Culinary Corner: Chicken Shawarma with homemade Naan


Mr. Hartman, Adviser

Chicken Shawarma with Homemade Naan and Israeli Salad

This grilled feast is a summertime favorite in our house. I have made this for Mother’s Day, for my wife’s birthday (in July) and most recently for my daughter’s 25th birthday celebration (in early June). This is not a quick or easy recipe but the effort is so very worth it in the end.

So, if you have ever wondered what shawarma is or how to make it yourself, read on.

Ingredients for chicken:

4 or 5 lbs of boneless skinless chicken (I usually use thighs but I had a lot of chicken breasts in the freezer so I used a combination of breasts and thighs this time), cut into strips.

4 tbsp cumin
4 tbsp coriander
8 tbsp garlic powder
4 tsp salt
4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cayenne pepper (we like spicy if you prefer less ‘zing’ reduce this to 1 tsp)
2 tsp all spice
3/4 cup olive oil.

Recipe for Chicken:

Combine all spices together with the olive oil and mix thoroughly. Then pour over the chicken and coat the chicken completely with the marinade. For this step I use arguably the best kitchen utensil, my hands. I want each piece of chicken to be completely covered in marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours up to 48 hours. I usually take the chicken out at least once or twice during this time to mix the chicken up, then I cover it again and return it to the fridge.

When ready to grill, remove chicken from the fridge, cut into pieces and then place on skewers. Fire up the grill (I use charcoal exclusively but this recipe can easily be done on a gas grill). Allow the coals to heat completely, while the grill is at its hottest I will grill the naans (see below). After the naan is grilled, I will cover the grill and allow the coals to cool down to medium heat (about ten to fifteen minutes for the coals to cool sufficiently).

I like the dish a little smokier so, before I place the kababs on the grill, I will place a piece of apple wood directly onto the coals, then replace the grill grate, and then place the skewers on the grill and cover again. I will keep an eye on the kababs early on in the process to make sure they are not burning. This is a dish that should be cooked at a slightly slower pace ad a slightly lower temp. After about fifteen or so minutes, I will turn the kababs, I have a pair of welder’s gloves I use for grilling, but if you want to be like a normal person and use tongs I suppose that would work too.

The kababs will take anywhere from 35-45 minutes depending on the grill temps. Remove from grill when the chicken is cooked through (internal temp of 180 degrees) and allow the kababs to rest for at least seven minutes before serving. For fixins’ we like olives and fetta cheese, but feel free to get creative. We also make an Israeli salad to go on the side.


Ingredients for Naan:

4 – cups bread flower

1 – packet rapid rise yeast

2 – tbsp granulated sugar

1 3/4 cups – full fat plain yogurt (or whole milk as a substitute)

1 – stick butter melted



Combine dry ingredients and whisk together (or place in a stand mixer with the whisking attachment). Add yogurt or milk and combine using the dough hook (if using a stand mixer) or just incorporate the ingredients by hand in a large bowl until a dough begins to form. Turn the dough out onto a flowered surface and knead the dough ball for five minutes. Form into a ball, place into a large bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size (about two hours).

Turn the dough out once again onto a flowered surface and using a knife (or bench scraper) to divide the dough into between 10 and 12 individual pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and cover again to let rise for another hour. Then, using a rolling pin, roll out very thin pieces. Stack the naans one atop the other being sure the flower the pieces so that they don’t stick when stacked.

Fire up the grill and allow the coals to come completely up to temp. If using a gas grill these should definitely be made on your highest possible heat setting. Place two to three naans at a time on the grill, BE WARNED: these will only take about fifteen to twenty seconds on the hot grill so be ready to grill them all very quickly and in batches. After about six to ten seconds, flip the naans once. After another six to ten seconds, the individual pieces will be cooked and ready to come off the grill. Work the rest of the naans through in groups of three. When finished, cover the grill so that the coals can begin cooling down for the chicken.