To start off the new year, I chose two dishes to make this weekend that couldn’t be more opposite, and it may come as no surprise because they are from opposite sides of the world. One thing I thought I did really well with this cooking challenge in 2021 was varying the parts of the world that I cooked from in any given month. I tried to group where made sense when I had a surplus of certain types of ingredients, but for the most part, I hopped around. For 2022, I want to try to make a concerted effort to vary the main element, often the source protein, of the dishes so that I don’t find myself eating chicken+ rice variations or heavy meat stews for weeks on end. This can be surprisingly difficult when researching recipes, especially in certain parts of the world where red meat is the staple…or a meal is not complete without rice. But I digress…
First up for the new year is the country of Palestine, where I chose to make something called Musakhan. This chicken dish is incredibly simple but is made special by the use of a large amount of sumac. I’d seen sumac in recipes previously and I know it is one of the ingredients in the Za’tar spice blend I discovered last year, but on its own it is best described as a little sweet and sour and reminiscent of lemon juice but in a powder form. While some may be familiar with the poisonous plant sumac, this is related but its red berries (as opposed to the white of the poisonous cousin) is safe to eat. (Matt will probably freak out when he realizes this fact-I did not try to poison him!!!). In addition to sumac, it boasts a very slow cooked batch of onions that cook down slowly to form a beautiful base to cook the chicken on. The recipe called for chicken legs, but I opted for bone-in chicken breast. Served with pine nuts and naan, this was a easy, light way to kick off the New Year of cooking!
Here’s the recipe I used: http://globaltableadventure.com/recipe/musakhan/
Overall Level of Effort: 2 (namely because its takes a while to cook those onions down)
Skill Level: Beginner
Would Make It Again? Yes
Additional Notes: One of the best takeaways I get from this project is learning how to use a spice I hadn’t heard of before. I’m fortunate that I can often find these in the number of grocery stores where I live but sumac was kind of elusive. I found it (and other things like black limes, black garlic and a great paprika) on this site: https://www.worldspice.com/. So there’s a plug for a great online source for spices.