EASY DOES IT: Musakhan Rolls
Yousef Tuqan said something at the Bloggers’ Masterclass hosted by BBC Good Food ME that has stayed with me. He said that we all have in-house cooks growing up who pander to our every request. I remember thinking, wow, does everyone here have house-help? And then he said – we call her ‘Mom’. And I thought to myself – how true that is. We take home cooking for granted until we have to fend for ourselves and then we yearn from it when we are away and devour it when we go home. Unless of course we learn to cook, homestyle recipes from the MasterChef herself – Mom.
Yousef Tuqan of middleeats.tv (the winner), Farah Sawaf of cooking with a manicure and Ritu Chaturvedi of fuss-free cooking blog are three top social media foodie stars who cooked a three-course meal exclusively for BBC Good Food ME’s Food Club members. The winning dish adjourned by the invitees would be served in Shayan restaurant at the Al Ghurair Rayhaan Dubai by Rotana during Ramadan.
And as Yousef, whose dish won the honour of being on the Ramadan menu said, if he can cook, anyone can. So here is the simple recipe of his winning starter, a Palestinian dish called Musakhan Rolls.
Just a little culinary note on what Musakhan is. It is quintessentially a Palestinian dish which comprises of roast chicken baked with onions, sumac, allspice, saffron and pine nuts and is normally served piled high on a bed of thick Taboon bread. If served traditionally, it is a dish that can get quite messy as you need to pull off some chicken, mix it with some of the onions and a bit of yoghurt, and then roll it up in a piece of bread. The thick and heavy Taboon bread does not make for easy eating and it ends up becoming a heavy meal.
Yousef Tuqan’s Musakhan Rolls Recipe
- 1 whole chicken (1.5 kilos)
- 6 onions, chopped into medium-sized cubes
- Olive oil (amount depends on the size of your pan. Enough to coat a 1cm layer)
- Juice of ½ a squeezed lemon
- 3 tablespoon Sumac
- 1-2 tablespoon Salt
- 1½ tablesoon Arabic allspice Cumin
- Markook bread, sliced into quarters of 12-15cm
- Pine nuts
Step 1: Boil the chicken. Once done, leave it to cool. Discard the bones and skin, and flake the chicken meat
Step 2: Add enough olive oil into a pan. It should layer approximately 1cm at the bottom of the pan.
Step 3: Drop in the pine nuts, and fry them until golden. Then remove them from the oil and set aside.
Step 5: Cover the cooked onions with the salt, all spice, cumin and sumac, and mix the ingredients.
Step 6: Add the flaked chicken, and mix it in. Mix them over low heat for two minutes, and turn off the heat
Step 7: Add the juice from ½ a squeezed lemon
Step 8: Taste the mix, and add more salt or sumac if needed. The mixture should have a nice red color.
NOTE: There were two changes that Yousef made to the recipe that helped make the final dish easier to eat and lighter on the tummy making it an ideal starter. First up, rather than using the heavy Taboon bread, Yousef used Markook which is thinned and lighter. Second, rather than serve the Musakhan as disparate parts, he flaked the chicken in advance, and rolled it up in the bread. This means you can prepare the dish in advance, heat it in the oven just before serving.
P.S. Some of the images of the event I have used have been taken from the BBC Good Food ME website. With a crowd like there was, there was no way I could have got upfront to take the ‘making of’ shots.