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Recipe Swap: Chicken Shawarma

Ages ago, I went out to Michigan to visit some friends. I was only there a few days, but had a lot of fun. We went to the Birch Run Outlets (on Black Friday, if my memory serves me correctly), had dinner one in Mexicantown, and dinner the next night at The Redwood Lodge in Flint. They also introduced me to Middle Eastern food. There was a chain of fast food restaurants serving Middle Eastern cuisine, though for the life of me, I can't remember the name of it. Anyway, I had the lamb shawarma, and I loved it!

So, when I found a recipe for chicken shawarma in my assigned blog for the Blogger's Choice Recipe Swap, Jenna's Cooking Journey, I knew that was the recipe I was going to make.

Shawarma can refer to a method of preparing meat, where it is grilled on a rotating spit, or a Middle Eastern fast food sandwich (typically served in a pita pocket, or wrapped up in flatbread) that includes meat cooked that way. The meat is typically lamb, veal, chicken, turkey, beef, or goat. Fun fact: did you know that, despite its lack of popularity in the United States, goat is the most widely-consumed meat in the world?

Anyway, the chicken in this recipe marinates for at least four hours in a yogurt/spice mixture (I let it marinate overnight). It is then pan-sauteed, and stuffed into a pita with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, and a yogurt sauce. The Mister was so excited when I told him about the recipe. Not only is it a fun deviation from our typical dinners, but it's also a lot healthier than most of the recipes I've been cooking lately. Each sandwich has about 336 calories, 5 grams of fat (less than 1 gram of saturated fat!), and 6 grams of fiber (recipe nutrition info calculated with SparkPeople's Recipe Calculator). 

The sandwiches were so flavorful, both spicy and slightly sweet. Typically I eat dinner leftovers for lunch the following day, but there were none! These were so good, we both had second helpings.

Chicken Shawarma
Source: Jenna's Cooking Journey

For the marinade

  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (I used 2% fat)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 ¼ pounds chicken breasts, uncooked, cut into strips

For the yogurt sauce

  • 7 oz cup plain Greek yogurt (I used a 2%-fat single-serve cup)
  • ¼ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

For the sandwiches

  • 1 medium cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dill
  • ½ head romaine lettuce, washed and torn
  • 6 pitas, or flatbreads (I used whole wheat pitas)
  1. In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients (Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, cinnamon, oregano, salt, nutmeg, cloves, cumin and dill) and whisk to combine. Scrape the marinade into a zip-top plastic bag, and add the chicken strips, tossing to coat well. Refrigerate for at least four hours, or up to overnight. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt sauce ingredients (Greek yogurt, minced garlic, fresh dill, and salt) and whisk to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 
  3. Remove the chicken from the zip top bag, discard any remaining marinade, and pan saute until cooked through. Remove from the pan and tent with foil to keep warm. 
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, garlic, and red onion in a bowl. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt, pepper and the dill, then toss with the veggies. 
  5. When ready to serve, spread some of the yogurt sauce in the pita or on the flatbread. Layer the chicken, lettuce, and tomato-cucumber-onion salad, and serve. If using flatbread, wrap the bottom of the sandwich in tinfoil to keep it rolled while eating. 

To see recipes from other What's Cooking bloggers, visit the links below!

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Monday 3rd of December 2012

Was it 'Olga's'? I'm from Michigan and remember it well. They made great salad dressings, too.

The Redhead Baker

Monday 3rd of December 2012

I have no idea. This was . . . 8 years ago? I just can't remember anymore!


Friday 21st of September 2012

I have been meaning to try this dish. Your's looks so delicious, I don't know what I am waiting for. I need to make it ASAP! :D


Friday 21st of September 2012

I see recipes for this all the time and keep saying I am going to make it. It sounds similar to a marinade for chicken tikka masala that we really enjoy. I am sure this is fabulous!


Friday 21st of September 2012

I love this recipe. My mouth is watering looking at yours. I should make it again soon. Thanks for reminding me of a great recipe on my blog.

Anita at Hungry Couple

Friday 21st of September 2012

I'm glad you enjoyed your foray into middle eastern cuisine. I absolutely love it!

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