I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land this past Christmas season. Being able to physically touch so many sacred sights was unbelievable, as was the hospitality we were constantly shown. The food was spectacular, including this traditional Palestinian dish we were served during lunch one day. Onions are the star of this recipe—there are a lot of them! Both onions and the Middle Eastern spice, sumac, are loaded with antioxidants and other health benefits.
Musakhan (Palestinian sumac infused chicken and caramelized onions on flatbread)
- 1/3 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 tbls ground cinnamon
- 1.5 tbls allspice
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 4 pieces of traditional pita, taboon or naan bread
- 3-4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced or chopped
- 1/2 cup (plus more for drizzling) extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- 1.5 tbls + 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tbsl cumin
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Mix all spices listed under “spice mix” together in a small bowl. You will have a surplus, which can be kept in a tightly sealed container for future use.
Heat oven to 425˚. Place chicken thighs, skin side up, on a baking sheet. Mix 1 tsp of sumac into 1 tsp of the spice mix and rub onto chicken. Season chicken with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 35-40 minutes, until thighs are cooked through.
Meanwhile, in a large, high-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the 1/2 cup of olive oil, onions, 1.5 tbsl sumac, 1.5 tsp spice mix, and season with salt. Stir onions occasionally, lowering the temp if starting to brown. You can add small amounts of water as needed to keep the onions soft. Cook until soft and translucent, about 30-45 minutes. (The onions can be done a day ahead of time and kept in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator).
Place pita (or whatever flatbread you are using) on a baking sheet. Drizzle tops of pita with olive oil and use your fingers to cover surface with oil (especially the edges). Equally divide the onions on top of each pita and sprinkle with pine nuts. Place under broiler for 2-4 minutes. Watch closely—edges of pita will start to brown and become slightly crisp. Top with chicken thighs. Serve with roasted potatoes and a Mediterranean or citrus salad.