Musakhan - Palestinian Sumac Chicken is a traditional Middle Eastern dish made with marinated chicken legs served over a flatbread with caramelized red onions, sumac, and pine nuts.
Just like Baked Chicken Leg Quarters, Marry Me Chicken, and Joojeh Kabab (Persian Chicken Kebab), this chicken recipe is also extremely easy to make using everyday ingredients that you may already have in your fridge or pantry.
Ready in just one hour, this delicious and juicy sumac chicken dish is perfect for a weekday meal or for family gatherings.
- What is Musakhan?
- Why This Recipe Works?
- Ingredients You'll Need
- How to Make Musakhan - Palestinian Sumac Chicken?
- Marinate the Chicken
- Cook the Chicken and Onions
- Assemble the Musakhan
- Top Tips From the Chef
- What to Serve with Palestinian Chicken Musakhan?
- Storage and Reheating
- Recipe FAQs
- Related Recipes
- Musakhan - Palestinian Sumac Chicken
The recipe for Musakhan - Sumac Chicken might vary depending on the region.
Most of the versions caramelize the onions separately and serve them on a traditional bread called "taboon" along with roasted chicken and sautéed pine nuts.
To simplify the cooking process and end up with less washing up, I roast the chicken pieces on top of the sliced onions.
To give them a bit of caramelization, I spread the onions on top of the chicken pieces for 10 minutes at the end of the cooking time.
The result is extremely delicious, and juicy chicken pieces with crispy skin and nicely caramelized onions.
What is Musakhan?
Musakhan is a hugely popular national dish of Palestine made of marinated chicken pieces served on a taboon bread with caramelized onions, sumac, and crunchy pine nuts.
The star ingredient is sumac, which gives a unique citrusy flavor to this comforting dish.
Musakhan is a very simple dish made with everyday ingredients.
Therefore, it is a very popular and traditional dish in Palestine and most Middle Eastern countries.
The traditional way to eat this delicious sumac chicken dish is to eat it with your hands.
Musakhan was traditionally made around the olive oil pressing season when freshly pressed oil could be incorporated into the dish.
The onions were typically braised in a generous amount of olive oil, a very similar method for cooking Turkish Zeytinyagli dishes such as Imam Bayildi (Turkish Stuffed Eggplant) and Mediterranean Green Beans (Taze Fasulye).
Why This Recipe Works?
- This traditional Palestinian dish is surprisingly easy to make this delicious Musakhan recipe with simple everyday ingredients.
- You don't need to caramelize the onions separately, simply bake the marinated chicken pieces on a bed of sliced onions.
- The leftover Musakhan is great for making wraps or shredding on salads.
Ingredients You'll Need
Please scroll down to the recipe card below for the full ingredients list with measurements, complete recipe method, recipe notes, and nutritional information.
- Chicken - I prefer using skin-on and bone-in chicken thighs. You can also use a whole chicken, chicken legs, or drumsticks if you prefer.
- Bread - Traditionally, Musakhan is served over taboon bread. However, you can use any flatbread or naan bread such as Greek Pita Bread, Garlic Naan - Indian Flatbread, and Pakistani Roghni Naan.
- Sumac - It is a popular spice in Middle Eastern and Turkish cooking. It is a versatile seasoning that adds bright red color and tartness to a dish. You can buy it from the majority of large supermarkets as well as online from Amazon.
- Onions - I use thinly sliced red onions to intensify the red color of the dish. However, you can use brown or yellow onions if you prefer.
- Pine nuts - Toasted pine nuts in olive oil level up this recipe. You can substitute them with almonds if you don’t have pine nuts.
- Oil - I use good quality olive oil to achieve the best flavor.
- Mixture of spices - I prefer adding allspice, cinnamon, cumin, salt, black pepper, and sumac to the chicken marinade.
- Garlic - It is a great flavoring for marinating the chicken. You can turn it into a paste with a mortar and pestle or grate it with a Microplane.
How to Make Musakhan - Palestinian Sumac Chicken?
Making this delicious traditional Palestinian recipe dish is very simple and straightforward.
However, to achieve the best results you need to follow a few tips and simple steps:
Marinate the Chicken
To make the marinade, mix together freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, sumac, garlic, cumin, allspice, cinnamon powder, salt, and freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl.
Add the chicken pieces into the bowl and cover them with marinade, making sure all of them are nicely coated.
Cover the bowl and let it marinate for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Don't let the chicken marinate for more than 24 hours!
Cook the Chicken and Onions
Preheat the oven to 180° C (360° F).
Peel and thinly slice the red onions, and spread them evenly on the bottom of your baking dish.
Place the marinated chicken pieces over the red onions on a single layer, without overlapping each other.
Bake them for 40 minutes, remove the dish from the oven, and flip the onions on top of the chicken pieces to give them some caramelization.
Bake them for another 10 - 15 minutes.
Assemble the Musakhan
Once the chicken is done, let it rest lightly covered with foil while preparing the flatbread.
Reheat the bread pieces either using a skillet on the stovetop or baking it in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes.
Lightly toast the pine nuts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Arrange the flat bread on a plate, and top it with the caramelized sumac onions, chicken pieces, and toasted pine nuts.
Sprinkle on extra lemony sumac and chopped parsley, and serve with lemon wedges and salad on the side.
Top Tips From the Chef
- For a delicious sumac chicken recipe, use bone-in and skin-on chicken pieces such as legs, drumsticks, or thighs.
- Marinate the chicken for a minimum of 2 hours if you have time. Don't let the chicken marinate for more than 24 hours!
- You can turn your Musakhan dish into Musakhan Wraps to make it easier to eat. Simply shred the chicken and place it onto flatbread along with some onions, pinenuts, salad, and a drizzle of yogurt. Roll it nice and tight and serve!
What to Serve with Palestinian Chicken Musakhan?
TABOULE (LEBANESE TABOULI SALAD) - A refreshing salad made with bulgur wheat, parsley, tomatoes, onions, mint, and lemon juice. Its zesty and herby flavors complement the richness of the Musakhan.
MEDITERRANEAN HUMMUS DIP - A creamy chickpea dip with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. It serves as a delightful dip for bread and adds a creamy element to the meal.
BABA GANOUSH WITHOUT TAHINI - A smoky eggplant dip blended with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. Its earthy flavors provide a lovely contrast to the chicken.
LEBANESE FATTOUSH SALAD - A colorful salad made with fresh vegetables, toasted pita bread, and a tangy sumac dressing. It adds crunch and freshness to the meal.
HOMEMADE LABNEH (YOGURT CHEESE) - A creamy strained yogurt cheese, often drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with za'atar or dried mint. It balances the meal with its mild and cooling taste.
MUTABAL (ROASTED EGGPLANT DIP) - Similar to baba ganoush but with a smoother texture, moutabal is another eggplant-based dip that pairs well with the chicken.
TURKISH RICE PILAF (SEHRIYELI PILAV) - A buttery rice pilaf can serve as a hearty side dish that complements the chicken.
Storage and Reheating
If you have leftovers of Musakhan, allow the dish to cool to room temperature before storing it.
Transfer the chicken and its accompaniments to an airtight container or cover it tightly with plastic wrap or foil.
Store the Musakhan in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months to maintain its freshness and flavors.
To reheat the Musakhan, it's best to use an oven or stovetop for even heating.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
Place the Musakhan in an oven-safe dish, cover it with foil, and heat for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly heated.
Alternatively, you can reheat the dish on the stovetop. Place it in a skillet over medium-low heat and gently warm it while stirring occasionally.
Yes, you can marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours ahead and keep them refrigerated until you need them.
I don't recommend using chicken breast for this delicious Palestine’s national dish but you can use them. Bear in mind that the chicken breast won't be as juicy as the legs.
Sumac is a tangy and citrusy spice commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. It can be found in specialty spice stores, Middle Eastern markets, or online from Amazon.
While the traditional recipe calls for bone-in chicken pieces, you can use boneless chicken if you prefer.
However, bone-in chicken typically adds more flavor to the dish.
For more delicious and authentic recipes from the Middle East why not try:
I hope you enjoy the process of making this delicious and unique Musakhan - Sumac Chicken dish as much as you enjoy eating it! 🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet olsun!
Musakhan - Palestinian Sumac Chicken
For Marinating the Chicken
- 1 kg chicken thighs or legs (bone-in skin-on)
- 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon good quality olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoon sumac
- 4 cloves garlic (turned into paste or grated)
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Musakhan - Sumac Chicken
- 3 large red onions (thinly sliced)
- 2 tablespoon pine nuts
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 4 taboon, naan, or pita bread
- 4 tablespoon Greek yogurt or plain natural yogurt (optional)
Marinating the Chicken
- To make the marinade, mix together freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, sumac, garlic, cumin, allspice, cinnamon powder, salt, and freshly ground black pepper in a large bowl.
- Add the chicken pieces into the bowl and cover them with marinade, making sure all of them are nicely coated.
- Cover the bowl and let it marinate for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight. Don't let the chicken marinate for more than 24 hours!
Cooking the Chicken and Onions
- Preheat the oven to 180° C (360° F).
- Peel and thinly slice the red onions, and spread them evenly on the bottom of your baking dish.
- Place the marinated chicken pieces over the red onions on a single layer, without overlapping each other.
- Bake them for 40 minutes, remove the dish from the oven, and flip the onions on top of the chicken pieces to give them some caramelization. Bake them for another 10 - 15 minutes.
Assembling the Musakhan
- Once the chicken is done, let it rest lightly covered with foil while preparing the flatbread.
- Reheat the bread pieces either using a skillet on the stovetop or baking it in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Lightly toast the pinenuts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Arrange the flatbread on a plate, and top it with the caramelized onions, chicken pieces, and toasted pine nuts.
- Sprinkle on extra sumac and chopped parsley, and serve with lemon wedges and salad on the side.
- For a delicious and juicy Musakhan dish, use skin-on, and bone-in chicken pieces such as legs, drumsticks, or thighs.
- Marinate the chicken for a minimum of 2 hours if you have time. <em>Don't let the chicken marinate for more than 24 hours!
- You can turn your Musakhan dish into <strong>Musakhan Wraps</strong> to make it easier to eat. Simply shred the chicken and place it onto flatbread along with some onions, pinenuts, salad, and a drizzle of yogurt. Roll it nice and tight and serve!
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