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.
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.
Yield: 1/2 cup
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.
Recipe courtesy Clifford A. Wright, Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors d'Oeuvres, Meze, and More, Harvard Common Press, 2003