Friday, February 26, 2016

Chicken Shawarma in the Oven

I enjoy Middle Eastern food, but have limited experience in preparing it. My repertoire to date has been limited to hummus, stuffed grape leaves, lamb kofta, fattoush salad, pita bread (minus the pumpkin porter experiment), tabouli, couscous and more: all simple items that only hint at the depth of flavors traditional to so much Middle Eastern fare. It's definitely time to expand my cooking horizons, so why not start with a favorite street vendor item, Shawarma. Every visit to the Pier Street Sunday Market in Campbell River, B.C. includes a visit to the Baba Gannouj food cart for a beef shawarma pita half. That sandwich filled with shaved, marinated and roasted meat is Delicious with a capital D.   
Photo: Food cart Beef Shawarma at Pier Street Sunday Market in Campbell River, B.C. 

Lacking a vertical rotisserie, I needed another approach and found two terrific resources. Faith Gorsky's cookbook and blog "An Edible Mosaic", and a recent Cooking:NYT post encouraged me to try Chicken Shawarma in the Oven. Good decision! the meat was well-flavored and delicious as an entree on day one, reheated well for lunch on day two, and on day three made an amazing shredded chicken pita filling.

It was a simple, quick process, though overnight marination was the key to well-flavored chicken thighs. A large ziploc bag made easy work of mixing the marinade and it stored easily in my always-packed fridge. Note to self: Remember to turn the bag several times to redistribute this messy, colorful marinade.   

Just before cooking, toss in the onion quarters to coat. Use kitchen tongs to avoid staining your fingers and arrange the thighs and onions in a single layer on a foil-lined sheet pan. Roast in the preheated oven until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle, turning occasionally. Optional finish: saute quickly in a tablepoon of oil in a hot skillet on the stovetop to further crisp up the edges.

Slice. Serve with an assorted accompaniments. Enjoy! This is Middle Eastern street food that translates well into kitchen fare... though I'll still order it whenever I visit the Baba Gannouj food truck.

Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma

Based on a Cooking:NYT online recipe (link), with additional inpiration from blogger Faith at An Edible Mosaic


2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced 

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Shawarma Spice Mix
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper, to taste (optional) 

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, peeled and quartered (2 or 3 recommended)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  2. Marinate the chicken
  3. In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, salt and Shawarma Spice Mix, then whisk to combine. (OR, put the marinade ingredients into a large ziploc bag and massage to combine.
  4. Add the chicken and coat well. Cover and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.
  5. To cook:
  6. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan (OR line the pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.) Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade; toss gently to combine. Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade, and place on the pan, spreading everything evenly across it in a single layer.
  7. Put the chicken in the preheated oven and roast until it is cooked through, browned and crisp at the edges, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan and turning the chicken at least once (less time if you use boneless, skinless breast pieces). Cook until the interior is no longer pink. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes, then slice into bits. (For crispier chicken, use a large pan and saute in a tablepoon of olive oil over high heat until golden brown with crisp edges.) 
  8. Scatter the parsley over the top and serve with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, pita, tzatziki or garlic mayonnaise, hot sauce, olives, feta, rice... or whatever sounds tempting.


  1. This sounds really tasty! I love Middle Eastern food too.

  2. OOOO this looks like a great idea. So simple but so very delicious. Your repetoire is growing

  3. its a super delicious recipe.
    nice blog..


I love to read your comments so please leave a friendly note. Comments are moderated so it may take a while to appear.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...