Winter shawarma: recipe & method

This past summer – or was it early fall? – I hosted a shawarma dinner of grilled spiced chicken along with soft pita, salads and roasted potatoes.

Cooking on the bbq was a big part of the chicken’s success: the high heat, and meat close to the flame. I still want to prepare this delicious main throughout the year but I’m not really a year-round griller (it’s too cold and snowy for me).

 

Which leads to the broiler. I think the oven’s broil setting is an under used method of cooking.  You can usually cook under the broiler for similar results to grilling. Without the smoke, yes, but a short cooking time and some nice browned crispy pieces thanks to the high heat and the close proximity of the food to the element.

And so I suggest you try this shawarma spice mix recipe, and cook the chicken in the oven… under the broiler. In around 10 minutes.

The following recipe will feed four – six people: depending on hunger and whether or not you’re filling pitas for sandwiches or serving the chicken as a main protein among salads and sides. Combining the dry spices is really the only part that takes any hands-on time. Once you’ve got the flavourful mix all ready, the marinating and cooking are simple.

You probably have most of the ingredients already, and any spices you don’t have I suggest buying from a bulk food store, so you can get just the amount you need. If you don’t already have turmeric, because you don’t use it, what are you going to do with a nearly full package after you make this recipe?

 

This mix will make around 3 batches of chicken shawarma, depending on how much chicken you make each time. Just combine all the dry ingredients and keep them in a small jar until the next time.

Shawarma Dry Spice Mix

  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Allspice
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • Barely 1/4 tsp Cayenne
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper

Broiled Chicken Shawarma for 4-6

  • 1.5 lbs (.7 kilo) boneless, skinless chicken pieces: 5 small thighs (each cut in half) & 2 medium breasts (each cut into 3 pieces) is a nice mix, but use all dark (thighs) or all light (breasts) if you prefer
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dry spice mix
  • 2 tbsp Fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Lemon juice from 1/4 lemon, plus 1/4 lemon for squeezing later

Combine the listed ingredients and stir well so all the surfaces of the chicken pieces are coated. Cover and refrigerate to marinate at least four hours, or until the next day.

Turn on the broiler (highest setting if your oven gives that option) and set the oven rack at four inches below the element. Place the chicken pieces on a foil-lined sheet, spreading them flat.

Broil the chicken 6 minutes on the first side, then flip each piece over and cook another 5 minutes. Check that the thickest pieces are cooked through, removing those that are finished first, if necessary, so none get dried out.

Roughly slice each piece and pile on a board or serving dish; once they’re all sliced, lightly drizzle with olive oil, squeeze 1/2 lemon over and sprinkle with an extra finger pinch of dry spice mix. I like a little chopped parsley scattered over the top, too.

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