This recipe is an ode to sumac – originally from Palestine, where they serve a whole chicken with sumac on bread, topped with a whole lot of sumac-spiced onions. Using the same ingredients, we make a Syrian version here by shredding the chicken, then frying it with onion and sumac and rolling it up in flatbread.
3 chicken breasts 1 a’atryaat garni (see page 16) Salt and pepper 100 ml (⅓ cup) of olive oil 5 large onions (coarsely chopped) 3 tablespoons of sumac 25 g (1 oz) of pine nuts (toasted) 6 flatbreads or tortillas
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the chicken breast, the a’atryaat garni and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the chicken for 20 minutes.
Drain the chicken breast and cool. When they are cool enough to handle, shred the meat with your fingers.
Heat half of the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Fry the onion for 5 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, sumac and pine nuts and the remaining 50 ml (2½ tablespoons) of olive oil. Fry everything together for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle a few spoonfuls of the shredded chicken on to each flatbread. Wrap the flatbread toward the inside and then fold it into a rectangle.
Heat the grill pan on high heat and grill the wraps for 2 minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Serve them warm with laban bi khyar
A’atryaat is a Syrian bouquet garni consisting of cinnamon sticks, laurel leaves, cloves and cardamom pods. The word a’atryaat means ‘perfume’ and it is used to impart a subtle flavour to stews. The components of the bouquet garni are sometimes added directly to the pan, without bundling them first. A’atryaat garni is not sold pre-made; it is something you make yourself. My recipe uses: 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 cloves, 3 green cardamom pods, and 1 laurel leaf.
Laban bi khyar // cucumber with yoghurt and garlic
All Middle Eastern and Balkan countries have their signature version of this dip. The Greeks eat tzatziki, Indians eat raita. The Syrian version uses a Syrian yoghurt, distinctive because it is a bit thicker than most yoghurts and has a citrusy freshness. In this recipe, I use Greek yoghurt because it is readily available. This creamy dip goes perfectly with pilaf dishes such as mujaddara or makloube.
400 g (14 oz) of Greek yoghurt ½ cucumber (very thinly sliced) 2 garlic cloves (pressed) Juice of 1 organic lemon 1 tablespoon of dried mint or 1 bunch fresh
mint (minced) Salt
Extra-virgin olive oil Mint leaves
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Salt to taste. Serve the sauce cold, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with mint leaves. Enjoy as a dipping sauce or as a side to other pilaf dishes.
Images and text from Sumac by Anas Atassi, food photography by Jeroen van der Spek. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99.