The original version of the Palestinian dish musakhan consists of onions and sumac sautéed in olive oil, slathered on amazing taboun bread topped with pine nuts and grilled chicken. As amazing as this sounds, it is usually eaten in the privacy of one’s home, among friends and family, as it tends to get really messy really fast.
Although the original version can’t be replaced, sometimes you want something quick and simple and easy to eat. I can’t imagine taking traditional musakhan to work for lunch; who wants to be elbow deep in olive oil, onions, bread and chicken at work?
I find wrapping the chicken mixture in tortillas convenient, as they are always available and crisp up nicely in the oven. However, some people may prefer to use pitta bread or any other thin bread, and it will work just fine. It is really up to you. I prefer to use chicken breasts because they cook fast and are easy to deal with, but you are free to use chicken thighs. It is also a great way to use up leftover chicken, just toss the chicken into the onion mixture and you are ready to roll.
However you choose to make them, I guarantee they will be great. They are super quick to whip up and so delicious they will definitely be a staple dish added to your repertoire. This dish is perfect as a main or side dish, and dipping them in a cool yogurt and cucumber salad makes for the perfect summer meal.
- 600g chicken breasts
- 4-5 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 large white onions
- 2 tsp. mixed spice
- 3 tbsp. sumac
- Salt and pepper
- Roasted pine nuts (to taste)
- Roasted almonds (to taste)
- Olive oil
- 8 medium tortillas
1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. While the oil heats up, cut the chicken breasts into strips and sauté in the olive oil.
2. Slice the onions into half circles. Don’t cut them too thin or they will burn. We don’t want any colour on the onions, so sprinkle a pinch of salt on them to keep from caramelising and add a little bit more olive oil to keep the mixture from drying out. Cover and stir frequently.
3. Once the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked, about 10-15 minutes, add the mixed spice and sumac, as well as some olive oil if you feel like the mixture is dry.
4. Mix well and turn off the heat. Mix in the roasted pine nuts and almonds if you choose to use them.
5. Let the filling cool a little as it makes it easier to roll the tortillas. If you want to make this dish in advance, you could just refrigerate the filling for a few days and then roll the tortillas and bake when you want to eat them.
6. Brush the inside of each tortilla with olive oil, place about 2 tablespoons of filling down the middle and roll, making sure to close the sides. Line up the rolls in an olive oil greased baking pan.
7. Once all of the tortillas are rolled, brush them generously with olive oil and pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes at 180C or until they are golden brown and crispy.
8. Serve with cucumber and yogurt salad and enjoy!