Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs
The chicken is marinated in a tangy and rich Middle Eastern-style marinade of Greek yogurt, lemon, garlic and spices, and then grilled until golden brown. It’s delicious served over a bed of golden basmati rice pilaf with dried fruits and almonds (as pictured above…recipe coming soon) or on top of a Greek salad.
Begin by combining the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. You’ll see that there’s a good bit of crushed red chili flakes in the recipe. I love the heat, but you can always cut back a little if you prefer.
Next, prepare the chicken. I’ve specified boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. They’re more flavorful than chicken breasts, and easier to cook without drying out. I know some people prefer white meat (my husband included) but I’d urge you to try the chicken thighs — I’ve made it both ways, and it’s far superior with dark meat.
The only drawback to using chicken thighs is that they need to be trimmed of any excess fat and gristle before you use them. I think it’s easiest to use kitchen shears, as opposed to a knife. (Note that there’s a fair amount of waste with the thighs — that’s why the recipe calls for 2-1/2 pounds of dark meat versus 2 pounds of white meat.) Using the scissors, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and then thread onto skewers alternating occasionally with the red onions.
Place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with foil, and then spoon or brush the marinade over top, making sure to coat well. Cover and let the kebabs sit in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight — the longer the better.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, grease well, and then grill the kebabs until golden brown. As you can see, the yogurt makes a thick marinade that adheres to the chicken and creates a flavorful crust as it cooks.
This is a good one…Enjoy!
Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs
- 1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (reduce to 1/2 teaspoon if you don't like heat)
- Zest from one lemon
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
- 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (or 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts), trimmed of any excess fat and cut into large bite-sized pieces
- 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
- Vegetable oil, for greasing the grill
- In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, olive oil, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic.
- Thread the chicken onto metal skewers, folding if the pieces are long and thin, alternating occasionally with the red onions. Be sure not to cram the skewers. (Note: You'll need between 6-8 skewers.) Place the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spoon or brush the marinade all over the meat, coating well. Cover and refrigerate at least eight hours or overnight.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. To grease the grill, lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over the grates several times until glossy and coated. Grill the chicken kebabs until golden brown and cooked through, turning skewers occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the skewers to a platter and serve.