Saturday, May 5, 2012

Shish Tawook – Middle East Meal, Part 1

Shish Tawook translated means skewered chicken. From the Middle East, this dish is made with chicken tenderized by a yogurt-based marinade and pan-fried or grilled until slightly charred.

Food Lust People Love: Shish Tawook translated means skewered chicken. From the Middle East, this dish is made with chicken tenderized by a yogurt-based marinade and pan-fried or grilled until slightly charred.

When we first moved to Kuala Lumpur a long, long time ago, our daughters took piano lessons from a lovely lady we called Aunty Esther at a small but busy studio behind the Ampang Point Mall. So I got to go there at least once a week.  Which became twice a week when younger daughter decided to also continue her violin lessons. 

I would make sure they were safely in class, then mill around for an hour.  One day, right outside the supermarket Giant, I happened to meet the owner of a little food stand called Tarbush. They sold shawarmas – chicken and lamb – and we had a great discussion of the Middle East (I had lived in Abu Dhabi years before and he was from Lebanon.) I told him he needed to start selling some of the other delicious foods from that area, like falafel and hummus and tabouli. He was just starting out but said he was planning to expand one day soon. 

If you live in KL or have traveled there, you know his dream came true!  He started by opening a proper restaurant there in Ampang Point and there are now Tarbush restaurants in several high profile locations.  Our favorite was still Ampang Point though, because it was so close to home and school. Sadly, I don’t remember his name but I like to think we played a small part in his success by our frequent patronage of his fledgling restaurant chain.

Once the restaurant opened, younger daughter always, and I mean always, got the shish tawook.   I made it the other night, thinking about her and mentally wishing her well in these final weeks of her freshman year at RISD.  Even though she is now a vegetarian.  Never mind that, her daddy and I loved it.  It's the thought that counts, right?

1/4 cup or 60ml plain yogurt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons or 45ml fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon flakey sea salt
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Put all the ingredients except the chicken into a Ziploc bag and mix well. 

Clean the extra fat and sinews off of the breasts and cut them into bite-sized pieces.   Pop them in the bag with the marinade and massage it until the chicken is well-coated.  Let this marinate for as long as you have or at least one hour.

When you are ready to cook the shish tawook, push the chicken pieces on to some wooden skewers and heat a non-stick skillet till very hot.  

Put the chicken on and cook for several minutes.  Turn the skewers over when they are well-browned.

Cook for a few more minutes until both sides are browned and the chicken is cooked through.   

Tarbush served this with French fries and a divine garlic mayonnaise.  I try not to fry food at home so I made tabouli and hummus (Stand by for Middle East Meal, Parts 2 and 3*) and served these and the chicken with some Lebanese flatbread from the supermarket.  I suggest you do the same.

[Pretend there is a photo of the finished dish here, okay? Somehow I forgot to take one.]


Looking for part two and part three of the Middle East meal?

Part 2: Tabouli

Part 3: Hummus 


  1. Mmm..just catching up on my backlog of blogs to read, and this looks fabulous - I'm trying it this week! I already make my own hummus, but I'm looking forward to seeing if you put anything different in yours. (We find hummus a bit bland sometimes, and have found that a generous dash of Sricha (rooster sauce) spices it up nicely - husband *is* an LSU boy, you know!) ; )

  2. I don't add anything unusual to it but I am rather generous with the garlic. Also, I must confess that we like to spread our Lebanese flatbread with homemade habanero pepper sauce (This potent stuff: before we spread it with hummus and add the skewered chicken and tabouli. We love our spicy over here too!


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