I have been trying to make lighter recipes over the past month, instead of the heavy fare that I have been rightfully accused of making. Partly, this is due to my love of experimenting and trying new food: I came to realize that although I might be making a "new" dish every time, it was always the same general genre, and so I had to try to make something new and different. Partly it was after a trip to Senegal, which although I greatly enjoyed, had involved eating a lot of very heavy food during the trip, and thus left me craving lighter food. And partly it was due to family members being on diets, meaning that I had to try to make something lighter.
This Lebanese-inspired dish comes from such a mission, with chicken marinated in yoghurt, mint, garlic, lemon juice, onion, and olive oil producing a delightful savory flavor to the chicken that permeates it and seeps into it. Chicken is aptly called to a cook what a canvas is to a painter, and this lives up to the title, providing an excellent mount for the yoghurt flavor. I try to serve it with pita bread in Lebanese style, but it would go well with plenty of other things as well.
This recipe is an adaption of that which I had found in the book Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood.
- 1 cup plain yoghurt
- 1 grated medium-sized onion
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dried mint
- 1.5-2 pounds chicken
- 5 cloves garlic, optional for garlic sauce
- 1/2 cup olive oil, optional for garlic sauce
- Juice of 1/2 lemon, optional for garlic sauce
- 2-3 tablespoons water, optional for garlic sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional for garlic sauce
- Prepare the chicken for marinating, which you should plan to do 8-24 hours before it is cooked. Mix together the yoghurt, grated onion, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 lemon juice 3 tablespoons olive oil, and 2 tablespoons mint in a bowl. Chop chicken, to 1-2" cubes. Add into bowl, mix well, refrigerate. The longer it refrigerates, the better.
- At some point, prepare the garlic sauce (which is optional, but I personally quite like it). Mince 5 garlic cloves, combine with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and blend in food processor or blender or equivalent. Add in 1/3 cup oil, blend more, then add in water, and the other 1/3 cup oil. This can be preserved up to several weels in refrigerator.
- Begin to prepare coals or broiler for cooking chicken.
- Remove chicken from marinade. Thread onto skewers, and season with salt and pepper (dry off some yoghurt if needed). The marinade can be discarded.
- Grill chicken around 10 minutes on the grill (until there is a bit of blackening), or 20 minutes in the broiler. Serve with the garlic sauce drizzled over it or on the side to be applied.