The clout of earning a Guinness World Record often remains limited to the feat itself – at most a symbol of egregious excess (consider the world’s largest pancake, for example – nearly 50 feet across with no other purpose than to … eat). But for Palestinians, the world’s largest Musakhan was a show of pride and honor far beyond simple bragging rights. Making the Musakhan was a critical show of cultural pride during a time of great crisis. More than 40 Palestinian chefs united efforts to cook and assemble the 4 meter loaf. The finished dish weighed nearly 3,000 pounds, including 1,100+ pounds of onion, 550+ pounds of flour, 370 pounds of olive oil, and 150+ pounds of almond (pine nuts may also be used)! To further bolster the cultural emphasis, many of the Musakhan’s ingredients were sourced within Palestine. Indeed, Palestine’s former Prime Minister, Salam Fayad, says: “This great achievement completely depended on Palestinian products, mainly olive oil.” (Source)
“Musakhan is a popular, completely Palestinian food, made in Palestinian villages [...] We seek through this festival to distinguish musakhan as part of Palestinian culture.” (Source)
I think cooking is politics. What I’m trying to do here—I wish everybody practiced politics like that. It’s spreading the culture. It’s showing the real face of us and who we are and what we are all about. And I think this is politics. My politics. I think when you speak politics, talk politics directly, you always create a challenge and other opinions. It’s different from accepting the other. Food is taste. They taste, they accept, and it goes from there. It’s as simple as that. I think this is the best way. (Source)
There are many ways to make the dish – often the bread and onions are stacked like lasagna before being piled high with chicken. In other cases, as taught by Clifford A. Wright, the onion and chicken are wrapped in a thin bread like lavash, the end result more like gift wrap. But today I’m making Rawia Bishara’s rendition, which affectionately dubs “Chicken Pizza.” While onion and the lemony smack of ground sumac should be the dominant flavors, sometimes folks add a pinch of saffron and a dusting of cardamom, lending the dish an ethereal quality. In any case, the onions take on a lovely pink-purple from the sumac. I take Bishara’s advice and used naan here.
We explore one country per week
1) Travel Tuesday
Overview of the cuisine
2) Menu Wednesday
Read what I'll be cooking
3) Technique Thursday
We dig into an unusual dish
4) Fun Friday
Fun recipes, tidbits & polls
5) Monday Meal Review
Includes all recipes, photos, & reviews. Bonus: see what Miss Ava & Mr Picky think.