Isn’t it funny how quickly things can become comfort food?
Before living in Michigan, my Ohio-grown tastebuds had never experienced chicken shawarma. Early on in Husband’s law school years, we discovered a Mediterranean restaurant that was legit cheaper than fast food, just as fast as fast food, and (the best part!) en route home from the law school.
Over the following few years, this became a popular option for the nights our dinner plans fell through, the nights I was too pregnant-tired to even think about lifting more than the one finger required to dial the phone for take-out, or the nights we were just really in the mood for shawarma.
Then we moved to a city in Virginia that seems to be tragically lacking in cheap, quick, conveniently located shawarma, and we both realized how that ultra fragrant and flavorful chicken had started to taste like home to us. Being without it was both sad and unsettling.
So I took to the kitchen to try to recreate that familiar flavor. The goal was to get the spices as close as possible to what we were used to, but also for it to be effortless enough to make that it was at least comparable to ordering take-out.
This is an oven-roasted chicken shawarma that fits the bill in both the flavor and effortlessness categories.
While we work on getting our favorite restaurant to open a location several hundred miles away, this is a satisfying stand-in.
You marinate and bake it all in the same container and it even bakes in the marinade! So once everything is all mixed together, you just have to toss in an onion and bake it.
I like to tell myself that throwing a casserole dish in the oven is just as easy as calling in an order and having Husband deliver it.
Even if it’s not, this satisfies our chicken shawarma cravings between visits back to Michigan, and is so quick and filling that it has earned a frequent spot on our weeknight dinner menu.
We eat it on rice (always) with naan on the side. If I’m really feeling like putting extra effort into dinner, we might even have some hummus or charred veggies or tabbouleh with it, too.
Baked Chicken Shawarma
An easy homemade version of this ultra fragrant and flavorful chicken classic!
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 pounds chicken breast, sliced thin
- 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
In a large oven-safe dish, combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and cinnamon. Add the sliced chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour up to 12 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add the onion to the chicken and toss to combine. Place in oven and roast 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven and serve hot with rice.
Adapted from The New York Times.