Food on sticks is the best. Especially if it’s marinated, grilled meat. This recipe is all about flavor and these skewers of well seasoned chicken marinated for hours in a citrusy yogurt sauce will make you feel like you’ve arrived in the circuit of chefs. To be honest, these are so easy to make, but the spices and yogurt marinade give it an elevated flavor. Serving them for a dinner or brunch could get you applause from those lucky enough to enjoy the meal.
Prepping a day ahead, the meal comes together rather quickly. If you can’t marinate the chicken overnight, giving the chicken at least 4 hours in the marinade helps bring all the flavors together. In addition to the chicken marinade recipe, I’ve offered several recipes in this post for the harissa, the yogurt sauce and the suggested pickled onions. Please don’t be put off by this and decide not to try these skewers. If you would rather buy the harissa, yogurt sauce and omit the onions, please do!! it will still be delicious. It’s grilled meat on a stick! 🙂
Makes 6 to 8 skewers (approximately 14″ long)
FOR the CHICKEN & MARINADE
- 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into 2″ pieces (you can smaller pieces if desired, but all pieces should be the same size for even cooking)
- 1-1/2 C full fat Greek yogurt, plus more for mint yogurt sauce
- 1/4 C fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 C fresh organic orange juice
- 2 T fresh organic orange zest
- 6 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
- 2 T toasted cumin
- 1 T toasted coriander
- 1-1/2 T Kosher salt
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T organic sugar
- 2 large red onions, quartered and then cut again in half (to achieve bite size pieces)
In a medium size mixing bowl, add yogurt, lemon and orange juices, orange zest, minced garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, olive oil and sugar. Mix well. Once incorporated, add cut chicken pieces and coat well. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for 4 hours and up to 12 hours. Cut onion and put in ziplock until ready to thread skewers.
FOR THE MINT YOGURT SAUCE
- 1 C full fat Greek yogurt
- 1 T fresh organic lemon zest
- 1/3 C fresh organic mint, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh garlic, minced
- 2 T honey
- 1 tsp hot sauce (optional)
in a small mixing bowl, add all ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This can be made two days in advance.
Skewering and grilling chicken
You’ll need approximately 8 to 10 skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for about 20 minutes. Before skewering it’s recommended to test one piece of chicken for seasoning. In a small saute pan, add a tsp of olive oil and cook chicken on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Thread the chicken and red onion length wise onto skewers, in any order you like. We did 2 pieces of chicken, then one piece of onion cut in 1/8’s, and repeat so that each skewer ends up with several clusters of onion and at least 8 pieces of chicken.
FOR THE HARISSA
If you do not want to make the harissa, store-bought is fine. You can find harissa at most markets now.
- 12 dried Guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 2 tsp. caraway seeds
- 2 tsp. coriander seeds
- 2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 whole star anise
- 1/4 C good extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 4 cloves fresh garlic
- 1-1/2 tsp paprika
- 2 T fresh organic mint, chopped
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp organic lemon zest
- 1 whole roasted red bell pepper
- 2 Medjool dates (or you can use 1 tsp organic honey)
- 1/3 C chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 2 T chile soaking liquid
Put chiles into a medium bowl, cover with boiling water for about 30 minutes. You may need to use a weighted lid on the chilis to keep them submerged. In a medium sauce’ or cast iron pan on medium-low heat, add caraway, coriander, cumin and anise and toast for about 8 minutes. Continually check seeds, swirling the pan to move the seeds in the pan and avoid burning. Once toasted remove from pan onto plate or bowl, cool and transfer to a grinder. Grind to a fine powder and set aside until you are ready to blend other ingredients.When peppers are fully rehydrated, transfer to a blender (reserving some of the soaking liquid), add in olive oil, garlic, paprika, mint, lemon juice and zest, roasted bell pepper, dates, sun-dried tomatoes, rose water, salt, 2 T chili soaking liquid and your spice blend of caraway, coriander, cumin and star anise. Blend until fully incorporated and smooth. You can add more teaspoons of olive oil or soaking liquid if it appears too thick. It should have a fairly thick consistency much like a chile paste.To store, spoon harissa into a jar, seal and store for up to one month.
- Consider the addition of grilled flatbread, grilled vegetables, maybe some aromatic buttery basmati and pickled red onion to make the meal more of a feast!
- Skewering vegetables such as zucchini, red bell pepper or mushrooms with the chicken is always a great idea. When we do this, we cut the chicken pieces smaller so the cook time aligns with the vegetable cook time
Sirke Wale Pyaaz (pickled red onion)
We love pickled anything. If you’d like to consider an addition to this skewered meat dish, pickled red onion goes very well as a nosh on the side. Not to skewer with chicken and grill, but a simple, flavorful garnish that goes perfectly with the heat from the harissa and the sweetness of the yogurt sauce. The recipe is below:
- 1 large red onion. sliced
- 1/4 C white vinegar
- 1/2 C water
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp organic sugar
- 1 star anise, toasted and crushed
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- pinch of red chili flakes (optional)