Traditional Palestinian recipes are more like chats, narratives, stories...

Yes how each Palestinian cook learns cooking is by orally transmitted recipes that are almost always told like stories with details that reflect the culture. Instead of measurements and specific instructions, you will get: “chop onions until your eyes dry” and instead of “1 cup pine nuts” you will get “put enough pine nuts to show generosity; the last thing you need is our neighbour Im Flan‘s* tight reputation” and so on (see first image below, for a sample recipe)…

As such Palestinian cooks, never received specific fail proof recipes, in fact the dish ends up being made to the cook’s best understanding of that chat! And so most Palestinian cooks learn cooking, through trial and error and whatever they can gather from the cultural connotations and their own take on how it should be. This is a fact that allowed Palestinian cuisine to ave so many variations to each recipe, which ultimately created a plethora of varieties and a very rich and beautiful cuisine.

The recipe below and the video are my translation of Um Dana Salbak’s traditional recipe received in image 1 below.

*Flan فلان is an Arabic word meaning a random person, often used when you want to be ambiguous to the actual person you are referring to. So IM FLAN, above means mother of x,y or z..

 

My friends at Frying Pan Adventures have launched a series of posts on instagram: The #FreePalestine Culinary Anthology where they will be sharing traditional Palestinian cuisine recipes from Palestinian homes where the recipes are passed through the generations. Arva Ahmed, shared with me the recipe for Djaj Mhammar by Um Dana Salbak, as she needed a picture for her post. Looking at the recipe, what I found most beautiful is that the recipe she received resembles how all of us Palestinian cooks learn cooking! 😂 we all receive such recipes that never mention amounts, measurements, or proper instructions, all the recipes we receive from our mothers are more like narratives, afternoon stories 😂 and every cook has to learn through trial and error until they get the recipe right 🤓 this is also one of the main reasons why in Palestinian cuisine we have so many variations to the same dish/recipe, every cook and their understanding! I made this small video about this and showing you how to cook and plate Palestinian Muhammar. Do try it, it is juicy, and really tasty. Enjoy 🍉🇵🇸

Ingredients

Serves: 4 Cook Time: 1 hr

1 whole chicken, cut into 4 pieces on the bone with skin in tact

1 large brown onion, sliced

2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup DS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tbsp DS Himalayan Pink Salt (or to taste)

2 tbsp DS Sweet Aleppo Peppers

1 tbsp Ground Cinnamon

5 turns of the mill black pepper

1 tbsp chopped parsley or coriander for garnish

3 tbsp cup DS Pine Nuts for garnish

lemon wedges for garnish

 

Follow the recipe in the image or the more helpful video 🙂

Start by cleaning and cutting the chicken, then pat the pieces dry. Place them in a tray until ready to use.

Slice the onions, chop the tomatoes, cut the lemon wedges, chop the parsley or coriander and set them aside.

Toast the pine nuts.

Preheat the oven to 370 F/ 190C

 

Pour half the quantity of the olive oil at the bottom of your baking tray, add 1 tbsp DS Sweet Aleppo Peppers, 1/2 tbsp cinnamon powder, black pepper and salt then rub all together to mix and coat the baking tray. Add the sliced onions, top with the chicken pieces and chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and black pepper, the remaining tablespoon of sweet Aleppo Pepper and the 1/2 tbsp cinnamon powder. Drizzle the remaining olive oil on top and add 1/4 cup water.

Cover and roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

 

 

 

After 45 minutes, remove the foil paper and broil for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven.

 

You can serve this by placing the baking tray (as in the main post picture above) at the table for each to scoop into their individual plates. Or you can plate this for a more elegant presentation on the table as suggested in the video and the picture here.

 

Mhammar can be served with a side of salad, bread or rice. It can even be placed on top of rice as traditionally rice plates will be topped with meats especially when inviting guests to lunch or dinner.

 

 

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