It’s All Greek To Me: Chicken Shwarma with Tzatziki Sauce (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce)

When people think of Mediterranean food, they often think of healthy, fresh fare.  Greek food is delicious, tasty and surprisingly easy to make at home.  For some reason however, I don’t think Greek food has made its way into most kitchens in the United States as other have Mediterranean cuisines like Italian food.

Perhaps the reason Greek food is not more popular with home cooks is because the spices are a little foreign and may not be very understood.

The recipe for Chicken Shwarma (roughly chicken or poultry with garlic and spices on pita bread) contains two key spices, tumeric and curry powder.  Tumeric providees the yellowish color to chicken shwarma, and is sort of a wonder spice in that it contains anti-inflammatory properties.  If you check the label of anti-inflammation supplements or enzymes, chances are you will find tumeric as an ingrediant.

Curry powder differs by manufacturer, but often has a combination of coriander, fenugreek, cumin, red pepper and tumeric (there’s that tumeric again!).  As long as you purchase it from a good brand, the exact variation should not matter too much.

The combination of curry powder and tumeric makes an incredible marinade for Chicken Shwarma, one that will break your typical stuck-in-a-rut chicken weekdy routine.

Ingredients for Chicken Shwarma:

  • 2 teaspoon Curry Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Tumeric
  • 6 – 7 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or half a large lemon)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

5 – 6 chicken breasts or 2.5 pounds chicken tenders

Tzatziki – Cucumber Yogurt Greek Sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt
  • ½ cup feta cheese (get good feta!)
  • ¼ cucumber
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dill, rough chopped
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine the juice of one lemon (or half a very large lemon), tumeric, curry powder, 6 – 7 cloves of garlic and extra virgin olive oil in a food processor.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add extra olive oil as needed to bring marinade together.  (if you do not have a food processor, just mince garlic extra fine and hand whisk ingredients together in a mixing bowl).

Clean and pound chicken breasts.  A great time-saving tip, place saran wrap or parchment paper on top of cutting board and place chicken on top.  Place another layer on top of chicken and then pound.  Trust me, this will make this recipe much simpler!  Then cut chicken into long strips about ½ inch across.

If you can find chicken tenders at the store, they will save you time.  Chicken often goes on sale at the grocery store every few months for half off, and this is a great time to stock up!

Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour marinade on top.  Place in the refrigerator overnight or in the morning before work.

Remove chicken from the fridge half an hour before you want to cook.

To prepare Tzatziki Sauce – mince garlic and cucumber, and chop dill.  Fold into Greek yogurt.  Crumble feta juice, add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.  Place in fridge to chill and come together.

Slice onion and bell peppers into strips about ½ inch long.  Saute on medium heat in olive oil until tender but still retaining some crunch, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Grill chicken on a grill pan indoors or on a bbq outdoors.  Cook on medium for about 4-5 minutes per side.

Heat pita bread in the oven for a few minutes at 350.  Enjoy!

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Filed under MomMe's Recipes by Rachel, Rachel's Favorite Things

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