>> Friday, April 15, 2011
You can always find yogurt (greek or plain) hiding somewhere in my fridge. It’s a staple in our house like salt and pepper. And I’d like to think that there are almost as many uses for yogurt akin to salt and pepper. There’s so many that I can’t even list them all. Or can I? I’ve used yogurt in dips like traditional tzatziki to replacing tahini in my hummus. Yogurt has popped up in my baking of banana breads and soufflés to panna cotta. Often times I substitute yogurt for milk, which I just did over this past weekend in my quick rise cinnamon buns or use it instead of sour cream in cheesecake. Last but not least I can’t forget all the savoury uses for yogurt as well. A good example of that would be the marinade for chicken shawarma (ok so I didn’t list them all, but I get easily distracted).
Like buttermilk for fried chicken, the yogurt lends the chicken a creamy tangy taste after marinating, tenderizing the chicken while keeping the meat nice and moist. I can see why it’s so highly used in Middle Eastern cuisine. If you use low fat versions, you’re also making the marinades healthier without actually having to change the recipe.
Although this recipe takes a bit of time for the chicken to truly absorb the marinade, it can still be done in only a couple of hours, if you're in a time crunch. An alternative to cooking in this the oven would be to use a skillet on the stove top. This would narrow down the amount of marinating time since the sauce will be cooked right in to the chicken, almost like braising it if you will.
So now you know why I always have to have yogurt on hand because you never know what I’ll be craving or in my house, where the yogurt can be hinding in my recipes!
Chicken Shawarma Recipe: (a slight twist from the traditional recipes)
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
In a medium sized mixing bowl, add in yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, allspice, salt and pepper.
Rinse chicken and place in marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, best if it can be left overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350ºF.
Line a 9x13” tray with aluminum foil and place chicken thighs in to the dish. Try to avoid having the chicken overlap.
Cook for roughly 20-25 minutes. If you want the chicken to be slightly brown, turn up the oven to 500ºF and let it cook for 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on your oven, you don’t want to over crisp and burn the chicken.
Remove and serve with garlic sauce (recipe below), hot sauce, warm pita, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, onions. Whatever you enjoy on your shawarmas!
Garlic Sauce Recipe: (Not for the faint of heart)
1 bulb of garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp low fat yogurt
If you want a milder garlic sauce, roast the garlic bulb before hand. Place garlic in 350ºF oven for roughly 15 minutes or until garlic is soft and butter-like.
Place the garlic in a good processor and puree until smooth. Add a bit of olive oil at a time until you get a white creamy texture. Mix in salt and lemon juice. Dependent on the texture of the sauce you might only want to add in one tbsp of the yogurt to lighten up the sauce or if you like a thinner sauce, add in all the yogurt. Mix and serve with shawarma.