The popular grilled chicken kebabs of Lebanon and Syria, called shish tawuq in Arabic are probably of Turkish origin, from the Turkish word for chicken, tavuk. As with so many grilled foods in the Arab world, this preparation is traditionally served at special grill restaurants in Lebanon. Every cook uses, it seems, a different spice blend, so I give you some options to play with. Serve these hot as a passed appetizer or at a sit-down dinner or meze party. If you are serving it as a passed appetizer, use 6 or 8-inch wooden skewers with fewer pieces of meat on them. You may have to cut the skewers down to size.
Recipe courtesy of Clifford Wright
Total:
6 hr 40 min
Active:
10 min
Yield:
10 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of any fat and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds (from about 20 pods)
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seeds, optional
  • 1 teaspoon Baharat, recipe follows
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Baharat:
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup allspice berries
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions

Special equipment: 10 (10-inch) wooden or metal skewers

Marinate the chicken cubes in a glass or ceramic bowl or pan with the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, cinnamon, cardamom, thyme, salt, pepper, cumin, if using, Baharat, and paprika for 6 hours, covered, in the refrigerator, turning the cubes occasionally. Preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on high or prepare a hot charcoal fire. Skewer the chicken cubes so they touch each other but do not press against each other. If possible, use a skewer rack so the chicken grills without touching the grilling grate. Grill until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes, turning frequently. Serve hot.

Baharat:

Grind the peppercorns and allspice together and blend with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Store in a jar in your spice rack, away from sunlight. It will lose pungency as time goes by, but, properly stored, it will be good for many months.

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