
Set the chicken aside and put the flatbread on the baking pan. Spoon half of the onion mixture, followed by the chicken, followed by the other half of the onions. Then bake for an additional 5 minutes. When ready to eat, garnish with the almonds.
Note: if you decide to use rice instead of the flatbread, you can use the chicken stock from the pot to make a really flavorful rice. I like to also add a dash of turmeric to give it an even richer color and flavor.
Recipe adapted from Taste of Palestine.