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Birds of Bethlehem

New Palestinian restaurant Al Aseel is turning out some wonderful roasted chicken.

I managed to get one bite over to my boyfriend, who had been attacking his own leftover prime rib sandwich with glee until he tasted the chicken. "That chicken could bring peace to the Middle East!" he declared while I glared at him for being so obliviously cheesy. It might be true, though.

The key to Palestinian chicken is the tangy yogurt it's marinated in for hours before hitting the grill. The yogurt is combined with only a few key spices — cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper and a generous amount of garlic — as well as some lemon to further magnify the bright acidity of the yogurt, and to allow the spices to penetrate as deeply into the skin as possible.

Musakhan chicken takes that beautifully prepared bird, grills it over charcoal and presents it atop a doughy piece of pita bread that's been spread with thin slices of sautéed red onion and a coating of sumac, a tart spice that forms the base of important spice mixtures like za'atar. Leave the chicken to rest on the pita if you can, and you'll be richly rewarded with bread soaked in the savory juices, every bit as delicious as the bird itself.

The scent of Al Aseel's musakhan chicken is mouthwatering.
Troy Fields
The scent of Al Aseel's musakhan chicken is mouthwatering.

Location Info

Map

Al Aseel

8619 Richmond Ave.
Houston, TX 77063

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Outer Loop - SW

Details

Hours: 10 a.m. to midnight, daily.
Hummus: $2.99
Foul: $2.99
Fatteh hummus: $5.99
Kufta kebab sandwich: $5.99
Musakhan half-chicken: $7.99
Quail: $11.99


READ MORE
SLIDESHOW: Palestinian Chicken and More at Al Aseel
BLOG POST: Palestinian Chicken at Al Aseel: Yes, It's Real


After the half-chicken demolition session, I'd hoped to be able to end the meal with some of Al Aseel's hummus. But the container I'd ordered to-go was sadly lacking in both garlic and tahini — the polar opposite of the tangy, well-seasoned stuff I'd had only a few days prior in a comforting bowl of fatteh hummus topped with ground beef and pine nuts.

I could have also gone for a plate of sweetly smoky baba ghanoush, which has a nice mildness here not found in other Middle Eastern restaurants. If I'd been eating at Al Aseel, I would have ordered it, and my meal would have been perfect.

That's all right, though. I'll be back.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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3 comments
Billy
Billy

معليم سلمهن

 
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