Grilled Chicken Kebabs

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.]

Total Time:
6 hr 40 min
Prep:
10 min
Inactive:
6 hr
Cook:
30 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
  • 10 (10-inch) wooden or metal skewers
  • Baharat:
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup allspice berries
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Directions
  • 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.

  • Yield: 1/2 cup


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