Healthy Chicken Shawarma Bowl with Lentils, Pickled Vegetables, and Garlic Yogurt Sauce
Recipe type: gluten-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5 servings
I know this recipe looks long, but that's because it's actually four recipes in one. I suggest making the lentils and pickled vegetables a day in advance, get the chicken marinating the night before, then you can cook the chicken and stir together the yogurt sauce in a matter of minutes.
For the lentils:
  • 1 cup (200g) green or brown lentils
  • 2¼ cups water
  • ½ tsp. fine-grain sea salt
  • optional: 1-2 TBSP olive oil and/or lemon juice, to taste
For the pickled vegetables:
  • 1½ - 2 cups thinly sliced vegetables -- red cabbage, turnips, red onions, beets, carrots, or any combination
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 8-10 whole peppercorns
  • 8-10 whole coriander seeds
For the chicken:
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch thick strips or 1 inch cubes
  • ¼ cup unsweetened greek yogurt
  • 1 TBSP olive oiil
  • 1½ tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (or ½ tsp. fine-grain sea salt)
For the garlic yogurt sauce (see recipe notes):
  • ½ cup unsweetened greek yogurt
  • 3-4 cloves roasted garlic, or 1 clove raw garlic
  • 2-3 TBSP finely chopped english cucumber
  • 2-3 TBSP finely chopped fresh mint
  • 2-3 TBSP lemon juice, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional: ½ tsp. ground sumac, plus more for garnish (this is a common ingredient in middle eastern cuisine and has a lemony brightness in flavor. You can find it at most spice shops, or online HERE.)
For the lentils:
  1. Rinse the lentils and pick over them to make sure there aren't any stones. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan, add the water and salt, and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a barely-there simmer.
  2. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender enough to your liking. If there is still some water left in the pot when they've finished, you can drain them in a strainer. If they run out of water and aren't tender yet, add a splash more.
  3. When finished cooking, taste, and add more salt if needed. Serve as is, or with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon.
  4. Lentils can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to five days.
For the pickled vegetables:
  1. Place all the vegetables into a pint sized jar or other lidded container. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour over the vegetables, allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. (Note: I suggest doing this all in one jar. However, if you are using a vegetable like beets or red cabbage and don't want the other veggies to be stained pink, you can separate them into their own jars. If you do, you may need to double the amount of brine (water, vinegar, salt, etc.) to fill all the jars. I did it this way because I didn't want everything stained pink in the photos, but normally I wouldn't bother.)
For the chicken:
  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients in a big bowl or gallon sized baggie, add the chicken, and mix until all the chicken is evenly coated. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours, or in the fridge overnight.
  2. To cook the chicken on the grill: preheat the grill so it's nice and hot, clean the grates and brush with oil. Skewer the chicken, place on the heated grill, and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side depending on the heat of the grill, and how thick your chicken is. Grill until the pieces are cooked all the way through, then remove to a plate or cutting board and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. (Bonus tip, I prefer these metal skewers to wooden ones.)
  3. To cook the chicken on the stove: heat an extra 1-2 TBSP oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (cast iron is preferred to get a nice char, but a nonstick skillet will work too). Add the chicken and let cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked all the way through. Remove from the pan and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
For the garlic yogurt sauce:
  1. Mash the garlic into a paste. If you're using roasted garlic, this is really easy. If you're using raw garlic, you can grate it on a microplane like this one , or grind it in a mortar and pestle to get a fine paste.
  2. Add the garlic to the yogurt along with all the other ingredients, and mix well. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
To serve:
  1. Add a little of everything to a bowl, and dig in!
If you're a garlic lover, you know that most middle eastern restaurants serve an amazing, thick garlic sauce -- almost a paste, really -- with their shawarma. This garlic yogurt sauce is NOT that sauce. I took some liberties here and made something closer to a Greek tzatziki sauce (yogurt and cucumber). I love how the bright tangy flavor of the yogurt and clean taste of the cucumber and mint lighten up the flavors of this dish. If you'd rather try your hand at making a more traditional Lebonese garlic sauce, this recipe looks like a good one: The Ultimate Guide To Lebanese Garlic Sauce

For this garlic yogurt sauce, I strongly recommend using roasted garlic if you can. Roasting garlic is a simple way to mellow the flavor and take away the bite. This way you get a ton of garlic flavor without the overpowering, almost spicy quality that raw garlic can have. You can find my tutorial on how to roast a whole head of garlic HERE. The same principle goes for roasting cloves of garlic, too -- just peel as many cloves as you want to use, and continue with the tutorial from there.

Shawarma recipe adapted from this Yogurt Marinated Shawarma. I love using yogurt for marinating chicken because the lactic acid tenderizes the meat and keeps it nice and juicy, plus it creates a wonderful char on the grill.
Recipe by Will Cook For Friends at