I came to kebabs in my late teens and was lucky enough to be introduced to them in what is still my absolute favourite place to eat them, Maroush. An Iranian friend used to drive up there, always very late at night. The only dilemma would be whether to have the lamb or the chicken. It also felt quite glamorous queueing for your kebab on Beauchamp Place!
I still to this day don’t really know which one I prefer. It is one of those taste experiences I will always remember. A complete revelation and an introduction into the world of kebabs but in a sophisticated way. It was the waft of garlic sauce, chargrilled meat and pickled chillies that has stayed with me to this day. Wrapped perfectly in a Lebanese flatbread and packaged in paper that has to be peeled delicately to reveal the joy of joys.
Now, being introduced to such delights did mean that I could never and still have never tasted a Doner kebab. What would be the point? It could never live up to the qualities of my lovely Shish Taouk. The only other place I would visit late at night was The Charcoal Grill in Hammersmith. Their chilli sauce was legendary I seem to remember.
Being in the suburbs now, I don’t get to enjoy the tastes of Maroush but I have decided to re-create my love of shish taouk for the Best of British Challenge hosted by Fiona from London Unattached this month. London of course is the chosen destination and it is my home town. To me this dish represents all that is good about living in such a multi-cultural city and it was the start of a lifelong love of Lebanese food.
The fiery chilli sauce is not something you would find in Maroush but it was made by Mr.Scott from our huge harvest of homegrown chillies. I asked him to make a hot, vinegary chilli sauce just like the Sriracha brand and that is what he did. Not for the faint of heart!
Chicken Kebab (Shish Taouk) with Home-Made Chilli Sauce
Recipe adapted from HERE.
Ingredients :- Serves 2 generously
500g chicken thighs (skinned and boned but chicken breast can also be used)
Juice of 1 lemon
3tbsp Greek yoghurt
3tbsp olive oil
4 large cloves of garlic roughly chopped
1tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2tsp tomato puree
1/2tsp dried oregano
1/4tsp ground ginger
Salad garnish (lettuce, tomato & cucumber)
Pickled chillies (optional)
Home made chilli sauce (Garlic sauce is the tradition)
Wraps/Pittas preferably from a Middle Eastern store who make the best. I tried so hard but failed to source any good ones which is the downside of living in the depths of Surrey!
Marinate all the chicken pieces in the ingredients listed above, up to paprika.
Leave to marinate for a few hours. I left it overnight and I would recommend it. The chicken was so tender and flavoursome.
Cook the chicken by searing it in a very hot pan with a little oil then finishing it off in a pre-heated oven for 10 minutes at 200 degrees.
While the chicken is cooking you can prepare the finely chopped lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber.
Serve the chicken sliced along with the various accompaniments.
There was a tip on the original recipe that suggested leaving the chicken to rest for 10 minutes in a warmed earthenware dish/pan with a lid to ensure extra juicy chicken. I did this and can say it worked a treat. The chicken was seriously good in flavour and it is a recipe I would recommend if you love a tender, lipsmackingly well garlicked piece of chicken.
The chicken would be even better cooked in a griddle pan or on a BBQ. It would also work well on a lean mean grilling machine, which I do own. (It also makes great grilled sandwiches!)