“Shish (or cis) kebab – skewered pieces of cubed meat – is commonplace to all the cuisines across the Levant and Middle East,” explains Josh Katz, founder of Middle Eastern barbecue joint, Berber & Q.
“Most chicken shish kebabs will use breast meat, which is lean but lacks the juiciness and flavour of thigh meat. I use thigh meat, but feel free to use whichever you prefer.”
Buttermilk chicken shish kebab with quick lemon pickle and oregano
- 100 ml buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp garlic or olive oil
- 1 tbsp hot red pepper paste (biber salcasi)
- 1 lemon grated zest and juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 onion sliced
- 8 chicken thighs deboned, skinned and quartered
- 2 green peppers deseeded and cut into chunks
- 2 red peppers deseeded and cut into chunks
- 1 red onion peeled and quartered
- 4 thin metal skewers approximately 40–45cm long
To garnish and serve
- pitas or flatbread
- 2 tbsp garlic or olive oil plus extra to brush
- 1 tbsp thinly sliced spring onion
- 1 tbsp picked oregano leaves
- 12 confit garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp Quick-preserved Lemon Pickle (zest of 3 lemons sliced into thin strips, cooked in the juice of the 3 lemons for 12-15 minutes until tender, then cooled – makes 30g)
- garlic sauce
- Middle Eastern slaw (or standard coleslaw)
- Make the buttermilk chicken shish. Put the buttermilk, spices, garlic, garlic oil, hot red pepper paste, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and onion in a bowl and stir together to combine.
- Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and massage the mixture into the chicken to ensure it’s evenly distributed and well coated. Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for four to six hours or preferably overnight.
- Skewer the chicken pieces intermittently with the red and green pepper and the red onion. Set a barbecue up for single-zone, direct grilling (this basically means you place your meat on the rack directly above a large bed of burning coals; open the bottom vents if your barbecue has them) – ensuring that you are cooking on medium-hot embers. Grill the skewers directly over the burning coals, turning frequently to ensure both sides are well coloured and the chicken is cooked all the way through when checked with a knife (or to an internal temperature of 70°C or above when probed with a thermometer).
- Brush the pitas or flatbreads with a little olive oil mixed with a few drops of water, and warm through briefly on the grill. They can be placed directly on top of the skewers if there isn’t sufficient room in the barbecue.
- Remove the pitas and transfer to a serving platter. Place the skewered chicken thighs atop, brushed with olive oil. Scatter the spring onion and oregano leaves liberally over the skewers, along with the confit garlic cloves and lemon pickle. This kebab is great served with garlic sauce, coleslaw and pickles of choice.
Berber & Q by Josh Katz, photography by James Murphy, is published by Ebury Press.
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