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One of the fantastic things about editing this column over the years has been seeing the different ways people prepare the same ingredient. We have featured chicken dishes quite a few times because no matter how the spices, herbs, and form may change, it has always proven to be a simple dish to prepare — and when done well, also memorable. Curious about Palestinian food, when I learned about Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen by author, broadcaster, and cook, Yasmin Khan, I ran out instantly and purchased a copy. This photo accompanying her recipe for Mussakhan (roast chicken with sumac and red onions) jumped out at me (unfortunately not literally!), and I knew it was the recipe we would publish this week. I love that it is served on a platter, on top of Arabic taboon bread for all to share, rather than portioned for each individual. —Kristina

Yasmin Khan is a best-selling author, broadcaster and cook who is passionate about sharing people’s stories through food. Yasmin is a regular media commentator having appeared on many flagship news programs such as Channel 4 News, Newsnight, BBC R4’s Today program and Women’s Hour and NPR’s Morning Edition. She has worked as a radio presenter for BBC R4’s Food Programme and as a host on the CNN/Roads and Kingdoms travel series “The Perfect Dish” with Anthony Bourdain. Her writing has been published in the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, the Telegraph, Saveur, Roads and Kingdoms, AFAR and Food52, amongst others. Her debut cookbook was The Saffron Tales: Recipes From the Persian Kitchen. Find Yasmin on Instagram @yasminkhanstories, Twitter @yasmin_khan and Facebook @YasminKhanStories.

For a chance to win a copy of Zaitoun, respond in the comments section below by August 8, 5PM EST to either of the following questions: What has been your most memorable shared meal? or What is your favorite way to prepare chicken?  As always, we need details because we love imagining we were there with you, or are tasting the good food you describe. We will announce the winner in the comments section, so be sure to check back!

Image above: Zaitoun; Photography by Matt Russell

Image above: Yasmin Khan

Image above: Palestinian feast

Image above: Mussakhan (Roast chicken with sumac and red onions)

Mussakhan / Roast Chicken with Sumac and Red Onions

Mussakhan (Roast chicken with sumac and red onions) is a classic Palestinian dish eaten in villages throughout the region. Traditionally the meat is laid out on a giant piece of bread with the flavorsome roasting juices poured over it, so that they seep into the dough. This platter is then placed on the table for everyone to pull off sections of bread and chicken: a wonderful sharing meal. As it can be challenging to find such large pieces of flatbread in most shops, I’ve suggested using individual naan breads instead… but, of course, if you can, seek out traditional sheets of Arabic taboon bread from Middle Eastern stores. If you are avoiding gluten, the chicken is just as delicious on its own, or served with rice or a salad.

Serves 4


  • 2 lb./1kg chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sumac, plus more to dust
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large red onions (about 1 lb./500g), finely sliced into half-moons
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or any neutral oil
  • naan or Arabic taboon bread, to serve
  • chopped parsley leaves



Slash the flesh of each piece of chicken diagonally a few times, around 3/4 inch/2cm apart, and then place the meat in a large bowl or plastic container.

Pour over the extra virgin olive oil, spices, lemon juice, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and rub this into the meat. Add the red onions and toss everything together well. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1–3 hours.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.

Transfer the meat to a baking pan and roast for about 35 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear when pierced at their thickest part. Once the chicken is cooked, cover in foil and leave to rest while you prepare the toppings.

Fry the pine nuts in the cooking oil for a minute or so until they turn golden brown, then tip onto a paper towel to drain.

To serve, toast the naan or taboon bread and then place the chicken and red onion on top. Finish with a smattering of pine nuts, sumac and chopped parsley. Drizzle over any remaining roasting juices so they soak into the bread, then sprinkle over a little more extra virgin olive oil.

Recipes and photographs from Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan. Copyright © 2018 by Yasmin Khan. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Matt Russell. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

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