Derek and I recently went to a Middle Eastern restaurant, Lebanese Taverna, in our neighborhood. We shared a “Taste of Lebanon” chef’s platter for an appetizer. It had nine little portions of various dips and sauces (hummus, baba ganoush, etc.) and little bites including a grape leaf and falafels. So good!
For our entrees, we both got shawarma sandwiches– chicken for me and lamb for Derek. Oh, you’ve never heard of shawarma? It’s a middle eastern dish where layers of spiced meat are skewered on a vertical spit and slow roasted in its own fats and juices. Servings are carved off the “cone of meat” and served tucked inside flatbread.
I had been thinking about the chicken shawarma and was bound and determined to make an at-home version. The Google machine came up with the recipe below, and the grilling machine (aka Derek) helped make this dinner. For a more authentic experience, chop the cooked chicken into small pieces and sauté it a skillet with some olive oil before tucking in. We were too lazy/hungry for that so just served the chicken chunks with some homemade tzatziki (recipe coming soon!) and grilled whole wheat pitas. Yum!
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Nonstick cooking oil spray
Slice the chicken breasts into 5-6 pieces each and the thighs into 3-4 pieces each. Place them in a large Ziploc bag. In a measuring cup or a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Pour the spice marinade over the chicken pieces. Massage the chicken pieces in the bag to make sure everything is evenly coated in the marinade. Place chicken in the refrigerator and let it marinate at least 1 hour, up to overnight. Spray the grill with nonstick cooking oil and preheat to medium heat. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto skewers. Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, giving a quarter turn every 5 minutes, till cooked through.
For a more authentic experience, chop the chicken into smaller pieces and sauté in olive oil over medium heat. If you don’t have a grill, you can also roast the chicken pieces in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, flipping once and cooking it through.