Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Chicken Shawarma

I haven't met anyone who doesn't like Shawarma. Seriously. It really is a restaurant or street vendor treat that many really look forward to eating.  Shawarma vendors in the Middle East are to what hot dog vendors are in New York.  Some (like me) will plan a day around finding a way to treating myself with wonderful treat.  What is it?  Simply put, Shawarma is chicken or beef (that recipe coming soon) that is sliced and stacked in a rotating spit that cooks slowly by fire, similar to a rotisserie. The Arabic word Shawarma, originally from Turkey, comes from the Turkish word meaning "to turn" (Greeks have the word "gyros" and Armenians have the word "tarna" which all come from the word "to turn" or "turned").

You do not have to wait to go to your favorite restaurant to get this sought-after delight.  While sadly, many of us do not have a rotating spit, we can still recreate this classic dish at home.  It will come extremely close and (dare I say) you will find yourself loving this as much (maybe more?) as the Shawarma that is being served at your local restaurant.

Cut your chicken into strips...ok...these aren't exactly strips sorry

Combine everything (ingredients listed below) in a bowl

And stir until well incorporated. Let it marinate at least 2 hours. Overnight works best.

Heat up your nonstick pan until hot. No need for oil because there's plenty of oil in the marinade. Leave it alone to allow to brown. If you keep fussing with it, it will not brown.  Brown = Flavor!

All done!

A traditional way to eat shawarma (and my favorite way) is with thinly sliced red onion flavored with sumac and with tahini sauce. Slice one red onion and sprinkle 2-3 tsp of sumac. It will look something like this.
A garlic paste is actually most common to eat with the chicken shawarma and that recipe will be posted soon :)

Serve in a pita wrap alongside a salad or hummus

Chicken Shawarma

Serves 4-5
4 boneless (skinless) chicken breasts (about 2 lbs), cut into thin strips
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup plain unflavored yogurt (Greek works also)
2 tbsp minced garlic (equiv to 6 garlic cloves)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp paprika (not smoked)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 cardamom pods (optional)
3 tbsp White Vinegar
1/4 C olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, cover and let marinate for 2 hours or overnight.  In a nonstick skillet, on med to med-high heat, add chicken and let cook for 10 minutes until it browns, cook for an additional 2 minutes if necessary to brown.  Serve with or in pita bread, hummous, rice and/or your favorite salad.

Optional Toppings:
Tahini sauce (as the condiment) and sumac dusted red onion slices (one red onion sliced thin + 2-3 tsp sumac) are typical toppings.

1 C Tahini Paste (sesame seed paste)
1 C Water
4 Lemons
4 Garlic Cloves
1 tsp salt
1/4 C olive oil
...put all together in a blender and puree until smooth