I love Middle Eastern food — the intensely aromatic spices, the fresh herbs and vegetables, the creamy tahini and humus… so rich and varied in colors, flavors and textures, yet so simple.
One of the perks of my profession is traveling to different film festivals in places our family might not otherwise have visited — San Sebastian, Capri, St. Petersburg, Abu Dhabi… In 2008, our family spent two weeks in Turkey at the Antalya International Film Festival. It was one of the most special culinary experiences we have ever enjoyed. Turkey was the one country that we never had to mention to the restaurants that Angela was a vegetarian, because there were always a wide variety of tasty vegetables everywhere we went.
Now that the girls are older, it is more difficult for them to join me on trips. Nowadays when I travel, Peter has to stay home to take care of the girls. Last night, he lamented that he hasn’t had a real vacation since our last trip to Europe together in 2013. I promised to bring him back to Turkey someday soon. But tonight, I brought a little bit of Turkey back to him in the form of Levantine cuisine.
Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma
4 chicken thighs
1 red onion, cut into large chunks
Ingredients for Marinade:
Juice from 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
A dash of cinnamon
Parsley for garnish
1 bunch radish
1 long cucumber
8 oz. assorted cherry tomatoes
Mix the marinade and marinate the meat for one hour to twelve hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Mix the marinade, meat and onion together. Layer them on a parchment paper lined baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes.
Let the chicken thighs sit for a couple of minutes before slicing them.
Top with chopped parsley and serve with cucumber, tomatoes, radishes, eggplant, hummus and pita bread. Or you can serve with whatever salad or grains that your prefer.
When I made the fried eggplant, I microwaved the cut eggplant in a sealed microwave safe container for 8 minutes until it is soft and wilted. I than pan fry it. This way you don’t use nearly as much oil.