Spicy Shawarma

Make this addicting, spicy middle eastern chicken recipe.

Becky Low shares how to recreate this foreign recipe right in your own kitchen.
Chicken Shawarma
2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
⅓ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon allspice
¾ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon cayenne, more less to taste
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½-1 teaspoon salt, to taste
¼-½ teaspoon black pepper, to taste
Tahini Sauce (see recipe below) or yogurt
Tomato Salad (Jerusalem or Israeli Salad, see below)
Dill Pickles, chopped (optional)
Pita bread

Flatten chicken thighs slightly to even out thickness; place in a ziploc bag or 9×9 glass baking pan.

Whisk together oil, spices, lemon juice, salt and pepper; pour over chicken, coating all pieces with marinade. Cover (or seal bag), refrigerate for 2-3 hours to overnight.

Prepare Tahini Sauce and Tomato Salad; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Drain marinade and discard. Place chicken thighs on a hot grill (or broil in the oven) and cook, turning once, until chicken is cooked through or reaches 165 degrees in thickest part. Slice chicken into thin shreds.

Serve immediately shawarma in pita bread with chopped pickles, Tomato Salad and drizzled with Tahini Sauce or yogurt; or, serve shawarma meat over Tomato Salad drizzled with tahini sauce.

You may refrigerate meat for later use. To reheat, heat non-stick skillet on medium to medium high, add shawarma and stir fry to heat thoroughly. May add a little olive oil, as needed to keep meat from sticking to pan.

Shawarma, a popular Middle Eastern dish, is both the name and process of grilling meat (chicken, turkey, beef, lamb), as well as the name of a sandwich using the grilled meat in pita bread. I have divided this recipe out into parts, pull them all together and serve them up for either as a salad or sandwich.

Makes approximately 6 sandwiches; double salad ingredients for salad.
Tomato Salad (Jerusalem Salad, Israeli Salad)
Double ingredients when using as a base for salad:
1 cup roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1 cup cucumber, seeded and finely diced
1 cup red onion, finely diced, optional
1 cup bell pepper, seeded and finely diced optional
1 cup chopped fresh parsley, to taste
¼-½ cup minced mint leaves, optional
2-3 cloves garlic, minced, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
olive oil and lemon juice, or tahini sauce

Tomato and cucumber are the only constants in this recipes; everything else is optional and according to taste. Small chop all vegetables. Toss together vegetables, herbs, and garlic; salt and pepper to taste, drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil, or with tahini sauce, to taste. Toss and serve immediately.

NOTE – if preparing for later service, do not add lemon juice, oil nor Tahini Sauce until just before service.

Makes about 3 cups.
Tahini Sauce
½ cup tahini paste (sesame seed paste)
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼-½ cup water, more or less for desired consistency

Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice; thin to desired consistency with a little warm water (thicker for meat or humus; thinner for a condiment to pita, salad, etc). May stir in 2-3 teaspoons minced parsley to taste if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes about 1 cup.

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