March 4, 2013
Alongside lamb chops, lamb skewers were what we feasted upon on sundays, succulently barbecued on the charcoal grill my mother lighted in our balcony. Later, barbecuing got banned in big cities, no doubt for a good reason and except for those who own a house with a garden, skewers disappeared from our home cooking and became a treat we occasionally enjoy in kebap houses.
I recently asked myself why would having neither a barbecue nor a balcony or the permit to use them simultaneously even if I had, stand in the way to resurrecting that homey feeling of my childhood by making old time skewers with what I have in hand; a pan, couple of mini skewers and chicken. That tahini-honey chicken I was longing to formulate at home would be perfect for the occasion and would be like bread and butter with the sweet sour tabbouleh I could prepare with the season's pomegranates.
Skewers couldn't be without flatbreads and it didn't feel right to buy them from the supermarket. For absolute authenticity I set out to make my own flatbreads and when I figured out how effortless they indeed are to make, I rubbed my hands to the sea of possibilities being able to make them from scratch: from making warm fresh paninis for breakfast, to simple but impressive homemade pizzas in the evening. But first things first.
Skewers are about feasting, gathering and sharing. So first, invite friends over. Then, marinade chicken couple of hours ahead or best, a night before. An hour before you sit for dinner, knead the dough (which literally takes a minute or two) so it can rest for half an hour. In the meantime make the tabbouleh. Then, flatten and cook flatbreads and keep them warm by wrapping in a clean kitchen towel. Grill skewers. Spread some yogurt or sour cream on flatbreads then a spoonful of tabbouleh, top them with chicken. Say cheers and wash those wraps down with half and half pomegranate soda - or better with a beer.
active preparation time*: 10 minutes
total time**: 10 minutes
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
- 1/4 cup fine grind bulgur
- a handful of pomegranate seeds
for the sauce:
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- salt to taste
1) Soak bulgur in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly using a cheese cloth or a sieve.
2) In a cup whisk together pomegranate juice, olive oil and lemon juice.
3) Transfer bulgur, chopped parsley and chopped mint into a salad bowl. Pour over the sauce and add pomegranate seeds. Toss everything together. Add salt to taste.
active preparation time*: 10 minutes
total time**: 30 minutes + 30 minutes resting
makes 9-10 flatbreads
- 2 cups flour, sifted
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon full-fat yogurt
- 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate
- water, a little less than 1 cup
1) Put flour in a bowl, add salt and yogurt. Sprinkle yogurt with bicarbonate. Wait for 1 minute until bubbles form.
2) Gradually add water and knead with your hand for 5 minutes to obtain a soft homogeneous dough. If it ends up too sticky add more flour, if too stiff add more water.
3) Roll the dough into a ball and cover with a clean damp kitchen cloth. Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Dough can be covered in clingfilm and kept in the fridge to be used the next day.)
4) Dispatch walnut size pieces from the dough and flatten them with a rolling pin on a clean, lightly floured surface.
5) Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Cook flatbreads until they slightly change color, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Keep flatbreads covered with a clean kitchen cloth until serving time. If to be used later, wrap them in aluminum foil and heat them up in a 200C/390F preheated oven for 10 minutes before serving.
Tahini Chicken Skewers
active preparation time*: 5 minutes
total time**: 20 minutes + 2 hours or overnight
serves 2 generous portions
- 400 gr chicken breast, cut into 2.5cm/1 inch cubes
- 15-20 mini wooden skewers
For the marinade:
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or grape seed oil
- a non-stick pan large enough to contain skewers
1) Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Toss chicken in the marinade. Cover and chill for two hours or overnight.
2) Thread chicken cubes loosely on skewers. Shake excess.
3) Heat oil over medium-high heat. Transfer skewers into the pan and reduce heat to medium. Grill all sides equally by turning skewers occasionally. Reduce heat to minimum and cover. Let the insides cook for 2-3 minutes. (Do not leave the pan unattended as tahini and honey may easily burn.) Serve with flatbread and tabbouleh.
*Active preparation time indicates the time you are actively working.
**Total time indicates the sum of preparation and cooking times. It excludes marinade and waiting periods which are separately indicated.