I grew up in Los Angeles and when I was 18 years old, in between my first and second year of college, my family took a trip to Italy and Israel (my dad is Israeli). In Israel I feel in love. With everything. The people, the smells, the food, the beach, the warmth, the feeling. Oh, and my now husband, who I met outside the disco in Club Med in Eilat (southern most city in Israel) exactly ten years ago. I spend my third year of college studying abroad at Tel Aviv University, and it was then, at the age of 20, that I decided that Israel was to be my new home. I finished up my degree, packed an over abundance of unnecessary things (such as shampoo- I was afraid my hair wouldn’t agree with Israeli shampoo- needless to say I’ve grown up since), and moved on in to my then-boyfriend’s apartment with his two amazing roomies in the heart of Tel Aviv.
Seven years later, married and living the suburban life in a Moshav (a kind of new-age farm), there are things associated with Israeli culture which I have completely adapted to and those of which I simply can’t accept as my own, such as the Israeli BBQ. Made up of kabobs, chicken skewers, steaks, hummus and pita- I still prefer a good cheeseburger in a bun or a juicy hotdog with some sauerkraut, ketchup and mustard. But about one month ago, just with the onset of the outdoor BBQ season, something very strange happened to me. Every day for about one week- I was craving the chicken skewers, known as “Shishliks”. This recipe is inspired not only by that one week of craving- but by the fusion of my two culinary world’s, past and present. Enjoy,
A great and easy way to serve this is to prepare all the sides ahead of time and keep in the fridge- make the meat just as the guests come and let everyone make their own souvlaki as desired.
Ingredients for 6-8 servings:
1 kilo chicken thighs, deboned, cubed into 1½-inch pieces and skewered (you can have your butcher do this)
½ cup good quality olive oil
1 lemon+ 4 lemons, halved, for serving
1 head iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, diced
1 large red onion, finely sliced
Salt and fresh ground pepper
For the Tziki:
1 large Persian cucumber, finely grated and drained of excess juice
3 cups natural yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- Place chicken skewers in a large baking dish and cover with olive oil. Squeeze juice of one lemon over chicken. Generously season with fresh ground pepper. Let marinate for at least 2 hours.
- Prepare Tzaziki – In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Taste and season with salt accordingly.
- Prepare the chicken skewers- remove from fridge 30 minutes before grilling. Generously season with salt. Preheat grill on high heat. Place on grill for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally until done on all sides, and cooked from within. Warm tortillas hot dry pan or on the grill while skewers are cooking.
- Once chicken skewers are ready, remove from grill, place on serving platter and squeeze one lemon over skewers.
- Serve chicken skewers hot, on a tortilla with chopped lettuce, tomato and onion. Top with tzaziki. Prepare lemon halves for guests to add more if they choose.