It is something of a guilty pleasure when I eat shawarma. It is exotic, tough to find in Cincinnati, and most likely not the healthiest dish you have ever put in your mouth. But the intense flavor, mixture of textures and ooey gooey nature of the dish make it pure comfort food for me. Thing is, until now, I had only enjoyed this meal from a nearby takeout restaurant.
So when the New York Times Magazine featured a recipe for oven-roasted chicken shawarma, I know I had to give it a try. Although it seemed a bit daunting, I quickly realized all you really have to make is chicken – the rest is purely assembly.
As for the toppings, you could really put anything you would like. I will list what we included, and the one addition to the recipe that I still believe made the dish is sweet, hot pickles. Without them the recipe would have been good. But with them, it was quite addictive.
Thanks to New York Time Magazine for giving us a way to enjoy my guilty pleasure in the privacy of my home!
2 lemons, juiced
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
A pinch of ground cinnamon
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Sweet, hot pickles
Tzatziki sauce (greek yogurt, lemon juice, chopped fresh mint, salt)
Prepare a marinade for the chicken. Combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, and red-pepper flakes in a large bowl then whisk to combine. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan. Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade and place on the pan, spreading everything evenly.
Put the chicken in the oven and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes, then slice into bits. Scatter the parsley over the top and serve with: diced tomatoes, diced cucumber, tzatziki sauce (greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt and chopped fresh mint), hot sauce, sweet hot pickles. Slice pitas in half and stuff with filling.