Juicy chicken shawarma marinated in spiced yogurt then grilled is a delicious dinner served wrapped in easy flatbread with crunchy vegetables.
Shawarma (Or Schwarma as it is most often called in South Africa) is one of our favorite things to eat. When we were still dating, my husband and I would often go to the local schwarma-place where he lived to indulge in giant wraps stuffed with the juiciest grilled meat, pickles, garlic sauce and crunchy vegetables. To this day, I know the way to treat him his to get him a really good shawarma. I decided to make my own a while ago and I have to say, this chicken shawarma ticks ALL the boxes.
Shawarma is meat (most often beef, lamb or chicken) is stacked on a vertical spit and grilled low and slow, often all day long. The meat is carved off the side of the spit and served in pita bread or flatbread with your choice of vegetables, sauces, pickles, etc. As I didn’t have the option to cook the chicken for long on a vertical spit, I wanted to replicate the juiciness and flavor in a simple way. Something we could all do at home. And so I decided to marinated the chicken in spiced yogurt. I used boneless, skin-on chicken thighs and baked them in a really hot oven with the top grill on to really caramelize the skin.
The end result was chicken SO juicy and delicious, we all ate our fair-share before the slices even made it into our shawarmas.
How to make chicken shawarma
Marinated boneless, skin-on chicken thighs in a mixture of plain Greek yogurt and spices for 30 minutes – 1 hour. (The longer the better but even as little as 30 minutes will work wonders.) Pre-heat your oven to its hottest temperature, turning the top element/grill on if needed. Place the chicken onto a large baking sheet/oven dish and bake until cooked through with the skin nicely caramelized. Remove from the oven and slice. Serve in flatbread or warmed pita bread with garlic sauce, pickles and fresh vegetables of your choice.
What’s the difference between pita bread and flatbread?
Flatbread is a thin, flat bread (usually unleavened) cooked on a hot cooking surface/pan until charred and blistered. Pita bread is soft, leavened bread that often has a pocket which can be stuffed with grilled meat and vegetables.
How to make easy flatbread
Combine flour, baking powder, salt and garlic powder (optional) then stir in plain yogurt, vegetable oil and milk. The yogurt and milk will keep the flatbread soft and pliable once cooked. Knead into a smooth dough then wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Break tennis-ball sized balls off of the dough and roll into thin rounds on a floured surface. Cook in a hot pan until the dough starts to bubble then flip and cook for another minute on the other side. Brush with melted butter (optional) and keep warm until ready to serve.
What to serve with shawarma
Chicken shawarma with easy flatbread
For the chicken shawarma
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp chilli/red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 kg boneless, skin-on chicken thighs
For the easy flatbread
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder (optional)
- ½ cup plain/Greek yogurt
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¾-1 cup milk
For the garlic yogurt sauce
- 1 cup plain/Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- 2-3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pickles of your choice
- fresh vegetables of your choice (tomatoes, cucumber, avocado work well)
- Mix all the marinade ingredients together then pour over the chicken and allow to marinate for 30 mins - 1 hour.
- In the meantime, mix together the dry ingredients for the flatbread then add the yogurt and oil. Add the milk, a little at a time, and mix until a rough dough starts to form. You might not need all the milk. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it just comes together in a smooth ball. Cover in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 240ºC/460ºF (or as hot as your oven goes) with the top element/grill to caramelize the skin on the chicken.
- Place the chicken in a baking dish/baking sheet in a single layer then place in the oven. Allow the chicken to bake/grill until fully cooked with the skin crisp and caramelized.
- While the chicken is baking, roll tennis-sized balls of dough out onto a floured surface (to around ½cm thick) and cook in a hot pan until golden and bubbling then flip and cook for another minute or two on the other side. Remove from the pan, brush with melted butter (optional) and keep wrapped in foil.
- Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients and mixing well.
- When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and slice.
- Serve the chicken shawarma in the flatbread with vegetables and pickles of your choice drizzled with the garlic sauce.
Plate and bowl from Poetry Stores. This post is not sponsored but I have done campaign work with Poetry before.