How Did This Popular Palestinian Musakhan Unite Us Today


August 10, 2015 by Joanne T Ferguson

How Did This Popular Palestinian Musakhan Unite Us Today?

I can share right away, this is a colorful, healthy, delicious and traditional dish and can more than understand why it is a popular Palestinian dish!

I honestly cannot believe it has been a full month since I asked, “Are You Curious About Omani cuisine?” in creating Joanna’s Interpretation of Shurbah – Pureed Vegetable Soup!

Vegetable-soup-Omani-cuisine-chicken-whatsonthelistFEEL FREE TO PIN

Soon we will be ringing in yet another new year!

Before that happens, I can say how excited I am to be participating in this month’s Middle Eastern and North African Cooking Club‘s challenge experiencing Palestinian cuisine.

Middle-eastern-cooking-club-whatsonthelist Middle-Eastern-North-African-Cooking-club-whatsonthelist
What did I know about Palestinian cuisine previously?

Very little!

Did I know what Palestinian Musakhan, sumac Palestinian chicken with onions, was?


I had tasted various types of Taboon bread aka tabun bread when I spent timed in the Middle East, but I have never made it at home!

I love experiencing foods of all countries and cuisines, especially recipes I have never made before!

How about a few background basics to acquaint you with Palestine, eh?

Palestine is located on the continent of Asia, located between Egypt, Syria and Arabia and between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

Middle-east-Israel-worldatlas.jpg Israel-map-worldatlas
I am someone, who on occasion, can be “geographically gifted” and being honest, it is sometimes difficult to keep “up to date” with historical changes, not only in the Middle East, but throughout the world.

For simplicity sake, the Jewish state of Israel, was establish in 1948 after World War II.

In 1948, the United Nations declared the area that was known as Palestine, to be divided into two separate countries; Palestine and Israel; Arab leaders rejected this and invaded to maintain a unified, independent Arab Palestine.

They lost, and at the end of the fighting, Israel controlled “even more” of the land than the United Nations had granted them; one of the areas, still under Palestinian control is The Gaza Strip.

Israel occupied the territory in 1967, but withdrew its troops in 2005.

The State of Palestine, not recognized by all countries, was established in 1988 and is controlled by The Palestinian Liberation Organization aka The PLO.


Many people ask why Israel and Palestine don’t just become separate countries; the answer lies in that neither party cannot agree where to draw borders; who gets what land and how it is controlled.

I don’t know about you, but all of this has caused FANG, one of my food nicknames, to be hungry!

Palestinian cuisine, based on its history, is similar to Turkish, Lebanese and Israeli cuisine.

While recipes and cooking styles vary from region to region, ingredients used in Palestinian recipes are usually based on climate, location and tradition.

Palestinian culture revolves around food in every aspect, whether daily life or special occasions.

Like in most Arab countries, meal times are usually spent with family and can take up to 1 to 2 hours, with lunch being the primary course, and breakfast and dinner being lighter in content.

Fatur is a term for breakfast, which usually consists of eggs, labaneh, olives, jams and olive oil; hummus is usually enjoyed throughout the day.

Ghada, meaning lunch, usually consists of more substantial chicken, lamb and rice dishes.

Asha is the term for dinner, which is usually eaten between 8 – 10 p.m and may consist of a variety of salads and dips.

As with previous Middle Eastern and North African Cook Club‘s challenges, three recipes are chosen; savory, soup and or sweets.

This month’s recipes were: Palestinian Musakhan — sumac Palestinian chicken with onions, Shorbet Adas — Lentil Soup and Kunafe Nubulsia , a “gooey sweet cheese sandwiched between layers of shredded kunafe pastry.”

I decided to try my good friend Sawsan from Chef in Disguise‘s Musakhan, also making Taboon bread from scratch!

I was so glad, I did as Sawsan shared:
“Musakhan is one of the most popular and traditional Palestinian recipes. It is usually prepared during the olive oil pressing season to celebrate freshly pressed oil but you can see it on the menu all year round in family gatherings and parties. Musakhan is all about fresh, simple ingredients allowed to shine. Good olive oil, tangy sumac, a hint of spices, onions caramelized to the point of being sweet and tender, perfectly roasted chicken and fresh bread. Simple yet you have to taste it to see how a dish can be much more than the sum of its parts.”

I halved Sawsan’s recipe, air fried my chicken pieces and used Azlin Bloor’s Taboon Bread recipe found via LinsFood.

Musakhan (sumac Palestinian chicken with onions) - Chef in Disguise recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This sumac Palestinian chicken with onions is very easy to make and is very healthy and delicious!
Recipe type: Palestinian
Serves: 2 serves
  • 500 grams onions peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Sumac
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamon
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 chicken breast pieces; bone in
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamon
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • taboon bread
  • For the decoration
  • Nuts for topping; pan dry roasted (pine nuts or almonds are the most commonly used ones)
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  1. Place onions in a pot and add enough olive oil to submerge the onions completely.
  2. Cook the onion over low heat stirring occasionally til the onions are translucent but still hold their shape and have some texture; you don't want them mushy. (this will take 20 - 30 minutes)
  3. Once the onions are done, place them in a colander to drain off the olive oil; Do not discard the oil.
  4. After the oil has been drained off, sprinkle the onions with sumac, cardamon and black pepper and toss them until they are completely coated with sumac (note the color and the taste deepens when you leave the onions aside so add the sumac gradually, you can always add more if you want.
  5. The Chicken (see Notes); can sear, poach the chicken in a separate pan on the stove top.
  6. Assemble the musakhan (see Notes)
  7. Pre heat over to 200C and place on the rack on the bottom.
  8. brush the bread with some of the olive oil strained from cooking and onions.
  9. Remove from oven and top with nuts, sprinkle with sumac and serve with yogurt; I chose homemade feta.
Original recipe via Sawsan's, Chef in Disguise wonderful food blog!
Per Sawsan, "make sure you don't chop the onions too fine or they will get soft with cooking and lose texture."
I air fried the chicken for 20 minutes; 220C.
Taboon Bread Linsfood used, but followed Sawsan's instructions to assemble.

Palestinian-Musakhan-taboon-bread-whatsonthelistPalestinian-Musakhan-tabook-bread-tabun-chicken-airfried-whatsonthelistSawsan’s recipe was “mouth-watering tasty” and “absolutely delicious,” and you can quote me on that!

Hands up, who would like to try this Palestinian Musakhan now?

Have you ever experienced Palestinian cuisine?

Have you learned something new through this blog post today?

Of the three recipes, which one would you have chosen?

Please feel free to hop over to see what other members from the Middle Eastern and North African Cooking Club made this month too!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to FOLLOW via Twitter, LIKE via Facebook, SHARED via Google+ and LOVED being PINNED…on Pinterest!

All comments, shares and pins MAKE MY DAY!

131 thoughts on “How Did This Popular Palestinian Musakhan Unite Us Today

  1. Oum Adam says:

    This dish looks absolutely amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

  2. Britni says:

    This looks like a great meal. All of your recipes are fun for me because they make me stray from my usuals and get a little out of my comfort zone. This is a beautiful dish. I can’t wait to try it!

  3. chbernard says:

    This looks so yummy! I have never heard of or tried taboon bread so this is something new to me! I also appreciate the geography/history part to go along with it as I am horrible with both subjects!

  4. I don’t know anything about Palastinian food either but I do know I’d love this! That plethora of onions looks wonderful

  5. It’s such an interesting history to the conflict and so political too as to whom to side with. I wonder if it will ever be resolved?

  6. Winnie says:

    Your musakha bread looks fantastic!! It’s very popular here 🙂
    (I eat the veggie version)

  7. XmasDolly says:

    Yes, this is definitely a new recipe for me, but I’ve been on a bland diet lately do to acid reflex disease and I don’t think my stomach would be to happy with this one, but I’m sure others will love it. It does look tasty!

  8. The seasonings in this dish sound absolutely delicious! I love trying foods from the Middle East and from all over the world so I’m sure I would love this!

  9. Rose says:

    I like to experience cuisines from other countries too. It is interesting to sample the culture from a plate. 🙂

  10. Sneha datar says:

    This is so tempting, nice you served it with bread. Delicious…

  11. This food looks so delicious. I have never tried Palestinian cuisine before. Now i am excited to try a few recipes and surprise my family.

  12. Dina says:

    that dinner looks so yummy. I’m not sure I’ve ever had palestinean food. It looks like I need to try it!

  13. Omg this looks so yummy!!! I know it’s silly, but breads are some of my favorite foods!

  14. You always have the most interesting dishes! I’ve never heard of half of them but I always want to try them!

  15. This is very interesting. I have never had Palestinian food. That bread looks so tasty. I am not good at making bread, but I would love to try this.

  16. Sandy KS says:

    I love trying new recipes out. As for making something when I can’t pronounce it or even know what some of the ingredients are, I’ll leave that up to the Chef’s.

  17. I never had Palestnian food. I hope to be able to travel to the Midde East sometime soon and have a taste of ,

  18. Hi Joanne Thank you for the recipe and the geography/history lesson. I have never been to Israel not sampled any Palestinian food. You sparked my interest so I will be looking for restaurants that serve this.

  19. Nickida says:

    Wow a delicious recipe and a history lesson all rolled in one. I love trying new dishes and when my husband and I were only daiting I used to make them all the time. Now with the kids I don’t try new stuff as often. Your blog always inspires me to try something new. Without onions of course since I’m allergic.

  20. ARod says:

    Wow you are very adventurous with food. It looks like it turned out very tasty. I hope you enjoyed it.

  21. michele d says:

    What an awesome dish this is. I’ve never heard about it until now but it looks so good. Thanks for the recipe.

  22. Colette S says:

    Oh I would love to taste this.
    What an unforgetful food journey to do recipes like these!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe also.

  23. This makes me hungry. Urrggghh. Hehe. But I really love your posts. Tickles my appetite and fills me with information

  24. This looks so yummy! I never really explore with recipes but so want to. I’m even working on a weekly meal schedule.

  25. I love using sumac and I absolutely love caramelized onions! I don’t eat meat so I would make this without the chicken…it does look delicious though!

  26. Jacob Fu says:

    Ohh – I’ve never had that before! Looks really tasty! I’m going to have to see if anywhere local serves this so I can taste how it’s supposed to be before I try making it.

  27. Oooooo this looks pretty exotic yet tasty!!! I really need to give this dish a try sometime!!!! Sounds pretty tasty!

  28. Looks really good! I’m not a fan of onions but I love the combination of flavors in this recipe.

  29. klg1982 says:

    My brother lives in Albany Park ( in Chicago). This reminds me of a dish I would get at one of the Middle Eastern restaurants in his neighborhood. YUm. now I am hungry.

  30. That bread looks so savory. I have never had Palestinian food, but I would love to try it after seeing this. I hope I can find the sumac here. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  31. Alli says:

    I’ve been to Israel and enjoyed many of their delicious foods, but I’ve never had Palestinian food. I’ll have to try this bread recipe. Looks divine!

  32. That looks so tasty and exotic! I’m going to have to try this really soon.

  33. NPC says:

    Wow, what an interesting dish. I love the colors though!

  34. This dish looks very interesting and indeed very colorful! I’m not sure if I’ve had a Palestinian dish before so I’ll consider this as my first. Sounds and looks very good, I have to try this!

  35. chanelle says:

    Thanks for the history lesson, I didn’t realize the history of Israel and Palestine; it explains all the conflict and current affairs as a result of this division. I’m a little embarrassed to admit, actually, that with it being covered on the news so frequently, that I didn’t know the reason. History lesson aside, I love middle eastern food and this recipe looks like one I’d certainly love to try.

  36. Liz Mays says:

    I’d love to try making this Palestinian dish! As far as I know, it will be the first Palestinian meal I’ve tried.

  37. This looks delicious. I don’t venture outside the foods I am familiar with, but I should!! Those look delicious!!

  38. Joanne – I love these continuing gourmet Middle Eastern adventures. So many dishes that I have never heard of and the flavours! Middle Eastern is a firm fave so I’m really enjoying these stories and recipes.

  39. That Musakhan looks delicious! I’ve ever tried it before but I’ve never tried a dish with chicken I haven’t liked <3

  40. The Shurba Pureed vegetable soup looks heart warming. I will check the recipe, thank you!

  41. Melissa says:

    This is so interesting! I love hearing about the different cultures around the world and especially learning about my favorite, food! This is a great way to switch up the usual recipes that we make week after week and will help us appreciate new flavors and dishes. Thanks for shring, I look forward to trying this!

  42. sacki20 says:

    I always like trying new food from around the world and i amend you. Sometimes it can be hard to find certain ingredients for special dishes. I think this would be a nice change from the usual dishes i make at home

  43. Jeanette says:

    Interesting to know their lunch time is their time to spend together! That would never happen here! I have heard that middle eastern food is some of the most flavorful around. This looks awesome.

  44. I have just had my dinner but after reading the post and constantly staring at your food picture I am hungry again and soon will be hunting for something similar to eat lol

  45. rika says:

    Looks so yummy! I saw this photo yesterday, maybe from your Twitter or Pinterest. You took awesome pictures. What kind of lens did you use? Thanks Joanne!

  46. The pictures are so pretty and what an interesting looking dish!

  47. It’s a beautiful dish! I can see myself eating the whole thing on my own, ha ha! It looks delicous.

  48. This is fun! I need to be more geographically gifted! I love trying new foods and learning about different cultures, but it seems like time gets in the way and I don’t read up on as much as I should!

  49. I love how the onions turned that amazing purple color. It looks really delicious. And I love the info on Palestine. It is important to know why there is so much unrest in that area.

  50. That looks delicious! I haven’t seen too many Palestinian dishes in my life. I had a friend who’s mom used to make these amazing cookies right after Ramadan. They were fantastic.

  51. sign4baby says:

    I have to be honest I have never had a Palestinian dish and after reading this recipe I really want to try it – so many great flavors coming together.

  52. Nancy says:

    This is really interesting to me because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Palestinian dish before. Believe it or not, I’m the “best customer” that my local pizza place has (they’ve told me… I don’t know whether or not to be embarrassed about that) and the two brother’s that own it are Palestinian. I can only assume they know about this dish. Speaking of which… I’m going there today (I go once a week for pizza lol) and going to open up your blog post and see if they have it on the regular.

  53. Valerie@Occasionally Crafty says:

    That looks delicious! I have to admit I’m not a very adventurous eater, but this looks divine- esp that handmade bread.

  54. This looks delicious! I’ve never had Palestinian cuisine, but I’m a huge fan of trying something new. I’ll have to hop on Google to see if there are any Palestinian restaurants nearby. Thanks for sharing!

  55. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    I don’t eat a lot of middle eastern food and honestly, there aren’t a lot of restaurants that sell it here, so I think I need to start making more of it myself.

  56. Jaime N. says:

    This looks so delicious! I love how crisp the bread looks. I love trying new foods and flavors that I’m not accustomed to – very cool challenges!

  57. The dish is a lovely colour and definitely has some wonderful flavours. I have never been to Palestine so haven’t tried any of its cuisine. I’m sure its dishes would be as tasty as other Middle Eastern fare xx

  58. Meagan says:

    This looks wonderful! I’m way excited to try it out. I love that it comes from some pretty neat places around the world.

  59. Nicky says:

    I have never had Palestinian food, but have used Sumac with other chicken dishes. I love this aromatic seasoning. Thank you for the geography and history lesson. I didn’t realize that Palestine was created in the last few decades. Thank you for sharing this tasty dish.

  60. Thanks for giving us a history lesson as well as a delicious recipe Joanne. Thanks also for linking up with us at #AnythingGoes

  61. lydiaf1963 says:

    Love the sound of this and the use of cardamom.

  62. This looks so delicious! Where do you get your sumac at? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that at a store before.

  63. Would be difficult to choose just one.

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About me

Joanne T. Ferguson

Passionate Home Cook who tries to inspire one recipe and one event at time!


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