Yogurt marinade is a gentle way to tenderize chicken compared with an acidic marinade made from citrus and vinegar. The yogurt’s creamy consistency creates a crust around the grilled chicken shawarma as it caramelizes on the grill.

If you have only Greek yogurt lying around, simply mix it with a few tbsp. water to thin it out. If you prefer to cook indoors, this easy chicken shawarma recipe also works well in a cast iron skillet. — Andy Baraghani

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Shawarma-Spiced Grilled Chicken with Cucumber Borani and Juicy Tomatoes

Serves 4


Main course

Cook Time: 10min

Prep Time: 80min

About this recipe:

Start to finish: 1 hour, 30 minutes (1 hour marinating, 30 minutes active time)

  • 5 garlic cloves, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups (591 mL) plain full-fat yogurt (not Greek), divided
  • 4 tbsp. (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for grill
  • 1 tbsp. (5 grams) ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. (5 grams) smoked paprika, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp. (1.8 grams) ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 lb. (0.7 kg) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 medium cucumber, such as Persian
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lb. (0.45 kg) small tomatoes (cherry or Sun Gold), some halved and some left whole
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (26 grams) mint or parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup (41 grams) toasted pistachios or walnuts, coarsely chopped
Do ahead:

You can make the yogurt sauce 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

  1. In a large bowl, finely grate 4 garlic cloves. Add 1/2 cup (119 mL) yogurt, 2 tbsp. (30 mL) oil, coriander, paprika, and turmeric and whisk until smooth.
  2. Add chicken thighs, then season with salt and toss to coat.
  3. Set aside for 1 hour, or cover and chill for up to 24 hours, flipping halfway. If you're chilling ahead of time, remove chicken from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before grilling.
  4. Prepare grill for medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess marinade drip back into the bowl before discarding. Place chicken on grill and turn it every minute until it begins to char, about 8 to 10 minutes total. If chicken sticks to grill, wait longer before flipping.
  5. Meanwhile, into a medium bowl, grate cucumber and remaining garlic clove.
  6. Add zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, saving the other half for the salad. To do this, use a microplane to zest half the lemon into the bowl. Then, cut the lemon in half and squeeze out about 1 tbsp. (15 mL) juice.
  7. Add the remaining 2 cups (474 mL) yogurt to the bowl, season with salt, and stir. You can also add a dash of paprika, if you'd like.
  8. In another large bowl, toss together tomatoes, onion, mint, and nuts. Squeeze juice from remaining lemon half over mixture and add remaining 2 tbsp. (30 mL) oil. Season with salt and give everything a good toss.
  9. Serve chicken with yogurt sauce and salad. Add lemon wedges to squeeze over, if desired.