Shish Taouk – Lebanese Chicken Kabobs

Shish Taouk – Lebanese Chicken Kabobs

Shish Taouk - Lebanese Chicken Kabobs

Another one of my favorites when I’m visiting Jordan or Dubai is Shish Taouk, Lebanese Chicken Kebobs.  I eat this for dinner almost everyday when I’m in that part of the world, basically because I don’t eat lamb (which I’m told is very good there) and really because I just love it.

It’s very similar to the Greek Souvlaki; just marinated in different spices and served with the yummy garlic sauce instead of Tzatziki, the cucumber yogurt sauce so popular in Greece.
For my Chicken Souvlaki & Tzatziki recipe click here.

Shish Taouk, like Souvlaki is marinated in yogurt, placed on skewers, and grilled; the biggest difference is the spices used in the marinade.  I mix my marinade in a large mason jar that way I can shake it until all the ingredients are combined, then I pour the mixture into a large ziplock bag and place the chicken pieces inside.  I marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator and place them on skewers just before we grill them.

Another “secret” I’ve discovered in the Middle East is to let the cooked chicken skewers “set” in a large covered WARM pan for about 5-7 minutes before serving.  This lets the chicken soak up it’s juices and the meat comes out very tender and juicy.

In Lebanese restaurants in both Amman and Dubai Shish Taouk is usually served with french fries and hummus with pita bread.  I prefer to have it with steamed white rice.  You can even place the chicken (sans skewers) on a pita add sandwich fixings and have a Shish Taouk Sandwich.

Ingredients:

3 pounds chicken tenderloins – cut into cubes (each tenderloin will make 3-4 cubes)

1 cup lemon juice

3 Tbls.  minced garlic

1/2 cup FULL FAT Greek yogurt

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tsp.  white pepper

1/2 tsp.  ginger powder

1/2 tsp.  nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. chili powder

2 tbls.  tomato paste

salt to taste

Shish Taouk - Lebanese Chicken Kabobs

Directions:

Place all ingredients except the chicken pieces in a large jar.

Shake jar until well combined.

Pour mixture into ziplock bag.

Add chicken cubes to bag.

Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to grill place 3-4 chicken cubes on to a skewer.

Grill until just done -do not over cook – chicken should be firm but not hard

Place skewers in warm covered pot for 5-7 minutes to set before serving.

Serve with your choice of starch and garlic sauce.  For garlic sauce recipe click here!  Enjoy!

Shish Taouk - Lebanese Chicken Kabobs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Shish Taouk - Lebanese Chicken Kabobs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: Servings
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients except the chicken pieces in a large jar.
  2. Shake jar until well combined.
  3. Pour mixture into ziplock bag.
  4. Add chicken cubes to bag.
  5. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. When ready to grill place 3-4 chicken cubes on to a skewer.
  7. Grill until just done -do not over cook - chicken should be firm but not hard
  8. Place skewers in warm covered pot for 5-7 minutes to set before serving.
  9. Serve with your choice of starch and garlic sauce.
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Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich

Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich

Chicken Shawarma Sandwich

Since returning from our summer vacation in Jordan and Dubai we’ve had a yen for the popular sandwich served everywhere in the Middle East, the ever popular Chicken Shawarma.

Shawarma is really meat, beef, chicken, veal, turkey, lamb, or a mixture of meats, grilled on a vertical spit; pretty much like how the Greeks prepare Gyros.  You see these spits almost on every corner around Amman.  This sandwich or plates are available from the corner snack shop to the food courts in the malls to even the high end restaurants around town.  They range in price from about $1 to $5 depending on where you buy it; but regardless of where you buy and how much you pay you’re almost sure to walk away with something delicious.

At home in Hawaii finding shawarma is nearly impossible, we have very few Greek restaurants and even fewer Middle Eastern ones.  I’m sure we’ve tried them all; some are adequate, but most we’ve found lacking.  The only way to get good Middle Eastern food is to make it at home.

So how was I supposed to make my favorite chicken shawarma?  I don’t own a vertical spit and wasn’t about to buy one; frankly I doubt I’d ever figure out how to use it.  Surely there was an easier way to make this yummy dish using equipment I already own, namely my stove.  I looked online and found several recipes that called for either oven roasting the chicken or frying it on the stove.   I didn’t care how it was cooked as long as it tasted good.  After experimenting with different spices I finally came up with a recipe that my husband says is almost exactly like the chicken shawarma we enjoyed in Amman.

Really the secret is in the marinade, that’s what makes the chicken tender and gives it that tangy spicy flavor.  I marinate the chicken over night, roast it in the oven, then make the sandwich on fresh pita with veggies and that oh so yummy garlic sauce.  The sauce is really a must for this sandwich, to learn how to make it click here.

Shawarma sandwiches are great for lunch, dinner, or snacks.  Really I can eat them all day long!  My grandsons love them too!

My recipe uses FULL FAT Greek Yogurt – I’ve tried it with the non-fat or low-fat yogurts, it doesn’t come out as tender.

Marinade Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken tenderloins – cut in half lengthwise
2 tbls. minced garlic
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1/2 tsp.  paprika
1 tsp. curry powder
1/4 cup FULL FAT Greek yogurt

Sandwich Ingredients:

Fresh Pita or French bread
Garlic Sauce
Tomato slices
Cucumber slices
Sour Pickles

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a ziplock bag.
Put chicken pieces in bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Place marinated chicken on parchment covered baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes – turning chicken half-way thru the cooking time.

When the chicken is cooked put your sandwich together.  You can either cut the pita in half to form pockets you stuff with the chicken and other sandwich fixings or you can place all the fixings on top of the whole pita then roll it up tortilla style.  When I roll it up I like to wrap the bottom half in parchment or wax paper to keep the sandwich together.  Of course if you’re packing them to take along then it’s easier to roll them and wrap them in paper.

Which ever way you put the sandwich together first spread some of the garlic sauce on the bread – then put in the chicken and veggies then drizzle the whole thing with more garlic sauce.

It’s really yummy!  Enjoy!

For my Beef Shawarma Recipe click here!

Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Easy Chicken Shawarma Sandwich
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 Sandwiches 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 12 Hours
Ingredients
Marinade
Sandwich Fixings
Servings: Sandwiches
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a ziplock bag.
  2. Put chicken pieces in bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Place marinated chicken on parchment covered baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes - turning chicken half-way thru the cooking time.
Recipe Notes

When the chicken is cooked put your sandwich together. You can either cut the pita in half to form pockets you stuff with the chicken and other sandwich fixings or you can place all the fixings on top of the whole pita then roll it up tortilla style. When I roll it up I like to wrap the bottom half in parchment or wax paper to keep the sandwich together. Of course if you're packing them to take along then it's easier to roll them and wrap them in paper.

Which ever way you put the sandwich together first spread some of the garlic sauce on the bread - then put in the chicken and veggies then drizzle the whole thing with more garlic sauce.

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Cheese Filled Puff Pastries

Cheese Filled Puff Pastries

Cheese Filled Puff Pastries

I’ve been making these pastries for my family for years.  It’s actually a Middle Eastern dessert using homemade fresh white cheese.  It requires 2 cups of cheese and I usually don’t have time to make that much cheese so I’ve modified it using ingredients that are available at the supermarket.

I like to serve it warm so the cheese is soft and stringy, but it’s just as delicious cold.  The recipe will make a dozen pastries, but we rarely have leftovers. You can prepare them in advance and pop them in the oven about half an hour before serving.  The syrup which is poured over the cooked pastries should be made in advanced and completely cooled before pouring over the pastries to prevent the flaky pastry from falling apart.

Cheese Filled Puff Pastries

Makes 12

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Ingredients:

1 package frozen puff pastry sheets (package has 2 sheets) – Thawed

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbls. ground cinnamon

1/4 cup butter melted

For syrup:

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

1/2 of a lemon

Cheese Filled Puff Pastries

15

1.  Mix shredded cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Mix sell so that sugar and cinnamon are evenly distributed.

2.  Roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry dough.  Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter cut the dough in half lengthwise.  Then cut into thirds across.  You should end up with 6 rectangles.

3.  Spoon half of the cheese mixture on to the pastry dough – evenly distributing it on each of the rectangles to form a line down the middle of the dough.  The cheese should not reach either end of the dough, leave room for crimping.

4.  Fold the long sides of each pastry rectangle over the cheese making sure the cheese stays in the middle.  Pinching the dough together to form a seam.  It will look like a cigar.

5.  Crimp both ends of the dough by pressing down gently with the fork.  Don’t press too hard that the fork goes thru the dough.

6.  Place pastry seam side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet about 1″ apart.  (You can cover the sheet with parchment paper instead of spraying with oil.)  Crimp both ends again with the fork.

7.  Brush each pastry with melted butter.

8.  Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the pastry turn golden brown.

9.  Remove from oven and pour cooled syrup over each pastry.  Let sit in syrup for 5 minutes before serving.

Syrup:

1.  Put sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium-high heat.  Stir until sugar dissolves.

2.  Bring to a boil.

3.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until 1/4 or so of the sugar water evaporates.  Liquid will slightly thicker but not syrupy.

4.  Remove from heat squeeze lemon juice into the pan.  Stir completely then set aside to cool.  The syrup will be thinner than pancake syrup so that it pours easily.

It is important that the syrup is cooled before pouring over hot pastry.  The pastry crust will fall apart if the syrup is hot.

Leftover pastries, if you have any, can be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in foil or plastic wrap.  It can be re-heated in the microwave but the pastry will be soft and a bit soggy.  For better results place on a baking sheet and re-heat in the oven at 375 degrees.

Cheese Filled Puff Pastries
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 Pastries 15 Minutes
Cook Time
25 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 Pastries 15 Minutes
Cook Time
25 Minutes
Cheese Filled Puff Pastries
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 Pastries 15 Minutes
Cook Time
25 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 Pastries 15 Minutes
Cook Time
25 Minutes
Ingredients
Pastry
Syrup
Servings: Pastries
Instructions
Pastry
  1. Mix shredded cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Mix sell so that sugar and cinnamon are evenly distributed.
  2. Roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry dough. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter cut the dough in half lengthwise. Then cut into thirds across. You should end up with 6 rectangles.
  3. Spoon half of the cheese mixture on to the pastry dough - evenly distributing it on each of the rectangles to form a line down the middle of the dough. The cheese should not reach either end of the dough, leave room for crimping.
  4. Fold the long sides of each pastry rectangle over the cheese making sure the cheese stays in the middle. Pinching the dough together to form a seam. It will look like a cigar.
  5. Crimp both ends of the dough by pressing down gently with the fork. Don't press too hard that the fork goes thru the dough.
  6. Place pastry seam side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet about 1" apart. (You can cover the sheet with parchment paper instead of spraying with oil.) Crimp both ends again with the fork.
  7. Brush each pastry with melted butter.
  8. Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until the pastry turn golden brown.
  9. Remove from oven and pour cooled syrup over each pastry. Let sit in syrup for 5 minutes before serving.
Syrup
  1. Put sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until 1/4 or so of the sugar water evaporates. Liquid will slightly thicker but not syrupy.
  4. Remove from heat squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Stir completely then set aside to cool. The syrup will be thinner than pancake syrup so that it pours easily.
  5. It is important that the syrup is cooled completely before pouring over hot pastry. The pastry crust will fall apart if the syrup is hot.
Recipe Notes

Leftover pastries, if you have any, can be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in foil or plastic wrap. It can be re-heated in the microwave but the pastry will be soft and a bit soggy. For better results place on a baking sheet and re-heat in the oven at 375 degrees.

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Meat & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves

Meat & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves

Meat & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves

When people think of stuffed grape leaves they usually think of the popular Greek specialty called Dolmades.  These lamb and rice stuffed leaves can be served hot or cold, but in most Greek restaurants I’ve gone to they are served cold as appetizers.

I’m a big fan of Greek cuisine, but Dolmades are not among my favorites, mostly because I don’t care for lamb. I do prefer the Arabic version, at least the way I learned to make it.  We stuff it with ground beef and rice and simmer it in tomato sauce.  Often times we cook it with stuffed zucchini as well and serve it hot.

I don’t normally see this dish on an Arabic restaurant’s menu, it’s pretty much good old home cooking I guess.  I don’t make them as often as my husband would like, mostly because it takes time to prepare and grape leaves were not easily found in my local supermarket until recently.  I was surprised to find grapes leaves in Walmart the other day.  It prompted me to make a big pot which made my husband very happy.

If you’re looking for something different to make for dinner here’s the recipe.

Meat & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves

 Ingredients:

1 jar Grape Leaves
1 lbs. ground beef
1 cup Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice or any long grain rice
1 tbl. minced garlic
1 large onion finely minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 large can tomato sauce
Water

Directions:

1.  Mix beef, rice, garlic, onions, and spices in a large bowl.

Meat & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves
2.  Drain liquid from grape leaves and gently remove leaves from the jar, separating the leaves.
Meat & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves

3.  Wrap meat in each grape leaves like you would a spring roll.  Place stuffed leaves into a large deep pot that has a lid.

4.  Pour tomato sauce over all.

5.  Add water until all the stuffed leaves are covered in liquid.  Gently stir liquid to combine tomato sauce and water as best as you can without tearing or unwrapping the leaves.

Meat & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves

6.  Simmer covered over medium heat until the sauce is reduced by 3/4.  The sauce absorbs the grape leave’s flavor while cooking the meat and rice stuffing.

Meat & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves

Serve with fresh crusty bread to scoop out the yummy sauce!   Enjoy!

Meat & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 1 Hour
Cook Time
45 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 1 Hour
Cook Time
45 Minutes
Meat & Rice Stuffed Grape Leaves
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 1 Hour
Cook Time
45 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 1 Hour
Cook Time
45 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Servings
Instructions
  1. Mix beef, rice, garlic, onions, and spices in a large bowl.
    Stuffed Grape Leaves
  2. Drain liquid from grape leaves and gently remove leaves from the jar, separating the leaves.
  3. Wrap meat in each grape leaves like you would a spring roll. Place stuffed leaves into a large deep pot that has a lid.
  4. Pour tomato sauce over all.
    Stuffed Grape Leaves
  5. Add water until all the stuffed leaves are covered in liquid. Gently stir liquid to combine tomato sauce and water as best as you can without tearing or unwrapping the leaves.
  6. Simmer covered over medium heat until the sauce is reduced by 3/4. The sauce absorbs the grape leave's flavor while cooking the meat and rice stuffing.
    Stuffed Grape Leaves
  7. Serve with fresh crusty bread to scoop out the yummy sauce! Enjoy!
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Cucumber Dill Hummus

Cucumber Dill Hummus

Cucumber Dill Hummus
I remember when Hummus wasn’t exactly a household staple and it was just plain and simple “Hummus”.  It was the basic dip that we served at home made with pureed chick peas, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini.  Today it’s become totally mainstream and is sold in most grocery stores.  Not only does eveyone enjoy this traditionally Middle Eastern dip, it now comes in so many different flavors.

I made this Cucumber Dill Hummus to be a refreshing change from just regular hummus.  It turned out great and goes very well with chicken kebobs or chicken shawarma wraps.  It’s similar to Tzatziki, the cucumber yogurt dip we love, but without the dairy.  My grandson Jett who has dairy allergies loves it!

It’s simple to make, you can use a food processor or blender, either one works well.
Ingredients:
1 medium sized cucumber – peeled, seeds removed, cut into large chunks
1 cup chick peas – Garbanzo beans
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 tbls. minced garlic
1 tsp. sea salt
3 sprigs of fresh dill
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
Directions:
Place cucumber chunks in food processor or blender – blend until very finely chopped and a bit liquidy
Add Chick peas – blend until it’s a soft paste
Add garlic and salt – blend well
Add lemon juice and dill – blend until dill is finely chopped
Move to serving bowl or dish.  Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil if desired.
Serve as a dip or spread.  Refrigerate unused portions.
Cucumber Dill Hummus
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1/2 Pint 15 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
1/2 Pint 15 Minutes
Cucumber Dill Hummus
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1/2 Pint 15 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
1/2 Pint 15 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Pint
Instructions
  1. Place cucumber chunks in food processor or blender - blend until very finely chopped and a bit liquidy
  2. Add Chick peas - blend until it's a soft paste
  3. Add garlic and salt - blend well
  4. Add lemon juice and dill - blend until dill is finely chopped
  5. Move to serving bowl or dish. Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil if desired.
  6. Serve as a dip or spread. Refrigerate unused portions.
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