Appetizers/Snacks

Shish Tawook – Lebanese Chicken Skewers

These chicken skewers are mildly flavored, light and super approachable in terms of ingredients. Dont compare the spice levels to a tikka or kabab but they are juicy and delicious especially during hot weather. A super easy recipe which is perfect for summer evenings when you don’t want to slog in the kitchen. Marinate the chicken (or use vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms or even paneer cubes) few hours ahead and grill just before serving. You can make easy sides like yogurt raita or hummus. The tawook is traditionally served with a sharp garlic sauce called toum but I make garlic yogurt instead.

The grilled juicy chicken morsels are best served right off the grill and are also amazing tucked inside pita bread or naan for a satisfying wrap or you can serve them as a side to simple pilafs or salads. I have been making these for many years and developed this recipe over years which is a huge hit with my family.

Tawook marinade is brightly flavorful with lemon and yogurt than shawarma marinade which has more of warm spices going in. I like to add a little ginger and green chilli to my marinade for added kick though traditionally paprika is used. If you do not have thyme, use dried oregano, it gives a close flavor. Use tomato puree if you dont have tomato paste. The recipe is really approachable like I said before ūüôā Use large chunks of chicken breast since they tend to dry out in the high heat of the grill. If you do not have grill, use a hot iron skillet to cook them or broil in the oven. Chicken breast cooks fast and cooks easily but also dries out easily so avoid baking in oven or cooking on slow heat(they will become watery). And as I always always point out, since the ingredients are few- try to use good quality olive oil and organic or very good quality yogurt.

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Shish Tawook

Lebanese Chicken skewers with chicken marinated in lemon, garlic & yogurt, these are super easy to make and perfect for quick summer meals.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole milk thick yogurt (use greek yogurt or hung curd)
  • 1 lemon juiced (about 3 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger shoot, minced
  • 1 Thai green chillies (optional, adjust to tolerance, skip for kids)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste (or 1 tbsp thick tomato puree)
  • 1.5 tsp paprika (or kashmiri chilli powder) , gives the color not the heat
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1.5 lb(750 gms) chicken breast, cut in large chunks
  • Oil for brushing

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, add all the ingredients except the chicken and using a whisk, mix very well.
  • Before adding chicken, taste the marinade and make sure that its sharp salty. If the salt is less the chicken wont have flavor.
  • Add the chicken, using your hands, massage the chicken chunks well with the marinade. Cover with a cling film and refrigerate and let marinate for about 5 hours.
  • If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 40 minutes. You can use metal skewers as well.
  • Skewer the chicken before grilling. Brush liberally with oil. Grill on high heat for 5-7 minutes on each side. Serve rightaway.
  • To make garlic yogurt raita simply whisk 1 cup plain yogurt with 1 tbsp grated garlic, thin out with water as desired and add roasted cumin powder, red chilli powder, chaat masala, herbs and salt to taste. Make raita atleast an hour ahead for best flavors.
  • Serve raita chilled and shish warm- best combo!
Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch · Indian Curry/Stew · Indian Streetfood/Indo Chines

Tandoori Chicken

Sinfully Spicy - Tandoori Chicken #indianfoodOn evenings coming back from work, when the bus was running terribly behind schedule, I volunteerd to get down way before my stop and walk down home.The side walk still wet from the rain spells an hour or two before smelled of decaying earth and lush green foliage all along looked as fresh as just bathed.The moist breeze of monsoon evenings was a much sought break after spending the whole day in air conditioning.

The fastest way to home get to home was through of busy market surrounded by the yellow government quarters (apartments) which looked like tiny match boxes stuffed on top of each other. In India, such streets are dotted with places to eat and these little food joints have been around for so many years that they turn into local favorites.

Sinfully Spicy - Tandoori Chicken #indianfoodThere was is a take out restaurant which was one of our favorites for non vegetarian food in the area. All you notice as a passerby were two or three young men wearing colored vests standing in front of the clay oven (tandoor)on one side,their hands stained in spices skewing marinated birds and tikka on to the slender iron bars, and some making rumali roti (paper thin flatbreads) on the other side. The aroma of smoke & cooked dough clinged to the blanket of air surrounding the entrance and the eternal long queue at the coupon station was a common sight.

Sinfully Spicy - Tandoori Chicken #indianfoodWhen we went to Delhi last year, I made sure that the husband tastes the food from there. I remember we ordered garlicy naan, butter chicken and tandoori chicken for home delivery. Its been quite a while and we still talk about the meal from that night so you know what I mean. There must be thousands of places in Delhi serving bestest tandoori chicken but this little restaurant thriving in a tiny pocket of big city is where most of my family memories are woven around Рof celebration, of laughter of cheerful Sunday meals around the table.

Sinfully Spicy - Tandoori Chicken #indianfoodThis recipe  took me quite a few attempts to get together. In India,the tandoori is more charred and blackish in appearance  than the orange hued you see here at restaurants. Infact, if you use good quality turmeric and kashmiri chilli powder, ideally the reddish-orange color should come along on its own during high heat roasting. In India, we do not eat chicken skin, so whenever making tandoori, use skinless chicken, the meat should be succulent and moist on the inside & chewy on the outside (not crispy).

Sinfully Spicy - Tandoori Chicken #indianfood

Ingredients

  • 8¬†chicken drumsticks ¬†(my package weighed total 2¬†lb, you could use any dark meat cut)
  • oil for basting
  • For serving –¬†Chaat masala, onion slices, lemon wedges, fresh chopped cilantro.

First Marinade

  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red¬†chilli powder or cayenne (adjust to tolerance)

Second Marinade

  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 black cardamom, seeds only
  • 1¬†green cardamom, seeds only
  • 2 cloves
  • 8¬†raw cashews, broken (or use 2 tbsp cashew meal)
  • 1 small twig of cinnamon (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup thick plain yogurt
  • 1″ fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp¬†garam masala
  • 1.25 tbsp¬†chaat masala
  • 2¬†tsp¬†kashmiri¬†chilli powder (this lends the color,not the heat)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
  • scant pinch of¬†ajwain¬†seeds
  • 1 tbsp¬†ghee,¬†melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp good quality saffron threads (optional)

Notes:

  1. Indian cinnamon is quite sharp as compared to the sweet cinnamon used in the west, that’s why I have noted a small quantity, adjust as per taste but do not go overboard.
  2. Black Cardamom has no substitute in this recipe. It has a woody, strong flavor and aroma much different that the sweet smelling cardamom. If you do not have it simply skip it.
  3. Chaat Masala is a tangy blend of spices which is used in indian cuisine.In this recipe it makes the marinade thick as well as lends it distinct hints of sharpness & smokiness,if you do not have it, use some lemon juice and a bit of roasted cumin powder in its place. If you want you can order online  or buy at indian/pakistani store. It keeps well for almost a year and can be used in salads, roasted vegetables or meats etc.
  4. You can make the tandoori marinade and immediately freeze it up to a month. When using, thaw it in the refrigerator and mix in the proteins or vegetables you are using.
  5. I recommend not using lean or boneless cuts like chicken breast for making tandoori because the high heat of cooking will immediately make the poultry chewy. You could use whole boneless thighs though.

Method

Skin the chicken and wash it under a running steam of water. Using paper towels, completely pat the chicken dry.Using a sharp knife, make incisions in the chicken and place in a bowl. Thoroughly rub the chicken with lemon juice, salt and chili powder. Set in the refrigerator.

Lightly crush the the black peppercorns, cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon in mortar & pestle.Place them into the blender. Add the cashews, yogurt,ginger, garlic, garam masala, chaat masala, kashmiri chilli powder, turmeric, nutmeg, ajwain, ghee, saffron and salt to the blender.Blend everything very very well till a smooth paste is formed. Refrigerate this paste for 30 minutes for flavors to mix.(If its not very hot, you can leave it on the kitchen counter top else in the fridge so that yogurt does not turn sour)

Mix in the chicken and the marinade and let sit refrigerated for 18-24 hours (at least). This time of marination is really important. You could marinate up to 2 days in advance.

Once ready to cook, leave the chicken pieces out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil (this makes cleaning easy) and set a rack over it. Also, preheat your oven to its highest temperature  (600 F in my case). Place the chicken pieces over the rack and roast for 20 -25 minutes or until done, basting liberally with oil. Use a lot of oil for basting, this is very important for a moist chicken. You will need to open up the oven door and brush the chicken 3-5 times, keep on turning it to cook on all sides. Alternatively you could grill the chicken outdoors,basting it at intervals

Serve hot immediately with chaat masala, onion slices, lemon wedges, fresh chopped cilantro.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!