Happy New Year! In the words of my blogger friend, Nina Safar – 2015 will be “EPIC”. This recipe is a great one to start the new year because it is packed with flavor, but not with calories!
Although “Shawarma” is its Arabic name, it is also referred to as “ Döner Kebab” which in Turkish means “one that turns” Many countries (Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, have their variation of shawarma – so we just refer to it as a “Middle Eastern” shaved sandwich consisting of either of beef, lamb, chicken, goat, turkey or a mixture. It is heavily seasoned, usually marinated and pierced through a spit; topped with a whole onion and sometimes tomato. The end result is a succulent roasted and very flavorful piece of meat which is then sliced thin and served in a pita, lavash or other flat bread. Toppings can range from a variety of salads (Israeli salad, cabbage, or carrot salad) and sauces or dips (hummus and tahina)
This is one of my favorite foods because of its flavor, and though many households do not have a rotating spit, it is fairly easily to replicate. Adding the right combination of spices and grilling it on very high heat to achieve a char on the protein is the key to making it taste like the ones you remember.
CHICKEN SHAWARMA ( At Home )
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless thighs
Olive oil (or Pam spray) for grilling (by eye)
1 small Spanish onion, sliced
1/2 tsp Salt,
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp Onion powder
1 Tbsp Garlic powder
1/2 tsp Chili powder
1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Ground cloves
1/4 tsp Curry Powder
1/8 tsp Turmeric powder
*Grill pan ( results come out better, but a grill pan is not required. Follow the instructions with a Teflon saute pan instead)
- Create a spice mixture by combining all spices together.
- Liberally season (*You will have some left over. Label and keep some for another protein to try.) all boneless, skinless thighs and allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the onion and reserve.
- Get a grill pan hot FIRST, then add a bit of Pam spray or olive oil and arrange your chicken evenly so it does not crowd the pan ( this is essential so the heat circulates throughout) Place sliced onion on top so the juices trickle down.
- Allow to cook on one side for about 5 minutes. **The chicken will easily lift off with your tongs once ready to flip! Once flipped, scatter onions throughout the pan and allow the other side to cook.
- Lower the flame, and finish cooking the onions to your liking. (I like to get dark color for optimal flavor) Remove chicken from the flame and after about 5 minutes or so, slice thinly on a diagonal.
- Serve with onions on top of rice, next to roasted potatoes or traditionally in a pita with your favorite fillings!