When we moved to the UK in the late 1990s, finding our ‘own food’ was so hard. You couldn’t find staples like halloumi, hummus, zataar, sumac, fresh herbs, vine leaves etc, certainly not in central Hertfordshire where we were living. We used to stockpile when we were back in the middle east, go without or make/grow our own. These days it’s much easier to find what we need and like in the regular supermarkets, however we still have to make and grow some things that we need.
My brother brought me a wonderful book called ‘Arab Cooking on a Saskatchewan Homestead’ when I first started courting my husband as he is Canadian and it seemed like our two cultures intertwining. In this book there is an amazing chapter on substitutions they had to make and all the things they had to grow to get those tastes of home during the cold winters on the prairies.
While it’s not that bad now, you’ll notice that much of my herbs and veg are grown or specifically sourced by us or that we have ‘mid-week’ options which are easier and have simple, everyday substitutions.
This is one of those dishes. Musakhan is the Palestinian national dish and it is delicious. With its purple sumac onions, cushion of taboon bread and glistening toasted almonds this dish looks like a crown and is so special. And when we make this on the weekend, we give it all that respect that it deserves. However, we like it so much that we also want it during the week, after a day at work. This version of Musakhan quick, easy and delicious and it’s good way to give it a first try.
4 chicken thighs
Extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sumac
3 large white onions, thinly sliced
3 heaped tablespoons sumac
1 pinch teaspoon allspice
1 pinch mixed spice
1 pinch paprika
Salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
8 mini tortilla breads
- preheat the oven to 190c
- mix all the spices and oil together in an oven-proof dish
- rub the mix into the chicken thighs and put into the preheated oven for 40 minutes
- put all the oil, spices, and onions onto a medium heat
- gently cook the onions for 30 minutes until they are very soft and cooked through (not browned)
- put the tortillas into the oven for a few minutes, then put onto plates
- spread onions over the tortillas
- then add one chicken thigh onto each plate of bread and onions
- serve with yoghurt and salad