I love all different kinds of food, and as much as I love comforting, fattening food, I prefer fresh vegetables and grilled meat. I feel energized and satisfied after eating lots of good veggies and some protein.
I’ve always been a carnivore, and my favorite method for cooking meat is to grill it. Sadly, for the last 5 years or so I’ve lived in apartments and haven’t had access to a grill. But, as I like to say, work with what you’ve got. I’m learning how to use my skillets to make really good meat. If you have an outdoor grill, use it for this recipe if you like! I will be making the chicken in a skillet.
Few cuisines embody the fresh veggies/tasty meat genre better than Middle Eastern IMO. I absolutely love shawarma, and it is incredibly easy to make. Flavorful, juicy, charred chicken with cool, crisp veggies and creamy yogurt and hummus sauces. It makes me happy just thinking about it!
I am absolutely not above purchasing prepackaged foods, especially if it’s a busy day and I don’t have time or energy to cook. I do try to pair convenience foods with something fresh, like a salad, but I also keep a frozen pizza in the freezer at all times, and sometimes that’s it for dinner. That’s life, and it’s ok.
This recipe is midway between frozen pizza and a four-course meal from scratch. I’ll make the chicken seasoning, Jerusalem salad, and sauce from scratch. The hummus, rice, and naan are all prepackaged.
Tim and I were walking through Trader Joe’s a while ago and I snatched this up before I even knew what was happening.
I’m a sucker for naan, and if I can’t get it at my favorite Indian restaurant, with chai, and korma and tandoori chicken and mango custard and saffron rice and…..
Ahem….if I can’t get it at my favorite Indian restaurant, I am not above buying it frozen. I know Middle Eastern and Indian food are not the same things, but I like naan so much more than pita. It just has a better flavor, I think.
Start by prepping your chicken. This recipe is only for 2 servings, but alter it as you need to based on how many people you’re serving. I put 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs in a Ziploc bag, added my rub ingredients, sealed the bag, and rubbed the spices into the chicken. You can use chicken breast for this if you like, but the thighs taste so much better. Let the chicken rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours so all of the flavors can mingle and get into the chicken.
Typically shawarma would have turmeric in the seasoning, but I didn’t have any. Work with what you’ve got!
Once you’ve got the chicken rubbed and soaking up all of those yummy flavors, start on your Jerusalem salad. Jerusalem salad is simply cucumber, onion, tomato, and olive oil. I decided to add a little salt, pepper, lemon juice, and parsley as well.
Dice 1 cup of your cucumbers into pea-size pieces, maybe a little bigger, and 1/2 cup of your red onion.
I used these beautiful heirloom snacking tomatoes, and I quartered them. You can use any tomato that you have, but I recommend grape or cherry tomatoes. 1 cup of diced tomatoes.
Add 1 Tbsp. each of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and about 1 tsp. dried parsley. Toss to combine, cover, and refrigerate until it’s time to eat.
Now make your hummus sauce. Add whatever hummus you have, plain yogurt, onion powder, smoked paprika, lemon juice, and garlic to a small bowl and combine. Add water to thin it out if you want it to be drizzleable (is that a word?), and salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. Sooo easy. Set aside or refrigerate until it’s time to eat.
If you need to cook some rice, do that now. I used a package of microwavable garlic brown rice/quinoa, mixed with rice leftover from dinner the night before, so all I had to do was warm it all up in the microwave.
When it’s time to cook your chicken, use your method of choice. I used a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat with about a tablespoon of olive oil in it. Keep in mind the spices that come off of the chicken in the cooking process will burn. Keep things ventilated, and when you’re done with the skillet, boil some water and baking soda in it for about a half-hour, and then use some baking soda and dish soap to scrub it.
Cook your chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 160° F. Pull chicken off and set it on a cutting board. Let it rest a few minutes before you slice it into 1/4″-1/2″ slices, against the grain.
Put 1 cup of rice into a bowl, top with a sliced chicken thigh, a healthy serving of your Jerusalem salad, and other toppings of your choice. We had sliced dill pickle gherkins and kalamata olives. I finished them with the hummus yogurt sauce and some crumbled feta. You could also add babaganoush, tabouleh, pickled onions, diced sweet peppers…. anything that sounds good to you!
Serve with a flatbread of your choice, and dig into this delicious, healthy, refreshing meal!