Last night I had my iftar, even though Hurricane Irene was coming through.  We had a lot of wind.  The lights flickered a couple of times as I was preparing but thankfully I did not lose electricity.  Whew, what would I have fed all my hungry friends?

Palestinian moussaka

My friends that were coming over were a mix of Palestinians and Egyptians.  It is always difficult to cook for people from the same ethnicity because they had these meals before.  And of course there would be comparisons on how their mother, sister, aunt, etc. cooks the same item.  But with my mom’s help, who has never made a bad meal, I knew it would be a success!

Menu for 12

  • Shorbat freekeh (green wheat soup with chicken)
  • Garden Salad
  • Borek (Turkish savory pastry filled with cheese and parsley)
  • Moussaka (Palestinian dish with baked eggplant, ground beef, tomoatoes)
  • Rice
  • Musakhan (Palestinian dish with baked chicken, onions, sumac, and served on pita)
  • Lots and lots of desserts (brought by my guests)
For some of my guests they had never had sorbat freekeh.  In Egypt, they use freekeh, but more like how you would eat rice.  And musakhan was a totally new dish that many had never seen or tasted.  Musakhan is dish that is truly unique to Palestinians.
Musakhan is basically baked chicken that melts in your mouth, with a lemony flavor from the sumac and a sweetness from the caramelized onions.
Here is my recipe (or I should say my mom’s recipe) for musakhan.  It does take some multitasking to do this recipe.  And it is for the seasoned cook because you will have to know how things should look when cooking.
Ingredients (serves 12)
  • 6 medium yellow onions
  • sumac
  • 12 pitas (you can also use lavish)
  • 6 cornish hens
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (this is my go to spice for chicken)
  • pine nuts (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Take cornish hens and split down the middle to have 2 halves.  Wash the chicken and pat dry.  Season with salt, pepper and Trader Joe’s 22 Seasoning Salute.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on a roasting pan and use your hands to get olive oil all over the pan.  Place chicken on top.  Add more TJ21 and drizzle more olive oil.
  4. Put in oven and cook for about  one hour (some ovens may take more or less time)
  5. In a sauce pan add olive oil, about 1/3 cup and cook on a medium heat (you can add more or less).  I do not like my meals to be too oily.
  6. Cut onions thinly, and as you cut the onions add to the sauce pan, stirring occassionally.  Let the onions cook thoroughly, until translucent.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Once the onions are completely cooked, coat the onions with sumac and mix well.
  8. In a small frying pan, drizzle with olive oil and fry the pine nuts.
  9. On a large baking dish, drizzle with olive oil.  Place pita bread on the baking dish, spoon the onions with sumac,  add the pine nuts,  place one of the halved chickens on top, and sprinkle some more sumac.  Place back in the oven for 10 minutes.
Once the chicken is baked, it will have this beautiful golden color on top
Cooked onions with sumac
Fried pine nuts, with onions and sumac layered on pita
Ready to be plated.  This is best when eaten with your hands!
xoxo,
Tina

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