Mussakhan with cornish hens

April 13, 2011  •  Category: ,


I have made this Palestinian dish before using  boneless thighs or bone-in chicken pieces;  this is the first time I try it with cornish hens. The cornish hens lend themselves very well to this dish, because one hen will suffice per piece of (lavash or markouk) bread. As a result, each person will be presented with their little cornish hen encased in bread and onions.

Can’t find this bread? Use pita bread, the largest one possible.


  • 1 Cornish hen per person (or per two people)
  • one large onion per hen
  • 3 Tablespoons of sumac per hen
  • olive oil, as needed
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of seven-spice seasoning or a mixture of cinnamon and allspice and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup of chicken broth


  1. Rub the cornish hens with a cut lemon and sprinkle evenly with some seven-spice or a mixture of cinnamon and allspice, white or black pepper and salt.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a pot and brown the hens all over until golden-brown throughout. Add two cups of water to the pot and let the water cook the hens for 20 minutes and change into a broth.
  3. Slice the onion into rings and pan-fry in a skillet with some olive oil; when the slices are soft and start to caramelize, sprinkle with the sumac and a pinch of salt and remove from the heat.
  4. Lay a piece of lavash or markouk or pita bread on a greased pan. Place the hen in the middle and surround by the onions placing some onions on top of the hen. Fold the bread over till the hen is completely enclosed.  You may need to start off with the bread on top of the hen and tuck the bread in to enclose the bird. Sprinkle the entire bread with about a cup or two of the broth. Place in a preheated 350F oven for about 20 minutes or until the bread is golden-brown. Serve.

NOTE: If you cannot find lavash or markouk bread, you can use a large pita bread instead, splitting it open and stuffing the bird inside.


31 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Marie-Claire says:

    Où puis-je trouver le “7 spice”? Par contre, j’adore tous les plats avec du Sumac… que tu m’avais fait découvrir chez Anne-Marie il y a longtemps, et que j’ai toujours dans mon placard depuis. A Dallas, où acheter le pain spécial?
    Je fais cette recette la prochaine fois que j’ai du monde!

    • Joumana says:

      @Marie-Claire: tu peux trouver tout ça chez Sara Bakery sur Sherman et Spring Valley; le pain est fait chez Fadia sur Campbell et Hillcrest (Phoenicia Bakery) mais elle le vend chez Sara.

  2. Juliana says:

    Wow, cornish hen wrapped in lavash…looks delicious, what an appetizing dish. Hopa you are having a great week 🙂

  3. Lyndsey says:

    This looks so good. I need to pull out the sumac to use on poultry more often. I do use it on fish a lot. Sounds like a nice combo with the seven spice. I have never had cornish hens before, you are pushing me to try it! In a good way 😀

  4. Bo says:

    This is a very interesting way of cooking cornish hen…I know I’d love the flavor of it since its seasoned with sumac.

  5. sweetlife says:

    my hubby loves sumac, lovely cornish hens..


  6. Devaki says:

    What a stellar presentation – I have only ever had Mussakhan with chicken bits and onions but yours makes one heck of a gourmet presentation. I must make this at a dinner party 🙂

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  7. Tammy says:

    Gorgeous presentation, Joumana. Wish I could have just a taste!

  8. Claudia says:

    I haven’t visited Cornish hens forever. Love encasing them in the lavash – so elegant with a surprise inside.

  9. Min {Honest Vanilla} says:

    I love all the spices that went along the recipe! Must be so delicious after encasing in pita 🙂 Mmmmm and the onions would lend it’s natural sweetness to the bread as well! Lovely dish!

  10. 5 Star Foodie says:

    These cornish hens sound so flavorful, love the addition of seven-spice seasoning!

  11. Jean says:

    I was attracted to your dish as soon as I saw the first picture but I knew I would love it as soon as I saw that it has sumac in it. Is there anything better than sumac? It just goes so well with everything. I just used it on prawns this week. What a great idea for a complete meal in one–presents so well, too. 🙂

  12. Heavenly Housewife says:

    That looks so elaborate and delicious, I imagine your guests must be thrilled to bits when you present them with one of these. Absolutely delicious.
    *kisses* HH

  13. Banana Wonder says:

    Wow! Never seen this one before. The meat must taste amazing.

  14. jantonio says:

    It looks delicious, I love sumac and all spices.

  15. Angie's Recipes says:

    I like cornish hens! This must be very fresh, and flavoursome.

  16. Nadji says:

    Cela fait un moment que j’ai cette recette dans mes archives et je ne l’ai pas réalisée à cause du pain. Je vais voir si je peux trouver des pitas xxl.
    Je suis restée un peu perplexe devant l’appellation poulets de Cornouailles. C’est du coquelets. Je ne cuisine pratiquement plus que du coquelet : il est plus cher mais plus goûteux que le poulet même fermier.
    A très bientôt.

  17. Nuts about food says:

    The next time I caramelize onions I will definitely use some sumac to mix in. Thanks for the tip.

  18. Joanne says:

    What a gorgeous presentation! The hens sound absolutely delicious. These have some definite wow-factor!

  19. Cherine says:

    Looks wonderful. Would love to try it soon!

  20. Conor @ HoldtheBeef says:

    My very own Cornish hen, just for me, all wrapped up like a parcel? I so wish I could come dine with you! I’d bring a good bottle of wine, I promise.

  21. sensiblecooking says:

    I was reading through the recipe and drooling the whole time. I am not sure if I can get cornish hen locally so is it ok to use the normal chicken?

  22. T.W. Barritt says:

    Such a beautiful presentation! I love the way the hen is wrapped so beautifully.

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  24. Suzy Eats says:

    This is looks amazing!! I have made this with chicken but not a cornish hen. I am going to try this. Thanks!

  25. deana says:

    I can’t imagine how good this would be… I was even thinking of using that Giant Ethiopian bread with a full size chicken… exotic and comfort food in one dish… perfect!

  26. bergamot says:

    This looks really inviting. Must try it. Though trying to get the largest pita will be quite a challenge.

  27. savoringtimeinthekitchen says:

    What a wonderful presentation and so delicious!

  28. domi says:

    Excellentissime !!! Une préparation chic et pleine de charme dans son ” écrin ” savoureux. Sur que cette préparation en ” croûte ” de pain doit faire son effet sur les convives….

  29. Mathai says:

    Looks great! I’m sure it tastes awesome too 🙂

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