We made this recipe as part of a quick dinner the other night, but now we’re planning on trying it as an easy to eat appetizer for upcoming parties. This recipe is simple to prepare and quick, too. The combination of spices may seem unusual, but don’t be afraid to try it. We thought the results were great! The recipe can be found in the Spring 2012 Penzey’s catalog, and is attributed to Shereen Daoud, of Overland Park, Kansas.

Musakhan is a Palestinian dish. The term means “something that is heated.” The recipe referenced here uses sumac, which is a spice berry native to the eastern Mediterranean. Most cookbooks describe sumac as lemony, and that is the usual substitute for sumac, but sumac is fruitier than lemon. We suggest you get some sumac (available as whole berries or ground), and try it for yourself. Sprinkle some ground sumac on vegetable dishes that call for a touch of lemon juice at the end, and compare the results. We also recommend zaatar, a dip made with sumac, olive oil, and garlic.

Finally, this recipe uses pita bread made into pockets as the holder for the spiced chicken and onion mixture, as in the picture below. We are guessing this was done because of the ease of serving and wider availability of pita. Lavash bread would be a more traditional substitute.


2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp butter

4 medium onions, chopped

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tsp ground sumac

1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 to 1 tsp salt

4 whole pita breads, sliced in half to form 8 pockets


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil and butter or medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft but not browned. Add the chicken and sprinkle with the spices, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is tender but juicy. Taste nd adjust seasonings as desired. Fill each pita half with chicken mixture, wrap in aluminum foil, and heat in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve immediately with salad.

Serves 8

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