Chicken Schwarma with Tahini Sauce
Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika and cinnamon are some of my favorite spices. Combining these pungent seasonings as a dry rub, massaging into cut-up chicken, and then serving this flavorful protein with tahini sauce, makes for a very appealing meal. This spice group contains powerful aromas and flavors but also comprises many powerful health benefits. Together these spices are great sources for many vitamins and minerals and provides antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties among other medicinal effects. My favorite go-to recipes all contain bits and pieces of these uplifting spices, so this uniquely popular combination is a purposeful concoction! The addition of the olives, dates and cabbage contribute to the texture and offset the strength of the spices. The dates bring a natural sweetness to the overall enjoyment.
2 pounds chicken breasts, washed and cut into 2 in. x 3 in. pieces
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup chicken broth
2 strips fresh lemon peel
2 sprigs fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
pinch saffron threads, optional
1 cup pitted green olives
1/2 cup dried pitted whole dates
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional
4 cups finely shredded cabbage
4 to 6 whole wheat pitas, if desired
3 tbsp tahini paste
1½ tbsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp ice water, to thin if too thick
ground black pepper
1. Wash and pat the chicken dry. Combine the cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper in a large plastic bag. Add the chicken to the bag and gently massage the dry spices evenly to coat each piece. Meat should season chicken for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in two batches (if necessary), and then transfer to a platter. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and cook the garlic and onion until browned and translucent. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil. Return chicken to the pot along with the lemon peel, thyme, bay leaf and saffron, mix well. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Add the olives and dates to the pot. Cover and cook until the chicken is very tender, about 30 minutes longer. As the chicken becomes very tender, shred with a fork into finer pieces and mix well with juices. Remove lemon peel and bay leaf before serving.
3. I have various ways of serving this dish. The chicken can be served in pita bread accompanied by cabbage, a tomato-cucumber salad (Israeli salad) with tahini sauce or my favorite version is simply served as a salad. Arrange shredded cabbage on the plates, pour the chicken mixture over the cabbage (sauce too), sprinkle chopped coriander and drizzle tahini sauce over the top. Each bite is full of zing and zest!
Combine the tahini paste in a small bowl with the lemon juice, garlic and a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper. Continue to whisk in ice cold water until the consistency of honey is achieved.