Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area was a great experience! One of the best things about this area is cultural diversity. I was fortunate enough to grow up living across the street from a Lebanese family and I LOVED eating at their house! I love my mom, but she was not known for her cooking talents. Eating at our neighbor’s house introduced me to some new, exotic flavors; garlic (LOTs of it!), olive oil, plain yogurt, cumin, etc.
I’ve been craving some of those exotic flavors and decided to try my hand at making them. I didn’t have the recipes, so I hit the internet and found a great website that helped me satisfy my cravings; mamaslebanesekitchen.com. All credit for the recipe’s mentioned in this post go to that Lebanese Mama!!!
At my neighbor’s, I remember eating this boldly seasoned chicken with a garlic sauce. I think at that time the garlic sauce was more of a garlic paste, but I had a bunch of plain yogurt left after making the chicken marinade, I thought I would use it to make a Laban sauce. With the combination of yogurt, cucumber, lemon and mint, this was a very cool and refreshing sauce that complemented the Tawook chicken very well.
Tawook chicken is usually served as kabobs. I didn’t feel like going through all the work of making kabobs, so I just grilled the whole thighs that I marinated and then cut up the meat. We ate it in pita bread with tomatoes, onion and the Laban sauce. It was delicious this way as well!
2 lbs of skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into cubes/Kabab chunks
1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
a small slice of lemon with the peel (optional, don’t put too much)
15 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 table spoons of plain yogurt (Greek yogurt)
6 table spoons of olive oil
2 table spoons of red vinegar (apple cider vinegar)
1.5 to 2 teaspoons of ground white pepper
⅓ teaspoon of ground ginger spice
½ teaspoon of ground thyme, or ground oregano
⅓ teaspoon of paprika
1+ teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
½ to 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
Mix all ingredients well together while rubbing the chicken
Place in a container, cover, and let rest/marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours
Skewer the chicken right before grilling
Grill on medium heat for 12-18 minutes maximum
As soon as you remove them from the grill, place them in a big warm pot, replace the lid tightly, and let rest for 8-10 minutes – this helps the chicken become more moist (this step is optional)
4 persian cucumbers (or equivalent), finely chopped
4 cups of plain yogurt
1/2 cup of water
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a few leaves of green mint finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon of dried mint powder
a dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
In a bowl, whisk the yogurt, water, crushed garlic, salt and lemon juice well. If you’re preparing this in summer, you can add 2-3 ice cubes in the mix to cool the yogurt and make it even more refreshing
Finely Chop the cucumbers into cubes of ~ 1/3 inches, add to the mixing bowl
Add the finely chopped green mint or the dried mint powder and salt, mix well
Serve in small soup bowls as an appetizer or snack, enjoy and thank the Lord! 🙂