The other day I wanted to try something new. I have often seen recipes on chicken kebab with sumak, but have never tasted or made it. So when I had four really nice chicken breast with thighs (you know, those little baboons that are almost a whole meal in itself) the other day, I had to try to make them with Sumak as a spice.
Sumak is not the spice we use most at home. We always have it, but mostly use it to spice up dressings, for marinades or when my husband makes sliced onion with parsley, olive oil and sumak for himself. I’m not a fan of raw onions, but he often uses it as a garnish for different meat dishes, pita / dürüm bread etc.
Is sumak turkish?
But sumak is also a very special spice. It’s not really Turkish, but along the years, it’s gotta be as Turkish as eg. falafel and so much else. My husband actually complained a bit, when I was going to write this recipe because, as he said, “it’s not really Turkish to use sumak. At least, it wasn’t used, when I was a child”. But now I did it anyway. Wrote the recipe. Mostly because it is not necessarily the ultimate truth, that just because he didn’t get it as a child, it is not really Turkish. But also because there are so many recipes with sumak in Turkish cookbooks, online etc. And then it tastes so incredible good and different from any other spice, I’ve ever tasted. Especially on this chicken. Yes, I will actually go as far as to say, that it is the best chicken I have ever made. And fortunately my dear husband and daughter agreed (my son does not eat chicken). So it’s definitely not the last time I’m making it.
I have seen that the Chef Rick Stein also has made a similar chicken with sumak, garlic, tomato sauce, chili, pomegranate syrup and sesame seeds. It also looks really good (and you can find the recipe right here). However, I still think that my recipe wins, because it’s so simple, you don’t need that many ingredients and the meat must not be marinated in advance (although you probably can, if you want).
The taste of sumak:
Perhaps you don’t know the taste of sumak. It tastes quite sour but very aromatic, so it’s not like a lemon. Sumak is actually made of some small red berries, that grow on bushes. They are dried and crushed to get the very sour taste forward. And that the spice origins from berries, I think you can sense in one way or another. Once, when I was going to bake a cake for the children’s kindergarten, I by accident swopped sumak and some other spice. And naturally I discovered it after I had already delivered the cake. With my heart up my throat and a little red in my cheeks, I asked, if it tasted okay. Fortunately it did (or so they said). But if it was true or not, I do not know. A sour spice may not be the worst thing in a cake, so maybe it works?
Now you may be a little nervous, that the amount of sumak, I use in this recipe, is becoming too penetrating and gives a very sour chicken. But no, again – sumak is not like lemon, which you can easily overdose. Sumak just gives a deeper taste, the more you add.
Chicken with sumak – more wants more:
And for this chicken I simply can not think of anything, that suits the chicken better. It simply tasted so phenomenal, if I have to say it myself (and you have to do it once in a while). And then it was so juicy, that there was really no need for sauce and the like (which my husband generally insists on). It was really plenty just with Turkish rice, a little salad and a little bread with spice butter. The spring onions, which are also in this dish and cooked together with the chicken, gets an absolutely delicious caramelized flavor, that only adds to the dish and flavor and just tast of more (so you can easily use 2 good large bunches of spring onions without any problems).
If you eat the chicken hot, lukewarm or just cold for example, the lunch the following day does not change that much. It’s just amazing no matter what. But I could imagine, that I could cook chicken with sumak next time we are in Turkey and are going on a picnic. Mmmm … yes (I say with eyes closed) that would be good, I think. Picnic at Phaselis with Sumak Chicken and various delights … Yummi.
You can see this recipe in danish here / se opskriften på dansk her.
- 4 pcs chicken breast with upperlegs, with skin
- 1 or 2 bunch spring onions
- 4-5 tbsp Olive oil
- 3-4 tbsp sumak
- salt and pepper
1: Switch the oven on under / over heat at 200 degrees
2: Clean the spring onions and cut them in about 3 cm long bites - also a bit of the dark green part
3: Mix 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 spsk sumak together with spring onions
4: Put 1 tablespoon of oil, a bit salt and pepper and ½-1 tablespoon of sumak on each chicken. Distribute evenly on the front and back
5: Put the chickens in a dish and pour the spring onions over
6: Put the dish into the preheated oven for about 60 minutes (depending on the size) until the chickens are finished and the meat juice is clear
7: Take the dish out and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving
8: Sprinkle with some extra sumak before serving