Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

May 26, 2017

© Jody Horton

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Chicken charmoula skewers

Flavouring chicken with a classic marinade from northern Africa

Feel free to make plenty of the marinade: it works great on all types of seafood as well as red meat. Serve the skewers with the classic Greek tzatziki.

For the tzatziki


1 c. (250 ml) plain Greek yogurt
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) minced garlic
¼ c. (60 ml) minced fresh dill
juice from ½ lemon
⅛ tsp. (0.5 ml) salt
⅛ tsp. (0.5 ml) freshly ground white pepper

For the skewers


2 lbs. (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breast
1½ c. (375 ml) olive oil
¼ c. (60 ml) fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 tbsp. (30 ml) minced garlic
2 tsp. (10 ml) ground cumin
2 tbsp. (30 ml) paprika
¼ tsp. (1.25 ml) cayenne
1½ tsp. (7.5 ml) salt
1 tsp. (5 ml) ground allspice
⅓ c. (80 ml) chopped fresh cilantro leaves
⅓ c. (80 ml) chopped fresh Italian parsley
16 bamboo skewers, 6 to 8 in. (15 to 20 cm) long


To prepare the tzatziki, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

To prepare the chicken skewers, cut the chicken into 32 strips, about 1 ounce (30 g) each and place in a glass or ceramic mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt, allspice, cilantro and parsley. Pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure the chicken is covered. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Soak the skewers in water so they don’t burn when cooking. Prepare the grill (or use a good grill pan or your broiler for high-heat cooking as a substitute). Remove the bamboo skewers from the water and thread 2 chicken strips lengthwise on each. Set the threaded skewers on a clean platter as you work. Place the skewers on the grill and cook over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes on each side or until completely cooked through. Serve the chicken skewers with the tzatziki. Makes 16 skewers (or serves 4).

Chef’s note

Charmoula (sometimes also written and pronounced as “chermoula”) is a marinade used in North African cooking. It typically contains olive oil, herbs, garlic, lemon and cumin or coriander. It’s most commonly used with fish and seafood, but as this recipe shows, it makes a fine marinade for chicken, too.

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