Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Musakhan - مسخّن‎

I'm always looking for inspiration to create new dishes.  Even a personal chef can get into a rut at home- quick, healthy and easy is a priority.  Earlier this month, I attended a dinner party hosted by friend for her Syrian in laws.  This invitation thrilled me since I have not tried many Syrian dishes.  I assisted with a few last minute dishes that have inspired an entire menu.   One dish in particular intrigued me - Musakhan.  My friend described it as a Middle Eastern flavored chicken fajita; Wow, I'm in love already!   Musakhan is a dish that one typically eats with one's hands.  Literally translated it means "something that has been heated or warmed".  It can be served as an appetizer, snack or meal.

I searched for a little history on this particular dish and I found that there are MANY variations to this recipe.   After looking here, here, and here I found the basic ingredients: chicken, sauteed onions, pita/lavash and sumac.  The evolution of classic dish: a traditionally slow cooked dish is transformed into it's modern version for the every day cook.  Slightly different, but still maintaining the integrity of the original.

This is a great way to use left over rotisserie chicken, or Thanksgiving turkey.  As it happens, I roasted Turkey breast  from dinner this weekend.  Along with the chicken I have  the onions, garlic, lemons and herbs that were part of the roasted Turkey.  I picked and then shredded the turkey meat.  The bones were then boiled down with remainder of the drippings and roasted veggies to create my own stock.   Now I have stock for the rest of the week and shredded turkey for Musakhan and chicken salad.


Makes 6-8 medium sized wraps


2 large chicken breast, bone in, shredded
2 large onions, sliced
3 heaping tablespoons sumac
2 tablespoons baharat, or arabic spice/seven spice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
3 cups chicken stock - purchased or home made
3 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 whole wheat or white tortillas (traditionally Arabic kuhbuz or pita bread is used)


Heat a medium saute pan on medium high heat.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add onions and saute for 5 minutes.  

Add 2 1/2 cups of broth, 2 tablespoons sumac, bahart, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper.  Lower to medium heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Meanwhile, shred the chicken into small pieces.

Remove onion from the pan and set aside. 

To the remaining sauce from the onion mixture, add the remaining 1/2 cup of stock, mix in the shredded chicken, the remainding oil and sumac.  Cook for a few minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

Shredded Chicken
Once the chicken and sauce are incorporated the dish will take on a pinkish hue from the sumac.

Allow both the chicken and onions to cool off - about 5-10 minutes.

Time to assemble.  Spray baking dish with cooking spray.  
On a tortilla, place the onion mixture, then top with shredded chicken and toasted pine nuts.  

Roll up and add to your baking dish. Continue until you've filled your entire baking dish.  

Spray with  cooking spray or olive oil spray and bake on 350 for 5-10 minutes or until the wraps are golden brown.  

For my family, I filled the entire baking dish and then we heated individual wraps as needed.  This could be a great snack or lunch option for families with different schedules.

Serve with Hummus, turnip pickles or tabbouleh salad.

Note: To serve these as side dish use smaller tortillas.  For an appetizer: use phyllo dough to wrap the chicken mixture.

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