Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shish Taouk

This is for DXBluey, who wanted it so that he could continue to try and set fire to his apartment block by holding illegal barbies on the balcony. If you'd rather something more traditionally 'khaleeji' for Eid, try this!

Shish taouk is one of the mainstays of Levantine cookery and, as such, is claimed by everyone as uniquely theirs. It has to be said, though, the Armenians' claim seems pretty strong given the presence of ingredients like paprika which take us up into that area of the world that borders Georgia and the 'stans' - and the spicy foods that make up so much of their cuisine. However, like much of the food from this rich and fertile corner of the Mediterranean basin, the truth probably lies in a mixture of influences and ideas from all over - and the general agreement that this is damn fine food and therefore cooked by everyone.

This is a 'classic' home recipe taouk - no colourings used here thank you (did you think restaurants did it naturally?) - halve the lemon juice and oil and add a few tablespoons of yoghurt to make a silky, yoghurt marinade. This is traditionally made on flat bladed skewers, but I tend to use bamboo ones. And where I'm grilling rather than barbecuing, I'll line the grill tray with foil to avoid the nasty job of washing up all that burnt-on gook, pushing it down between the bars so that the juices can still collect under the meat. That one idea has saved me more kitchen grief over the years than virtually any thing else I can think of!


  • 4 chicken breasts, cut in 2cm cube
  • 2 lemons, juice and grated zest
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp powdered cumin
  • 2 tsp powdered paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • Lots of black pepper
  • Skewers

Mix everything together well in a bowl to marinate for as long as you can, ideally overnight. Thread onto skewers and grill for 6-8 minutes each side, basting occasionally with left over marinade. And that's it. Serve with a mezze and perhaps follow up with a traditional dessert like muhalabieh (or perhaps a more modern Arab favourite, créme caramel, or a non-traditional eid custard).


DXBluey said...

Hey Alex,

Eid Mubarak to you! Thanks for the mention and the receipe.

Interesting on the origins of the dish and that your receipe has no yoghurt.

This is the one I tried:

2 lb boneless skinless chicken
1/2 c yogurt
1/4 c vinegar
1/2 c lemon juice; fresh
1 1/2 tb catsup
1/4 c olive oil
1 salt to taste
1/2 ts mixed arabic spices

I'm sure yours is much more traditional! (Catsup....)

I used Sumac for the spice. It could have done with more of a kick so the paprika is a good idea.

Ok - fire department at the ready...

Hope both you and HMHB have a good Eid.



halfmanhalfbeer said...

Many thanks Bluey, you too.


Alexander said...

Well, I mentioned the yoghurt option - cut down on the lemon and oil and slap a couple of tablespoons of yog instead. There's an argument whether to/not to use yoghurt: as far as I can see, the 'traditional' recipe woulnd't actually use yoghurt, but it's an accepted variation. If that makes any sense!