If you are planning a culinary tour of northern Israel, which includes the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights, you might expect to find dishes such as freekeh, musakhan, maqlubeh, maftool and mana’eesh za’atar (a popular breakfast flatbread cooked in a taboon oven). And during my stay in Galilee, the valley dishes and many more. But one eventually learns, as a local told me, that “food belongs to people, not places.” So when my host, Reem Kassis (author of “The Palestinian Table”), started to assemble a simple spiced chicken traybake—one that requires almost no preparation—I wasn’t surprised. After all, this was her kitchen and her food.
Kassis and her family have their own recipe for a spice blend that they make from scratch every few weeks, but you can try almost any mix of spices to make your own blend: Start with whole spices, toast them quickly in a skillet, then cool before grinding (keep in mind that the Palestinian table has a penchant for warmer spices mixed with savory). At Milk Street, we call for allspice, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper, but creating your own house blend and using it on almost everything is a quick way to up your culinary game.
The recipe is simple enough. Toss chicken and wedges of unpeeled potatoes in oil with the spices and 2 teaspoons of pomegranate molasses. Heat the oven to 450°F, place garlic in the center of the rimmed baking sheet, arrange the chicken around the garlic, then the potatoes around the chicken. Roast for about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken and potatoes, mash the garlic on the sheet, add some water, then scrape up the browned bits to make a sauce. Done and delicious.