Chicken Shawarma Dinner


First and foremost, this is a multi-recipe post! Nothing here is too complicated, and when you make (and eat) all these things together, the result is immensely satisfying; it’s a favorite weeknight—yes, weeknight—spread for us. This is a dinner that really exemplifies some of our favorite flavors: bold spices, fresh herbs, and obscene amounts of garlic. While we understand that this recipe might not be exactly authentic (it isn’t), we can promise that it’s completely delicious. The styles of shawarma, after all, are completely dependent on what’s around and what’s good, and we used what was in our pantry. We can also promise that this is one of the easiest and quickest smorgasbords you can make to impress a small crowd. It makes a great sit-down meal, but also could promote casual grazing at a party. We’ve tried it both ways: 10/10, would recommend.

The zhoug was inspired from the Jerusalem cookbook, and has since found its way into many dinners of ours. Call us predictable, but we are suckers for fresh and spicy sauces that brighten things up.

Parsley and Mint Zhoug:

  • 1 cup of fresh parsley leaves, packed, some stems are okay
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, packed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 green chiles, stems removed
    • Note: You can use whatever green chiles might be available to you for this such as jalapeños or serranos. We love using Thai chiles, and for this particular recipe we us 4–5. It all depends to how spicy you want this condiment to be.
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Juice of 1 lemon, seeds removed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Combine parsley, mint, garlic, chiles, cumin, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse the ingredients together, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl. Once the mixture resembles a thick paste, keep the blade running and pour in the olive oil through the top slowly, creating an emulsion. Season with salt and double check the mixture for smoothness, pulsing occasionally if needed. Serve in a small serving bowl.

Chicken Shawarma:

  • 1 pound of chicken breasts, trimmed of silver skin
  • Kosher salt
  • Shawarma spice mix:
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • 2 teaspoons curry powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon sumac
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Oil as needed
  • ½ large sweet onion, thinly sliced into strips

Rinse the chicken pat dry with a paper towel. Fillet meat into pieces with even thicknesses; about an inch. Cover one side of the meat liberally in salt and spices and set aside.

Bring a pan to medium high heat with half a tablespoon of oil or so and place the chicken in the pan. As the meat cooks, salt and cover the other side with salt and spices. Cook until the chicken starts to whiten up the sides, then flip to finish cooking. Test the chicken for doneness (160-165°F) then remove from the pan to rest for 10 minutes before serving. While the chicken rests, add the onions to the pan and a little bit of water to help the drippings from the pan release. Cook onions until they become soft, translucent, and have sopped up all the drippings. Remove from the pan and serve.

Serve with pita, hummus, baba ghanouj, and, if you can swing it, throw together a two second Greek salad.

Serves 4.

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