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Mussakhan- Sumac chicken on bread with caramalized onions

Fatima Sadal - Chef on Rhine
Mussakhan is a traditional Palestinian dish featuring cooked & roasted chicken with caramalized onions sprinkled generously with sumac, that are laid out on pieces of taboon bread drenched with the flavorsome chicken stock. An excellent sharing meal!
5 from 5 votes
Servings 6


For the onions

  • 4 medium red onions chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 2 tsp vegetable oil for the onions
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds extra

For the chicken

  • 8 pieces chicken thighs and legs
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder freshly ground
  • 3/4 tsp salt see note
  • 1/4 tsp cloves powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp 7 spice Baharat
  • 1/2 tsp curcuma
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp oil for chicken

For assembling

  • 1/4 cup Sumac
  • 4 thin flatbread preferably taboon/laffa
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds or pine nuts fried in 2 tsp oil
  • 2 Tbsp parsley optional


Marinate chicken:

  • Mix together all the spices listed under "for the chicken".
  • Make slits in the meat and marinate with garlic, lemon juice and 2/3 of the spice blend. Put aside for 15 min.

Prepare the onions:

  • Take ¼ cup olive oil + 2 Tbsp vegetable oil in a pan and fry chopped onions on medium heat with ½ tsp cumin until translucent .This all can take up to 20 min. Add rest of the spices, 3 Tbsp sumac and mix well. Set aside.

Cook the chicken:

  • In a big cooking pot, take oil and fry one chopped onion in it. Add cumin seeds as well as the marinated chicken. Mix well. Add one cup of water and cook until meat is tender. Adjust the seasoning.

Grill the chicken:

  • Take out the chicken pieces in a baking tray and grill in oven for 10 min until golden.

Toast the almonds:

  • Fry the almonds in oil until golden brown. Set aside


  • Cut each bread in 4 or 6 slices. Line a big serving platter with some bread slices.
  • Pour some chicken juice (left from cooking) on it.
  • Spread with caramalized onions and sprinkle generously with sumac.
  • Again place a layer of bread slices. Pour the juice and distribute onions.
  • Carefully set the grilled chicken pieces on top and sprinkle generously with sumac.
  • Decorate with almonds and parsley.


  • Mussakhan is a family meal. Best enjoyed when eaten with hands!
  • I prefer using skinned chicken as the recipe already uses enough fats.
  • The selection of bread is very important. The commonly used flatbread for Mussakhan is called Taboon, named after the clay oven used to bake this in. You can substitute with any bread of the same thickness. I wouldnt recommend using pitas as they become too heavy and filling after being soaked in the chicken stock.
  • Almonds can be replaced with pine nuts.
  • Adjust the quantity of salt in chicken according to how salty the bread is. 
  • Prepare chicken, almonds and caramelized onions ahead of time but assemble shortly before serving.
  • The basic recipe for 7 spices I use is: 1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper + 1 tablespoon paprika + 1 tablespoon ground cumin + 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon + 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg + 1 teaspoon ground coriander +1 teaspoon ground cloves +1 teaspoon ground cardamom = Mix together and store in a spice jar.