If there is a dish that not only delivers great taste but can also have you experience Palestinian culture Msakhan would be it. Its a dish that requires plenty of sautéed onions slowly cooked with exceptional quality olive oil (Palestinian olive oil) and spiced with sumac, layered with chicken that has been boiled and sautéed in this very mix and served on flat bread (taboon). I would not be surprised if it is considered the national dish of Palestine. However one should not be intimidated making this dish because it is really simple to make and the ingredients are not hard to find.
M'sakhan (4 servings)
1 whole chicken cut into pieces about 4
1/2 Cup while vinegar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon powder
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Colvalita olive oil)
6 large red onions or yellow onions chopped fine
A dash of cumin
1/3 Cup toasted pine nuts
2 Tablespoons good quality Sumac (found in any middle eastern stores and at Williams Sonoma)
Salt and black Pepper to taste
10 Cardamom pods
2 Bay leaves
1 tsp whole cloves
Soak chicken pieces in cold water in a large bowl, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar and let sit for 15 minutes.
Drain chicken and wash it under running water, add the cinnamon powder to chicken pieces and rub each piece with cinnamon powder thoroughly then rinse again with cold water. Dry it and place it in a large bowl and add juice of 1 lemon and 1/4 cup olive oil and let sit for 15 minutes.
In a large pot, add 1/2 cup of the chopped onions with 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat till translucent. Add the chicken pieces and sear chicken for 4 minutes on each side. Add water till it is 1 inch over chicken. Add bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Once boiling lower heat to low and scoop off any white foam that forms on top. Let chicken simmer for 50 minutes. Take chicken pieces out of the stock and set aside.
In a another large pot. Place 1 cup olive oil on medium heat, add the remaining chopped onions and a dash of cumin. Cook stirring frequently for 20-25 minutes, make sure onions don't brown. Off heat, add the sumac and mix well.
Place the chicken pieces in the onion pot and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat so that the chicken can pick up the flavor of the sumac and onions.
Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet and broil for few minutes till chicken gets a nice color.
Dip a flat bread in the chicken broth for 1 second and immediately place it on an oven proof tray, spread few tablespoons of the onion sumac mixture, place under broiler for 2 minutes or till bread forms a bronze color around the edges. Remove from the oven and add a piece of chicken to the flat bread and drizzle with pine nuts.
Repeat the process with a flat bread for each chicken piece and serve, enjoy!