Recipe for Msakhan

An all-time Palestinian classic, Msakhan (pronounced mmmmmm-sa-khan). So yummy in fact, its name even starts with an ‘Mmmmmm’! Msakhan might as well be known as the national dish of Palestine and has its roots among the ‘falaheen’, the peasants who would typically prepare the dish to honour the olive oil harvest as the liquid gold we all know it to be. Its simplicity is incredibly poetic and the better the quality the ingredients, the higher the likelihood your taste buds will be rocketed to another dimension. And this is how this little culinary love story goes: ‘Tabboun’ bread acts as the base to the dish. An amazing type of bread cooked in a hot stone oven that comes out with a bubbly outer texture as imprinted on by the stones it is cooked on – a marvel to eat and even more so watch made fresh! Succulent chicken pieces are strewn on top of this bread base, then dressed with roasted pine nuts and caramelised onions with a deep purple hue that can come from nothing other than Sumac. [Sumac is a herb that is often used in Arabic cooking and gives a real tang to whatever it is added to. It is made by grinding the fruits of the Rhus flowering bush plant and has a multitude of uses in the kitchen!]. This combination is then left to roast in the oven and until the flavours are deep-seated, the bread crisps up and it all glistens with a certain shade of golden brown. Okay, I can’t write about this topic anymore. It’s dinner time and I am seriously drooling over my keyboard as I type this… Just get out there and find yourself some Msakhan! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

by Mayya Papaya

More about Mayya and foodism on her page

P.S. a nice vegan-vegetarian friendly version is my tried and tested recipe using cauliflower instead of chicken!


Recipe for 6 servings


  • 6 chicken pieces (with bone)
  • 1 kg onions
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon sumac
  • 6 loaves of Tabboun bread (or pizza bread-20 cm diameter)



  • Chop the onions and put them in a pot with the olive oil
  • Cook the onions over medium heat stirring occasionally
  • Add the sumac once the onions are cooked
  • Season the chicken with sumac, salt, pepper and leave it to catch the flavours for 30 minutes
  • Cook the chicken in a big pot on medium heat for 5 minutes, adding 2 cups of water
  • Dip the bread in the chicken broth
  • On each loaf, put 2 big tablespoons of onions and the chicken piece
  • Put the loaves in the oven for 10 minutes


Extract from Banquet Palestinien, Alliance Française de Bethléem, 2013