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> Palestinian food proverbs"Arabic"
> Lentil “Nails of Knees”
> Yogurt “Cream of life”
> Lamb cooking
> English Culinary Words Derived From Arabic
> الطابون- Oven in the ground, Taboon
> كوسا محشي باللبن - Stuffed Zucchinis...
> Chicken With Vegetables-
> Saj Bread- خبز الصاج
> Macaroni and Béchamel Sauce - معكرونه...
> Musakkaa- مسقعة الباذنجان
> Musakhkhanوصفة المسخن الفلسطيني
> Okra with tomato sauce- وصفة طبخ الباميه
> Mujaddara- Lentils with Rice - مجدره -مدردره
> ديك رومي محشي بالرزواللحمه...
> Macaroni And Meat - معكرونه باللحمه...
Msakhan is Arabic for reheated, derived from sakhan, the verb to heat. It is the name of a typical recipe of Qalqilia north of the West bank, made with day-old taboon bread moistened with olive oil.
Later flavoured with summaq and sautéed onions, and further on the chicken was added, and the old bread was replaced by fresh one. The recipe became a festive dish traditionally eaten during the olive pressing season.
Eventually pine nuts were sprinkled to add some luxury to the dish to make fit for the rich.
Palestinian families are vital to the survival and development of their kitchen due to the absence of cooking institutes to preserve and document Palestinian cooking. For centuries the art of cooking has been passed on from mother to daughter. That is why families become used to a certain method of cooking and develop their own tastes and techniques over the years. In each city of Palestine there are families that are well known for their fine cooking. Interaction between families takes place through marriage and neighbourship, thus spreading recipes and cooking methods. My family, as many others I am sure, always meets over a feast of Msakhan, no matter where or what the occasion. Being able to make Msakhan wherever one may be has become a way of remaining Palestinian.
In Jordan, Lebanon, the Gulf States, and the Arab world in general, it is not difficult to obtain the basic ingredients needed to make Msakhan. However, the taste established in Palestine was never achieved again since all materials were commercialised. In Europe things are more difficult. One would have to bring one’s own supply of summac (a purple-coloured spice) from home and to find a suitable substitute for the Taboon bread. In London, for instance, that task is not difficult, thanks to the Kurds and Persians for their Tannoor bread.
Msakhan is golden roasted chicken, split in half and placed on Taboon bread soaked in olive oil, spread with an onion sauté, sprinkled with roasted pine nuts and seasoned with summac. Msakhan is not just a tasty dish: it is the atmosphere, the aroma, the taste, and the memory of the olive tree and the Taboon, the garden, the family and above all, home.
The family gathers around a coffeepot under the lemon tree, to discuss the working plan. My mother would allocate duties to the other women in the family, usually her sisters. This event normally takes place on Fridays, when schools are closed and thus the older kids are available to pitch in, as any help is welcome. The adults are divided into three groups before they start working like bees. One group is assigned to making the bread, the second group to preparing the onion sauté and the third to roasting the chickens. The boys have to catch the hens that are roaming in the garden and to tie their wings together to prevent them from flying.
Making Taboon bread involves a lot of work, from heating the oven and sifting the flour to kneading the dough, shaping the loaves and baking them in the special oven. At the same time, the other groups are working parallel. The onions are being peeled, finely chopped and sautéed in a generous amount of olive oil and the hens are being plucked of their feathers, flash roasted and cleaned well. When the aroma of the freshly baked Taboon bread and sautéed onions fills the atmosphere, it is time for breakfast. The older girls come in to prepare chicken livers with some of the onion sauté. When all the preparations are complete, the chickens go to the oven to roast and, just before they are fully cooked, they are brushed with yoghurt to gain that golden colour without being exposed to excessive direct heat in the Taboon oven.
Meanwhile, pine nuts are being dry roasted and summac is being ground. Msakhan is always accompanied by freshly made yoghurt, usually that of goats’ milk. In the olden days, before the advent of refrigerators, the yoghurt pot was covered with a cloth and lifted to ceiling level in the outside area of the house to cool. When all is ready, the freshly baked Taboon bread is spread with the onion sauté, the roasted chicken is placed on it and it is sprinkled with summac and the roasted pine nuts.