Chicken Shawarma – mildly spiced grilled meat and tasty sauce
There are ton of recipes out there for this traditional middle Eastern dish. I’ve eaten it all over Southern Europe and had a particularly memorable version in Athens. Writer-Son, who studied in Canada, longs for the Shawarma served from food trucks in Vancouver. We searched around for the best recipes and based this on one we found on CafeDelites, which is a great foodie website, and I hope Karina doesn’t mind my adaptation. It’s a lovely easy comforting family dish, you can serve it just with flatbreads for a simple lunch, or with chips and even rice for a bigger dinner meal. The essential thing is the garlic/yoghurt/tahini sauce, so make sure you get a good tahini, and if you have the choice of light or dark tahini, use the light one.
I'd say this meal is great for all the family but for some reason, teenagers especially seem to like a) grilled things and b) a meal they can assemble themselves. So let them roam free, stuff their flatbread with whatever they like in whatever order they like and save yourself at least one argument.
Serves 4 Timings: 10 minutes preparation, overnight marinade, then 20 minutes cooking.
For the marinade:
600g boneless chicken – I like thigh meat as it has a fuller flavour but breast also works
Sides: A salad made of chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumber and spring onions; red onions lightly pickled in white wine vinegar; chopped radishes; iceberg or other crunchy lettuce, pomegranate seeds.
Large soft flatbread and/or rice, chips, whatever carbohydrate your heart desires.
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, add the chicken chopped into bite sized pieces. Mix well, cover and leave overnight in the fridge.
Heat the grill to maximum, when you are ready to eat and have decided on your flatbreads/chips/rice and started to prepare that.
Thread the chicken on to metal skewers and grill under a strong heat until cooked through, turning with tongs to get all the surfaces cooked. This will take about 10-12 minutes. The marinade will catch and char, which is part of what gives the dish its lovely flavour, but it can set off your fire sensor, so be aware! Traditionally of course this is cooked on a spit in front of a hot radiant grill but in a domestic setting I find the oven grill is the best. I’ve tried it on a cast iron griddle pan and whatever you do to it, the marinade sticks horribly to the pan and starts to burn. When all the chicken is grilled through, take off the skewers and put it all in a dish – you can keep it warm at this point if you are still cooking the sides.
Make up the salads. The choice is very flexible but I think the lightly pickled red onions are a must – just slice up the onions into a shallow dish of white wine vinegar with a teaspoon of sugar and a sprinkling of salt. They are ready to eat in a minute. A mixed salad of tomatoes/cucumbers and spring onions gives a fresh crunch as does a dish of thinly sliced radishes – whatever’s fresh in the market. A scattering of pomegranate seeds adds a fantastic texture and that little pop of sourness to bring everything alive.
Mix the sauce ingredients together and whisk lightly to add a little creaminess. Loosen the sauce with a little oil if you need to, depending on the texture of the yoghurt you used.
Warm the flatbreads very gently if using.
To serve – lay the table out and let people choose their options – a wrap in a flatbread, some chunks of chicken with chips and salad, juicy chicken on fluffy rice, and dripping with the fragrant garlic/tahini sauce.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.