Monday, August 31, 2015

Grilled Shawarma-Spiced Chicken with Yogurt Sauce

The best shawarma is a product of patience. The technique, alluded to in the name of the dish itself — 'Shawarma' — derived from a Turkish word meaning 'turning,' is the traditional preparation method where meat, usually lamb or chicken, is built up on a vertical spit, then marinated at length and finally slowly roasted as juices drip down to coat and caramelize its exterior. Whether shawarma is piled high on a platter or wrapped up into a pita or Markouk, a popular Arabian bread, is a question of preference, but it's the succulent meat that's the undeniable star of this dish. Combining the traditional seasonings of this classic roadside 'flavour bomb', the following recipe is an easy and delicious BBQ version of this middle eastern classic.

Shawarma marinade of minced garlic, ground coriander, cumin, cardamom, cayenne, 
paprika, lemon juice and olive oil

Skinless chicken thighs marinating in shawarma mixture

Grilled Chicken Shawarma with Yogurt Sauce
Serves 4

2 lb chicken thighs or breasts, skinless and boneless (optional)
4 pita or naan breads
Cilantro, for garnish

1 large garlic clove, minced 
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground cardamon
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil

Yoghurt Sauce:
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Combine all of the the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl and using your hands, massage into the chicken, ensuring each piece is well coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. Combine the Yoghurt Sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix, the cover and frigate until required.

Heat an outdoor grill or BBQ to medium high. Place the chicken on the grill and cook one side for 4 to 5 minutes or until nicely charred, then turn and cook the other side for 3 to 4 minutes. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the grill and cover loosely with foil, setting it aside to rest for 5 minutes. While the chicken is resting, brush the pita or naan breads with a little vegetable oil and set on the grill until warmed through and lightly marked, then brush with melted butter or ghee to finish.

To Serve, arrange the chicken thighs sliced or whole on a platter with sliced grilled flatbreads and a bowl of Yoghurt Sauce.