Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Version of Chicken Shawarma

If you poke around this blog, you'll see quite an assortment of posts about food.  I mostly share what I do to make food please me, which means that I alter recipes or presentations in ways that suit me.

That means you should be prepared to see no pretty food presentations here.  We don't have time for that.  We sit at the table, at least, but we don't do serving bowls or anything like that.

Recently, my gym sent out a recipe for Chicken Shawarma and I thought I'd give it a whirl.  I guess Shawarma is some middle eastern word for  chicken with a cucumber yogurt sauce, served on a pita. I bet some of you call that a gyro.

Since we are nothing if not multi ethnic, cross cultural and just plain lazy in our meal choices around here, I decided I'd add my own interpretation of this dish.

The real recipe is below, if you'd like to just cut to the chase.

Otherwise, refill your coffee and read along.

First, you need to marinate and grill the chicken.  The marinade involves Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and pepper.  I often use Greek yogurt as a marinade and this was quite similar to what I do.  My usual marinade involves an absurd quantity of Greek oregano (much different in taste from the oregano you are thinking of AND it grows year after year in my garden) but since I didn't have any, I followed what this recipe suggested.

I like using yogurt in the marinade because it's not oily and it keeps the meat moist.  I've done it with lamb too.  

I've also done it with mint instead of oregano, in the years I've had lots of mint.

I used chicken thighs because I thought it was chicken breast until I thawed it and cut it up.  Sometimes I doubt the validity of that Masters in Reading that graces my wall.

I always like to put marinades in a plastic ziplock bag because then you can massage the marinade and meat together.  If you remember.  I usually plan to do that and then never go back to massage them.

When I put the chicken in the bag, I decided to leave it sitting out because it was still kind of frozen and it's not 80 degrees out.

Then I decided that 45 degrees and really rainy weather be damned, I was going to grill it.  The darkness also added a certain element of daring to the experience.

It was probably the worst grilling experience I've ever had because it was stuck all over the grill and I couldn't see and it was just obnoxious.  I expected I'd have to finish this in the microwave but it was actually done.

I didn't have pita bread, plus the pita bread we can get here is nothing like what I've had in a true Mediterranean style restaurant, so I used chibatta rolls.  Multi cultural, here we go!

I put them in the oven to warm up and sort of toast for about 10 minutes.  I could probably have drizzled olive oil on them but I'm not a drizzler.  I don't think we missed it.

I put the cucumber yogurt sauce on the bread, put the chicken on the sauce and put some tomatoes on top of that.

Now, if this were served in a real restaurant, with soft, warm pita bread, it would have been all neatly served, folded in half, everything looking all neat and tidy.

But, this is not a restaurant, so bite me.

I do, however, think these tomatoes look fantastic!

Ok, here's the recipe.  It calls for hummus but I've been unhappy with my body and hummus lately, so I chose not to add it.  I think it would add a nice touch, especially if it was warm, but I didn't want to burp for the rest of the night.

It also says you can add hot sauce but I thought that was adding just one too many countries to the list.  Unless hot sauce is also highly consumed in the middle east/Mediterranean?

Grilled Chicken Shawarma

Shawarma is a Middle Eastern sandwich made with sliced, seasoned meat. For a lean meal, dig into this protein and flavor packed pita!
Prep Time: Marinade 1 to 5 min., sauce 6 to 14 min., cooking the chicken 15 to 30 min.


    1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
    2 cups Greek yogurt
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    Juice of 1 lemon
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    1/2 English cucumber, minced
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1/2 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
    4 whole-wheat pitas
    Thinly sliced red onion
    Chopped romaine to taste
    2 sliced tomatoes
    Hummus or hot sauce (optional) to pat lightly as a spread on pita 


    To marinate, combine the chicken with half the yogurt and 2/3rds of the minced garlic. 
    Add cumin, oregano, and lemon juice along with pinches of salt and pepper .
    Toss and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours.
    When marinade is ready, heat a grill or grill pan on high.
    To make the sauce, mix the remaining yogurt and garlic with the cucumber, olive oil, and vinegar.
    Add salt to taste and set the sauce aside.
    Grill the chicken thighs until they're lightly charred on both side and cooked through.
    Let them rest off the heat for 5 minutes.
    Meanwhile, lightly toast the pitas on the grill.
    Slice the chicken into strips and stuff them into the pitas.
    Add the yogurt sauce and veggies.
    Add your choice of dressing, if desired (hummus or hot sauce.)  

Linking here and here and here and here and  here and here and here


  1. That sounds so yummy! I've been craving middle eastern food. I use buttermilk in my chicken marinades all the time, but I don't think to use yogurt. Although my buttermilk is really just soy milk with lemon juice in it anyway :)

  2. I've never eaten the chicken version, guess I should give it a try. Here in The Netherlands "shoarma" is quite popular, but mostly it's made from pork. :) Danica


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