Palestinian chicken wraps

April 8, 2010  •  Category:


A faster  and easier  version of the famous Palestinian dish called musakhan (meaning : to be heated in Arabic). Two essential features of this dish: sumac, and lots of it; caramelized onions, lots of them; chicken is presented encased in a thin Arabic bread, all juicy inside and  piping hot from the oven.

If you are not up to the challenge of baking the extra-thin, lavash-style bread needed for this dish, you can use flour tortillas or thin pita bread or as I did, frozen Turkish thin bread dough. It comes  pre-cut in triangles and can be found in the freezer section at the middle-eastern grocer.

This dish, while simple, really showcases the tangy and delicate flavor of sumac and caramelized onions; toasted pine nuts are often sprinkled on top and it can be served with a yogurt and cucumber salad.

What is sumac? It is a spice derived from a bush with red berries; it grows  in North America and in other parts of the world. Native Americans used to smoke it! In the middle-east, it is  used to flavor  foods; it has a  lemony taste and a reddish color.


  • 1 pound of chicken thighs, deboned (or debone them yourself)
  • 1 1/2 pounds of red or yellow onions, sliced in rings
  • dash of sugar, salt and white pepper, allspice and cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons of sumac, plus one more for the onions
  • 1 scant cup of chicken broth
  • 12 small flour tortillas or Turkish pastry leaves or 6 pita breads, split in half
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, toasted or fried in a dab of butter or oil till golden
  • olive oil, as needed


  1. Cut the chicken thighs in small even-sized bits. Sprinkle salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice and the sumac on the chicken.
  2. Slice the onions and fry in some olive oil till caramelized, adding a dash of sugar to help the process.
  3. Remove the onions and set aside, add more oil and fry the chicken for 10 minutes, stirring every so often; add some chicken broth and cook for a few more minutes.
  4. Place a large piece of foil on a cookie sheet. Pour some melted butter and oil in a small bowl and set a brush on the bowl. (or use only olive oil if you want)

  1. Take one wrap and brush it entirely with butter or oil on one side; flip it to the other side and place a couple of tablespoons of chicken bits, plus some sliced onions, a sprinkle of sumac and a few pine nuts on the lower edge of the wrap; fold it and place in on the cookie sheet; continue until all the chicken is used up.
  2. Place the cookie sheet in a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes or longer until the wraps are nicely toasted; halfway through, brush them with some chicken broth to keep them moistened; at the end of cooking the wraps are going to be crisp and browned on the edges; remove from the oven and serve right away with some yogurt salad if desired.


50 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Cara says:

    I would love to try more recipes with sumac and I love how these wraps are baked to a warm, crispy perfection. Sounds delicious!

  2. ts, eatingclub says:

    Oh, I think we can actually find a very thin bread (don’t know its origins, though), so we can definitely give this a try!

  3. Cool Lassi(e) says:

    Thanks for stopping by. Love this chicken wrap. Very slim and delectable wrap.It certainly looks exotic!
    Also love the apricot and milk pudding with spun toffee on the top, one of your recent posts. They are simply fabulous! You are very talented and expressive with food.

  4. rebecca says:

    love wraps like this always order in Middle Eastern restaurants and one for the road!

  5. sophia says:

    Oh I’ve heard of sumac before!!! But I have never tried it, personally. These wraps are seriously making me drool! It almost looks like taquitos, too!

  6. Sook @ My Fabulous Recipes says:

    Oh these wraps looks so scrumptious! I have never tried any Palestinian food before but these look so good!

  7. tigerfish says:

    I am always in for an exotic treat when I visit your blog 😀

  8. Cherine says:

    I bet these wraps taste like heaven!

  9. SYLVIA says:

    I will make these for my girlfriends for our weekly gathering in west coast.
    The combination of sumac and chicken, will be an explosion of flavor in every bite.

  10. Shauniece says:

    In the words of Rachel Ray Yum-O!!!

  11. Rosa says:

    Mmmhh, absolutely delicious!



  12. Priya says:

    Mouthwatering wraps…absolutely divine..

  13. Tara @whatwechow says:

    You had me at carmelized onions. I almost fell off my chair when it also had pinenuts. “ding!! ding!! ding!! we have a WINNER!”

  14. Angie's Recipes says:

    These chicken wraps sound and look so special and yummy! I must try sumac marinated chicken some time.

  15. Jamie says:

    Fantastic recipe! I love making things just like this for a cosy dinner with husband and I’ve been out of ideas! Strangely enough I have a sachet of sumac that I haven’t even opened and had no idea what to do with. Gorgeous! Love the chicken with the caramelized onions too. This is now bookmarked! Thanks for this great recipe and meal idea!

  16. deana says:

    I have a fabulous m’semmen recipe that would be perfect for this and how I love sumac… goodness these look sooooo good!

  17. Meeta says:

    oh jou thses look simply awesome. every time i come here you take me away on memory lane. i have very vivid memories of these delicious rolls when i was living in doha. so gorgeous!

  18. 5 Star Foodie says:

    I would love to find sumac somewhere to cook with. These chicken wraps look super delicious!

  19. Michelle says:

    I’m going to look for the Turkish thin bread dough! I’ve tried making wraps before and apparently I just don’t have the right coorination! They look similar to baseball bats!

  20. Nadjibella says:

    Cette recette est pour moi. J’ai du sumac dont je ne savais que faire.
    A bientôt.

  21. Barbara says:

    I’ve never had sumac, Joumana. You use it rather like salt don’t you? What does it taste like?
    I love wraps; just had one for lunch! Would much rather have tried yours!

  22. Mary says:

    I’ll have to send away for sumac, but it will be worth the wait and effort, Joumana. These really look delicious and I can almost taste those heady flavors dancing on my tongue. Have a great day…Mary

  23. Chris says:

    Oh I love sumac *and* caramelized onions — this looks like a simple and great dish!

  24. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    I am so glad you found my website because it led me right back to yours. I love Arabic food and have many of the ingredients in my kitchen. I can learn so much more now! Love this chicken wrap.

  25. sweetlife says:

    baked with carmelized onions and sumac…wow yum…great recipe


  26. Stacy says:

    Sumac, chicken and caramelized onions sounds delicious!

  27. Nour El-Zibdeh says:

    I love you for this post! I’ve just remembered the deliciousness of this dish when my mama (mother in Arabic) or tata (grandmother) do it 🙂 This is absolutely one of my FAV foods. My mom does the open bread musakhan as a main dish, and does these for appetizers. My dilemma is finding the right bread here in the US. Never tried the Turkish bread, great idea though!


  28. Arlette says:

    Marhaba Joumana
    These looks so yummy… its been a while since i did them.
    for my lunch i do the tortillas and for orders I do them in phyllo
    pastries and homemade strudle, slice them on a diagonal.. very elegant bite size appetizers.
    a short cut for you, i use brosted chicken from the store, sliced and added to the caramelized onions, couple tbsp chicken stock, cumin and sumac, slat and pepper, sometimes chilli pepper, toss toasted walnuts when ready to assemble…

  29. peter says:

    I do have sumac on hand and it’s a wonderful contrast in taste when tossed in sliced red onions. These cigars are a great appetizer idea.

  30. Not Quite Nigella says:

    I had no idea that people used to smoke sumac! This looks wonderful and the fact that it has a lot of caramelised onion is such a selling point! 😀

  31. gertrude says:

    Thanks for stopping by at my blog and left a comment. I never heard of sumac before. I am sure it taste great with grill meat.

  32. Barbara Bakes says:

    I’ve never tried sumac, but it sounds like a spice I would love. These look delicious!

  33. Coconut Raita says:

    These look marvellous! My husband peeked over my shoulder while I was reading your post and now he is badgering me to make them… for breakfast! I’ll try and hold off until lunch time. Keep up the great work.

  34. Julie says:

    Grâce à toi, je sais maintenant ce qu’est le sumac. J’ai une recette de pommes au four au sumac dans un livre mais je ne connaissais pas du tout! Sinon tes chicken wraps ont l’air super, j’en emmènerais bien pour la pause-déjeuner, ça serait parfait!! Gros bisous!

  35. HistoryOf GreekFood says:

    It is a pity that sumac is not used in modern Greek cooking, though it was much appreciated by ancient Greeks and Byzantines.
    The wraps look so delicious!

  36. Olive says:

    looks really delicious, I will try to find sumac here..thanks for sharing! 🙂

  37. joudie kalla says:

    Musakhan is my all time favourite dish. My teta used to make this also and then my mum taught me how to make them. I am a caterer and my non arab clients always request this. The sumac takes this to another level. One of my favourite ingredients.
    Lovely blog. Lovely food.

  38. Dimah says:

    These wraps look so delicious! I love musakhan!

  39. Lori says:

    I have to say that I just love sumac! Love the lemony taste of it. I wish more Americans would discover it- its really a great flavor, especially on meats. I have heard that there are many sumac plants. I would love for you to tell me that I can use the ones growing around here. But then again sumac is not so expensive.

    This chicken looks awesome. I am going to try this because I have a ton of onions to use up and a ton of sumac. I just may do this one tomorrow…

  40. Doc says:

    Awesome, simply awesome. Thanks!

  41. Mariana says:

    I love how delicate these appear. They are almost a perfect chicken wrapped cigar.

  42. cmiranda says:

    I actually had this dish yesterday minus the sumac but instead spread with yogurt balls(labneh bi zeit).Simply delicious.

  43. lebwmex says:

    A Palestenian co-worker made these and I embarressed myself by eating so many. I have yet to have the nerve to make them until I saw your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  44. Coconut Raita says:

    I made these for lunch today and they were fantastic! The flavours were so unusual. I am now considering a foodie trip to the middle east.

  45. Sasa says:

    I love sumac but I’m in a bit of a rut about what to do with it and this looks amazing, thank you! I’m enjoying looking at your archives too 🙂

  46. asia jo says:

    darling I am planning to make those scrumptious wraps tonight but there is no sumac available here – is lemon zest and salt a good substitute? thank you!

    • Joumana says:

      @asia jo: I ain’t gonna lie to you! sumac is what makes it taste like musakhan! but lemon zest, paprika and a dash of cumin or allspice or cinnamon will do!

  47. Adelina says:

    Never had this wrap before… it looks so appetizing. I even have Yufka in my freezer… I should try it out!

  48. Tara says:

    These were wonderful! I made homemade lavash to wrap the chicken and we all loved it. Thanks!

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