This Palestinian dish is so flavorful. The word Msakhan means “heated” in Arabic and this dish gets its name from the fact that you make its various components then assemble them and heat it all up together. Msakhan, Palestinian sumac chicken and onions, is the perfect make ahead meal!

Msakhan (Palestinian sumac chicken and onions)

Msakhan (Palestinian sumac chicken and onions)

Chicken served with sweet onions, tart and tangy sumac, and copious amounts of olive oil, served over warm flatbread, topped with nuts and parsley and eaten with yogurt.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern


  • 3 large onions 2 sliced, 1 quartered
  • olive oil
  • sumac to taste, have a half cup on hand
  • salt preferably kosher
  • 1 whole chicken cut into parts or you can use any particular part you like
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp allspice berries
  • 1 carrot
  • thick flatbread
  • handful chopped nuts
  • handful parsley chopped to garnish
  • plain yogurt whole milk, for serving


For the Onions

  • Chop or slice 2 onions, Don't cut them too small or thin. I used a mandoline on the thickest setting.
  • Put onions in a small pot and cover with good quality olive oil and add a good pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until nice and soft, maybe 10 minutes. You're not caramelizing them, just softening.
  • Once they are soft add a few tablespoons of sumac. Start with 2 tablespoons and increase from there as desired to give the onions an assertive tangy flavor and deep color.

For the Chicken

  • Put chicken in a pot and add the quartered onion, a couple tablespoons of sumac, some carrot, bay leaf, and whole allspice berries, coriander seeds and green cardamom pods and a big shake of kosher salt. Add enough water to cover, bring to a boil then turn down to simmer and cook until JUST cooked through, maybe 40 minutes.
  • Once chicken is done, add ¼ cup or so of the broth to onion mixture. 
    Msakhan (Palestinian sumac chicken and onions) 2


  • Preheat oven to 450F.
  • Remove chicken from the broth, pat dry and sear in a pan over high heat in some olive oil to begin crisping the skin and getting some color.
  • Lay flatbread on an oven safe platter, casserole dish or baking sheet. Brush on some of the olive oil from the onions, and put in the oven for a few minutes to let the bread crisp slightly.
  • Layer on the onions, reserving a few. Dust it all liberally with sumac.
  • Put seared chicken on top and put the reserved onions over the chicken. Give it one last dusting of sumac and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Bake until the skin is crisp and the oils are bubbling in the tray- about 15 minutes. Be careful to not overcook the chicken. 
  • Remove and top with fried nuts and parsley. Serve with plain yogurt. 
  • Dig in, scooping it all up with your bread and enjoy!
Keyword Chicken, Palestinian