Yogurt Marinated Chicken, Lebanese-Style Garlic Sauce, Harissa Sauce and Pickled Turnips come together for the ultimate healthy Middle Eastern Feast at home.
Marinated Chicken – for grilling
Lebanese-Style Garlic Sauce
Karen’s Quick Harissa Sauce
Mediterranean food is certainly popular, yet the culinary traditions of the Middle East offers a range of delicious and unusual dishes, each reflecting the diversity of the region. Various meats and vegetables are also included in this diet which incorporates heavy use of olive oil and a diverse variety of pungent, aromatic spices.
There is something special about what yogurt does to chicken in its smoky, sizzling time over charcoal, or even indoors on a seasoned grill pan. It imparts a tangy flavor that lifts all the other flavorings. It tenderizes… that way they stay juicy, briny, and flavorful. On grilled chicken, yogurt’s clingy consistency delivers a bonus in the form of an extra-thick, flavorful coating.
Adding flavor is one big reason to marinate foods. And in countries like Turkey, Persia and India, where yogurt is an important part of the cuisine, it’s a common marinade component.
Here is my version of a similar dish: Shish taouk or tawook (chicken kebab) – a Lebanese staple. It is quite a common chicken bbq dish in virtually every Middle Eastern country, and a popular street-food. The secret is in the marination. Spices and flavorings may vary quite a lot.
I serve the chicken over grilled pita breads with a hearty schemer of a Lebanese-Style Garlic Sauce, a paste made easy in a small food processor – mine with the addition of a little steamed potato, insures the sauce does not break, and tames the garlic’s pungency a bit.
Top the chicken with slices of pickled turnips, cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley.
A healthy dish with all these veggies add-ons! Serve some extra Garlic Sauce on the side.
The marinade is simple, blend together yogurt, garlic, ginger, evoo, lemon juice, salt & pepper and harissa.* Add sliced chicken breasts and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours… or better yet, overnight.
I thread the chicken on soaked bamboo skewers and grill indoors on a hot grill pan, or outdoors on a grill.
* Harissa sauce’s main ingredients are chili peppers, red bell pepper, caraway seeds, cumin and extra virgin olive oil. Can alter the spiciness… the pungent and earthy flavor of the caraway seeds make it special.. and quite versatile.
On grilled chicken, yogurt’s clingy consistency delivers a bonus in the form of an extra-thick, flavorful coating.
In Middle Eastern marinades, yogurt is often paired with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and a few simple spices, or with red pepper paste and mint… hallmark flavors.
You must try this Lebanese-Style Garlic Sauce – a bold alternative to mayonnaise!
Called “toum” – this pungent garlic flavor was quite intense, pairs delightfully with many grilled foods.
Put it on everything you eat! Because Lebanon is a melting pot, the countries that surround it have similar cuisines. Israeli and Greek food are noticeably similar to Lebanese cuisine.
Harissa Sauce is an ubiquitous as ketchup is in America. Its cousin, the Thai hot sauce Sriracha, – is Tunisia’s main condiment. A widely used staple in North African, Moroccan and Middle Eastern cooking. Adds zing to the marinade.
Like the more familiar Mediterranean diet, the Middle Eastern version emphasizes healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains, and fruits and veggies, along with scant red wine and sugar. But it also offers tempting flavors not found in southern European food, such as rich spices, tangy fruits, and healthy seeds.
Enjoy the flavors of the Middle East,