Recipes R Simple

MUSAKHAN – Palestinian Sumac Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Taboon Bread




musakhan recipe from scratch

MUSAKHAN – Palestinian Sumac Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Taboon Bread

  Sumac is a deep red colored fruit, ground to a fine powder and often used in Arabian cooking. It has a nice tart , lemony flavor. This dish  is primarily flavored with Sumac and Caramelized Onions. The chicken and bread is combined as one dish and served with  and Eggplant dip  (Baba Ganoush), The dish can be assembled is various ways. It can be arranged like a pizza  or baked in layers or rolls. A very tasty dish. Great for Ramadan. Here, we cook the whole chicken, cut into 2 pieces with skin and bones intact in a simple stock till tender. Onions are slowly caramelized in olive oil and flavored with sumac till very tender A little stock from the Chicken is added to the onions and cooked to a sauce.  The cooked chicken is removed from the stock and briefly cooked in the caramelized onion sauce before it is roasted in the oven till the skin is nice and golden.

The chicken can be served as is, with the Taboon bread which is also baked with a layer of the onion sauce OR it the skin and bones can be removed and the chicken hand shredded to pieces and baked along with the Bread topped with the sauce like a pizza OR  baked in layers of bread, sauce and chicken, alternately till a casserole is full. This can be cut and served in portions.  The Taboon or ‘Laffa’ Bread is a popular Arabian Bread. Here it is infused with ‘Zaatar’ – and Arabian Spice Blend. I like to soak the Bread in the remaining chicken stock before brushing with the caramelized onion sauce and then baked as desired. (SCROLL DOWN FOR RECIPE PICTORIAL VIDEO)

musakhan recipe musakhan palestinian Musakhan dish

MUSAKHAN – Palestinian Sumac Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Taboon Bread

Recipe Type: Main / Arabian / Chicken
Author: Recipes ‘R’ Simple
Prep time: 
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 30
Serves: 6


For the Taboon Bread:

  • 10 ½ oz plain flour
  • 7 oz bread flour plus upto 7 oz extra
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ‘Fast Action’ Dried Yeast
  • 1 ½ Tbsp zataar spice
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 325 ml warm water
  • 2 Tbsp Zataar and / or 1 ½ Tbsp Sumac for sprinkling

For the Caremelized Onion Sauce:

  • 3 large onions, chopped finely
  •  ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp sumac


For the Roasted Chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken  cleaned, rinsed well with skin and bones intact – cut into 2 or 4 sections
  • Juice of two small limes
  • 2 onions, chopped finely
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ¼ tsp cardamom powder
  • 1  ¼ tsp black pepper powder
  • 1  ¼  tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sumac
  • 3 Tbsp Pine Nuts / Almond flakes or I like to use Sunflower seeds.


For the Taboon Bread:

  • Sift both flours using a sift reserving the extra 7 oz of bread flour separately
  • Add the instant yeast, sugar, salt and zataar spice to the flour mixture.
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread - sifted flours
  • In another bowl combine the warm water with olive oil.
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread oil and water
  • Add the water solution to the dried ingredients and stir to completely mix the flour into a soft, sticky dough.
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread- Mixed Musakhan - Taboon Bread sticky dough
  • Cover the bowl with a wet cloth and leave to ‘prove’ for 10 minutes.
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread left to prove
  •  Turn out the dough onto a floured surface.
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread - knead on floured surface
  • Flour your hands too. Add just enough of the reserved flour to be able to knead the dough. Knead for 10 minutes into a dough that is very sticky and still shiny. (You can use a dough scraper to help with the sticky dough).
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread till sticky and shiny
  • Oil a bowl well. Also oil your hands. Turn out the dough into the oiled  bowl and turn a couple of times so that the entire surface is oiled.
  • Smoothen the surface.
  • Cover with cling wrap and leave for 1 hour till the dough has risen.
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread cover with cling wrap
  • Flour your hands well. Knock down the dough gently. On a floured surface, divide into 6 equal portions. Roll each ballon floured surface  into an 18 cm roundish shape. (Doesn’t have to be perfect – I love the rustic look).
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread - rolled
  • Place each round onto 6 lightly floured pieces of cloth.
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread on floured cloths
  • Use a water spritzer to spray a little water over surface and then sprinkle the zataar and sumac over the breads. (I sometimes omit the  zataar here).
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread spritzed Musakhan - Taboon Bread sprinkle sumac
  • Leave to prove for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile preheat the oven to MAX Temp, placing a pizza stone or old tray inside.  You can also use a tray with small clean stones/ baking stones  on it. It needs to get very hot.
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread - heat stone
  • Place 1- 3 pieces of bread at a time on the stone. Close quickly and allow to puff up and get golden.
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread place bread Musakhan - Taboon Bread puffed golden
  • ( Do not open the oven too often, The temperature will drop. Take the bread to the oven along with the cloth on which it is placed. Carefully  flip over and fold the cloth in from both sides to peel it off easily. Then flip onto the hot stone. Slide out the oven rack on which the stone is placed if your oven is smaller and close the oven quickly ).
  • Set aside the baked breads.
  • Musakhan - Taboon Bread set aside

For the Roasted Chicken:

  • Clean the chicken well. Split the chicken into to 2 halves.
  • Rinse and drain well.
  • Marinate well with the juice of two small limes and a little olive oil.
  • Musakhan - Sumac Chicken - Marinated
  • Set aside while chopping onions.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pot large enough to hold the chicken and broth.
  • Add the onions and saute till just softened.
  • Musakhan - Sumac Chicken - saute onion for stock
  • Add the marinated chicken and toss in the onions briefly.
  • Musakhan - Sumac Chicken - add chicken
  • Add enough water to cover the chicken.
  • add spices
  • Add the cardamom powder, salt and pepper.
  • Musakhan - Sumac Chicken - add water
  • Bring to boil on HIGH. Then cover, reduce heat to LOW and cook for 30 minutes, skimming off any scum that appears on top.
  • Musakhan - Sumac Chicken - cover
  • Remove the chicken from the broth and add to the onion sauce that is being prepared on a separate burner ( see below). Cook with the onion for 2-3 minutes only. Then transfer the chicken only to an oven proof oiled dish and Sprinkle with Sumac.
  • Musakhan - Sumac Chicken - add to onion sauce place in casserole
  • Place in the oven in the rack closer to the top grill. Roast just till the skin is crisp and deep golden olden brown. Preheat oven to High Heat. (230 °c  / 446°F). Time may vary. 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Musakhan - Sumac Chicken - roasted
  • Allow to cool. You can serve as is. OR Remove the skin and bones and shred the chicken by hand to small strips as I have done.
  • Musakhan - Sumac Chicken - saute onion for stock

For the Caremelized Onion Sauce:

  • After you have covered the Pot of stock with chicken and left to simmer, start to prepare the Onion Sauce.
  • Add the olive oil to a medium sized pot. Non stick is good.
  • Also add the chopped onion and on medium heat, slowly cook and reduce the onions till very soft and cooked.
  • Musakhan - Caramelized Onion - SAUTE Musakhan - Caramelized Onion - OLIVE OILA AND ONION
  • Cook around 15- 20 minutes till the onions are considerably reduced – then add a few ladles of the chicken stock into the onions and simmer.
  • Musakhan - Caramelized Onion -ADD STOCK Musakhan - Caramelized Onion -REDUCE
  • Remove the chicken that has been cooked and add to the onion mixture. Cook for 3 minutes and remove. Continue as mentioned above.
  • Musakhan - Sumac Chicken - add to onion sauce
  • Add the sumac and and a little salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook down the  onions and stock till it becomes a saucy texture.
  • Musakhan - Caramelized Onion -SUMAC Musakhan - Caramelized Onion -THICK SAUCE

To Assemble: Choose whichever method you prefer.

  • Dip each bread in the remaining stock to gently soak.
  • Musakhan - aSSEMBLE -SOAK BREAD
  • Lay in casserole or Tray. Cover with a layer of the onion sumac sauce.
  • Musakhan - aSSEMBLE - layer Musakhan - aSSEMBLE - layer sumac
  • Then cover with another layer of the  shredded chicken. (Like a pizza)
  • Sprinkle some sumac and toasted nuts.
  • Musakhan - aSSEMBLE - layer chicken
  • Bake for around 3 – 5 till the bread has become slightly crisp on medium high heat. Repeat with remaining bread and topping.
  • musakhan recipe from scratch
  • OR Do the same but place the bread, onion and chicken in a deep round casserole (oiled). Continue with next layers of bread, sauce and chicken and end with a bread layer, sprinkled with sumac. This makes a one dish meal that can be cut and served in portions. (Like a Lasagna).
  • Musakhan - aSSEMBLE - layer chicken Musakhan - aSSEMBLE -top with bread
  • Instead of layers, each bread with topping can also be rolled up like a burrito and placed side by side in a rectangular dish. (Like Enchiladas). If baking in casserole dish, bake upto 20 minutes, till the bread looks golden from the sides.
  • Serve with Baba Ganoush Or Toom (Arabian Garlic Sauce).



MUSAKHAN – Palestinian Sumac Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Taboon Bread

Try it and let us know – MUSAKHAN – Palestinian Sumac Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Taboon Bread .

To make a lighter ‘Toom’ , add ¾ cup water mixed with 2 Tbsp cornflour to a sauce pan and bring to simmer. Stir well for 2 minutes till nice and thick. Allow to cool slightly.
While still a little warm, add 1-2 small cloves garlic (crushed with salt).
When cooled add to a mixer/blender and add 2 Tbsp water. Mix till it becomes WHITE. While the blender is still running. drizzle in ¼ cup of oil ( sunflower/ canola) in a thin stream. Add just enough of the oil to get the desired consistency. Add a little lemon juice as per taste.
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