Chicken Shawarma

There are some foods that are pretty ubiquitous in metro Detroit that are much harder to come by down here. Middle eastern food falls into that category.

A few weeks ago we watched this program on PBS (a fantastic show, by the way). Ever since I haven’t been able to get Lebanese food off my mind. Especially shawarma, one of my favorites. I’ve been looking for a recipe and finally decided to go ahead and try one that I found here. I made a few changes, though. The shawarma turned out quite good. The sauce, not so much. It tasted really good but had the consistency of peanut butter, even after adding some olive oil and water and giving it a whirl in the food processor. I’ll have to find another recipe for that.

Anyway, here’s my version of the recipe. There are only a few changes from the one I linked to but I’ll write it out here anyway. I wish I’d taken a picture, but I was too busy eating.

Chicken Shawarma

Chicken and marinade:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (thinly cut)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine all ingredients except for chicken to make marinade. Add the chicken, mix well, cover and refrigerate at least eight hours or overnight.

(I need to find a different recipe for the sauce)

Just before mealtime, prepare the fillings:

  • 8 -10 loaves of pita bread (I like Toufayan Mediterranean-style flatbread)
  • one English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • one small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more) lemon pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped

Take the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and sprinkle with lemon pepper. Add other filling ingredients in a large bowl and combine well (I tossed with my hands).  Taste-test and add more lemon pepper if needed.

Grill the chicken (in a basket or grill pan) for about 10 minutes or until done.

Heat the pitas on the grill for about a minute (or less) per side, just until warmed.

Place enough chicken on pita to cover 1/4 of the loaf. Add veggies and pour sauce over the top. Roll like a soft taco or burrito and you have shawarma! Wrapping half the shawarma in foil makes it a little easier to handle.