Shish Tawook is a Lebanese chicken dish that’s simple yet so delicious. Tender chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon and garlic makes it a delicious meal for the whole family.
This is one of my all time favorite recipes, and coming from a person who makes and tests several dishes per day, that says something.
Being an Iranian and from the Middle East, I have a soft spot for everything Middle Eastern and Mediterranean. The flavors and ingredients are like a well conducted symphony that fills the heart with joy and bring smiles to one’s face. The fact that the recipes of these regions are seasonal and fresh makes them even more desirable. Middle Eastern and Mediterranean recipes are elegant like Persian chicken with saffron, flavorful like stuffed eggplants with lamb, and light and healthy like this Greek chickpea salad. They satisfy every taste and preference!
Today’s recipe is a favorite of ours: shish tawook, which I guess most of you have seen on the menu of Lebanese and middle eastern restaurants and it might even be a favorite take out option for some of you? Well, time to save money and even time, this is going to be a favorite recipe of yours too!
What is Shish Tawook?
Shish means skewers and tawook (tavuk) means chicken. Both words are in Turkish however shish tawook is a Lebanese chicken kebab that is sold in fast food restaurants. Shish tawook or, as some may call it, chicken shish, is made with different marinades which all have the same base of lemon, garlic and yogurt.
How to make Shish Tawook?
To make shish tawook, you need boneless skinless chicken breast that has been cut into small pieces, olive oil, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, thyme, sumac, paprika and tomato paste. Mix all the ingredients except chicken in a bowl and then add your mixture to the chicken and mix well. Let the chicken marinate for at least two hours and then start cooking shish tawook using one of the following approaches:
- Stove Top: Heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, place the marinated chicken pieces in the pan and don’t stir. Cook on one side for about three to four minutes, give it a stir and cook for another three to four minutes until they are fully cooked.
- Grill: Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and grill on medium for about 12-15 minutes until fully cooked.
The marinade used for chicken shish kabob recipe is yogurt based which helps tenderize the chicken more quickly. Therefore, the chicken cooks faster and it stays very juicy even though it releases some water as it cooks in the pan. Traditionally, chicken shish should be made on the grill but making them in the pan is sometimes easier depending on where your live or whether you have a grill readily available.
What to serve Shish Tawook with?
- Shish Tawook Sandwich: Place shish tawook on a warm pita and serve with some salad or just lettuce, Lebanese garlic sauce and pickles.
- Shish Tawook Plate: Serve shish tawook with rice, fries or grilled veggies and some salad.
Lebanese food, like all the other Middle Eastern foods has a special place in my heart and I love how all these cuisines and foods from these countries have so much in common. There is a Persian version of this delicious chicken shish that’s called “joojeh kabab” in Farsi, which I will definitely publish in near future.
Notes and tips for making Shish Tawook
- Using tomato paste is completely optional in this recipe but I love the nice color and flavor that it adds to the marinade.
- You can marinade the chicken for up to twelve hours.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and have them with pita and hummus as a sandwich or over salad for a healthy, filling meal.
- I always use nonfat Greek yogurt for this recipe but full fat yogurt if you prefer – it would taste just as good.
- You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs to make shish tawook as well.
Shish Tawook Recipe
- 2 lbs Chicken Breast Bone and skin off
- 1 cup Greek Yogurt
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 5 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Sumac
- 1 tsp Thyme
- Cut the chicken breast into 1 1/2 inch pieces and place them in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, mix Greek yogurt, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, tomato paste, paprika, sumac and thyme.
- Pour the yogurt mixture over chicken pieces and mix well. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours up to eight hours.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmery, place the chicken pieces in the pan but don't over crowd the pan.
- Sear the chicken pieces on one side for 3-4 minutes, then stir and sear the other side until the chicken is fully cooked.
- Serve shish tawook with pita and salad.
- Don't stir the chicken too much while cooking so you can get a nice sear on all sides.
- Shish tawook is originally grilled. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and grill on medium for about 12-15 minutes until fully cooked.
- The chicken might start releasing juice while cooking in the pan, stir the chicken a little bit to help it get more flavor.
- Add a little bit of salt before serving.
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