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Chicken Kebab

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Chicken Kebabs

Been experimenting with different marinades to replicate the taste of the chicken meat found in kebab shops but with no luck. I have tried to use:

-low fat yogurt
-Malt vinegar
-crushed garlic
-black pepper
-salt
-curry powder
-allspice (used cinnamon/cloves/nutmeg powder)
-lemon juice

for marinating the chicken thighs overnight. But the taste is not right at all and the meat is still too tough.

I am thinking of using something fatty like mayonnaise (to make the meat smoother) instead of yogurt for my next attempt.

Does anyone of you know what they actually use to marinade the chicken in the shops in the UK?

Thanks in Advance!

post #2 of 27

I think it would help if you could tell us which kind of kebab shops: where are you located, and are the shops owned by Indians? Greeks? Lebanese? Etc.... I'm tempted to assume Indian because you're in UK... but....?

 

Without more info, and assuming Indian flavor profiles, here's what I would do: 

 

- First marinade with lemon juice, S & P: only 1/2 hr. 

 

- Second marinade: 

 

1) Toast some cumin seeds, coriander seeds, bird eye chilis, coarse salt, whole peppercorns, fennel seeds.

2) Pound all with fresh garlic and ginger in a mortar and pestle. 

3) Mix with a bit of oil and a bit of yogurt. Not too much: the more yogurt/oil, the more you dilute the flavor of the spices. 

4) Marinate overnight. 

 

You can then tweak to taste . . . 

post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 

Firstly, thank you for your reply.  The kebab I had in the UK is probably Turkish.  I have also been suggested to use brine to bath the chicken for 4 hours before actual marinating to make it more tender and juicy.

 

Your method sounds interesting and I will try it this weekend!

post #4 of 27

French Fries' suggestions sound good. I'd be tempted to add a bit of fresh greenery to the second marinade, such as chopped green onion tops or oregano, perhaps cilantro if you enjoy it.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

Just a few questions:

 

1 - How long should the second marinade be?

2 - Can I use a blender instead of a mortar and pestle?

post #6 of 27
Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy-T View Post

 

1 - How long should the second marinade be?

2 - Can I use a blender instead of a mortar and pestle?

 

1 - Anywhere from 3 to 24 hours, depending on the desired balance of flavor: the shorter the marinade the more you'll taste the chicken, the less you'll taste the marinade. The longer the marinade the less you'll taste the chicken, the more you'll taste the marinade. I recommend a longer marinade time while you still tweak the marinade. Once you found the ideal marinade, pull back on the marinade time (if desired) until you find the right balance. 

 

2 - Yes but the result won't be the same. Try both if you can. 


Edited by French Fries - 12/1/14 at 10:46pm
post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 

That sounds great!  Can't wait to try it out.  Also, I want to add that I am using frozen thighs, I guess I need to completely defrost and pat dry before marinating?

post #8 of 27

I would definitely not put curry in it.  

 

Try this:

 

- yogurt

- lemon juice

- minced shallot

- minced garlic

- red wine vinegar

- bay leaf

- saffron

- paprika

- pepper

- cumin and coriander

- red chili flakes

- olive oil

- dried herbs such as thyme and/or oregano

 

If you're using chicken thigh there is no need to brine, it should be tender after a few hours of marinating in this.  I wouldn't let it go over night, it will turn to mush.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #9 of 27

It's best if they are thawed.  And you should also cut the meat into cubes before marinating.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 

Got it!  But saffron seems a tad expensive!

post #11 of 27

Turmeric will give you the visual pop much like the saffron, but you'll lose the flavor of the saffron. Save the saffron until you've figured out the marinade and are making it for a more special occasion.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #12 of 27

Wet marinades have to be a bit briny.  

post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the additional advice.  I will try turmeric and use more salt in the marinade.  Another thing I thought about is to remove the skin from the thighs and render fat from it and use it in the marinade to produce stronger chicken flavor.  Think it's doable?  Or should I just leave the skin intact?

post #14 of 27

Don't bother with the chicken fat in the marinade. Maybe use it to grease the grill and baste with during cooking. In the marinade, it will just congeal under refrigeration and absorb the fat soluble flavors. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #15 of 27

If they are Turkish they are probably marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and a home-made spice mixture called baharat--which has many, many variations--probably one for every cook. It usually involves black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, sometimes nutmeg, sometimes ginger, sometimes dried mint, etc.  You can buy prepared baharat mixes from spice sellers or find several recipes on line. There's a pretty simple one on Epicurious that I like a lot.

 

 

Edited to add:

 

Oops! forgot to say garlic and grated onion for the Turkish-style marinade.

 

If, on the other hand, the kebabs you like might be Lebanese, the marinade is probably just olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and more garlic than most people would consider prudent. The fancy Lebanese restaurant I worked in many years ago used to leave the chicken pieces in it overnight and the texture didn't suffer.

 

They also grilled the kebabs over an open flame.


Edited by ChicagoTerry - 12/3/14 at 6:42pm
post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions.  The Epicurious recipe does seem promising.  Just wondering if it's worth toasting the spices before marinating.

post #17 of 27

Yes. Whole spices like cloves, coriander, cinnamon bark and such that are toasted in a dry pan until fragrant and then ground are WAY better than preground versions.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #18 of 27
Thread Starter 

I only have powdered forms.  Are they worth toasting?

post #19 of 27

Powdered spiced would burn pretty easily. I roast a lot of my own whole spices but with the baharat I don't think it's necessary. The only thing I've ever used in its roasted form for that it the cumin because I always have it around but if you have fresh, unroasted powdered cumin, I would just go with that.

post #20 of 27

I woudln't toast pre ground spices.  Go with what you have now but buying spices like cumin, coriander, fennel etc whole has its benefits.  It's cheaper and they last longer and taste much better.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 

In the place where i live, it's very hard to find whole spices.   All I see in the supermarket are powdered spices.  So I guess I will have to make do with that.

post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy-T View Post
 

In the place where i live, it's very hard to find whole spices.   All I see in the supermarket are powdered spices.  So I guess I will have to make do with that.

Where do you live? I rarely buy the overpriced spices from the supermarket, I order online, usually from Penzey's. It's really a big change using the whole spices, toasting them and using a mortar and pestle to pound them into a powder at the last minute. 

post #23 of 27

If you've got kebab shops, you've almost certainly got Middle-Eastern/Turkish markets near by. I think you said you are in the UK? Are there Indian markets near you?

 

Wave goodbye to the supermarket, buy an inexpensive coffee grinder, and venture forth into a whole new world of fresh, whole spices. You'll never go back.

post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 

Im actually in Hong Kong at the moment, but the place where I had the kebab is in the UK.

post #25 of 27

Chinese markets are another great source for whole spices! Maybe not exactly the ones you are looking for at the moment, though.

post #26 of 27

I can walk a couple blocks to the north and buy about an ounce of whole coriander seeds for about $7.95 at Williams-Sonamo. I can walk a couple blocks to the south to the Asian market, and get a 16 ounce bag of whole coriander seeds for $3.19. Which is what I happened to do  a few days ago.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #27 of 27

I go to a natural foods store for my whole spices. They have them in bulk jars so I can buy them a tablespoon at a time if I want.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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