Chicken Shawarma: This is How the Arabic Version of Döner Kebab is Prepared


Lately, Simplifying a bit, shawarma is the Arabic version of döner kebab, which can be served in many different ways. Originally, it's prepared on the typical vertical spit that rotates slowly, but it's very easy to adapt the recipe to our kitchen.

The key is to achieve that characteristic texture and flavor of the meat, crispy on the outside but juicy and very flavorful on the inside. To achieve this, We've followed a method that works wonders: marinating, roasting, and grilling or griddling. With vegetables and a simple yogurt sauce, it becomes a delicious and refreshing bite.

Ingredients for 4 people

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: 600 g
  • Extra virgin olive oil: 60 ml
  • Ground cumin: 1 teaspoon
  • Sweet paprika: 1 teaspoon
  • Spicy paprika: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Ground turmeric: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Ground cinnamon: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Allspice: 1/4 teaspoon (optional)
  • Granulated garlic: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Ground black pepper: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Natural yogurt: 125 g
  • Lemon juice: 5 ml
  • Garlic clove: 1
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley
  • Tomatoes: 2
  • Romaine lettuce: 2
  • Red onion: 1
  • Pita bread or wheat tortillas: 8

How to Make Chicken Shawarma

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Preparation: 15 minutes
  • Cooking: 40 minutes
  • Resting: 2 hours

We can combine chicken breasts and thighs, but I don't recommend using only breasts because the result would be much less flavorful. Start by cutting the thighs into about four or five pieces each, removing any excess fat if necessary.

Next, place the chicken in a zip-lock freezer bag. In a bowl, whisk the olive oil with all the spices and salt. Pour over the chicken, seal the bag, and massage well with your hands to coat all the pieces. Refrigerate for at least two hours, preferably a few more.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray or dish with aluminum foil. Lightly grease with oil and place the chicken, separating the pieces in a single layer. Roast for 15-20 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through.

Let it rest for a while outside the oven and cut into thin slices using a good knife. Heat a non-stick skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat with a pinch of oil, and sauté the chicken for about 5-8 minutes until the small pieces are crispy.

Prepare the sauce by whisking the yogurt with lemon juice, chopped parsley or cilantro, minced garlic, a little oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the pita bread or tortillas with some sauce and add chicken, lettuce, onion, and tomato to taste.

What to Serve with Chicken Shawarma

Chicken shawarma can be served with other types of flatbreads typical of Middle Eastern cuisine, and it can even be stuffed into pita bread if carefully opened. The idea is for each diner to customize their plate to their liking by adding more or fewer ingredients and adding more sauce if desired.

The menu can be completed with some grilled or roasted vegetables, a side of rice or couscous, fresh fruit, pickles... although it's already a complete dish on its own.


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