These lemony chicken kebabs with chilli, mint and oregano totally hit the spot with my recent craving for Greek flavours. I decided to make tzatziki too because it’s so easy, so much cheaper and better than any shop-bought variety, and I get to make it exactly how I like it – low in fat, mild in garlic and heavy on the cucumber with a citrus zing and a hit of chilli. Simply lip-smackingly delicious.
The by-product of squeezing out all the liquid from the cucumber was a refreshing drink that got me immediately imagining making a cocktail with it. I’m thinking Hendricks gin and some spice. Watch this space.
The kebabs can be cooked on a braai/barbecue, but if you are in a hurry a gas grill or griddle pan works just as well. Ideally, you want to make the marinade in advance and let them wallow in that for as long as possible to absorb the flavour.
In the past I have enjoyed making tzatziki with zucchini, it tends to be drier and tastes amazing, but I love a more traditional cucumber version too. I used a low-fat yoghurt to make the tzatziki because I am
trying to watch my calorie intake. Ideally, a thick, full-fat Greek yoghurt is the best. I like a high ratio of cucumber to yoghurt, but if you like your tzatziki creamy, simply increase the quantity of yoghurt. It needs a fair bit of salt, so keep tasting and adjusting until you are happy with it. As far as the garlic goes, I’m not a big fan of raw garlic, it is very abrasive for me, so I only use half to one small clove. If you like it very pungent, just add more.
Recipe | makes 4 large kebabs
- 4 skinless free-range chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves
- 2T roughly chopped fresh oregano
- 1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic
- zest of a lemon
- juice of half a lemon (reserve the other half for spritzing the kebabs after they are grilled)
- 1 English cucumber, centre vein of seeds removed and then grated
- 1 cup / 250 g yoghurt (greek or low fat)
- 1/2 – 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- pinch of dried chilli flakes/cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 T finely chopped mint
- 2t finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 t dried
- zest of half a lemon
- juice of 1/4 of a lemon
- sea salt and pepper
Slightly flatten the chicken breast with the palm of your hand and then cut into 3 strips down the length of the breast. Cut these strips in half. Thread the chicken strips onto a skewer until you have the size you want. I got 4 large kebabs out of these *if you are using wooden skewers and making this for your braai/barbecue. pre-soak them in water, as this prevents them from catching on the fire.
Place all your marinade ingredients into a food processor or liquidiser and whizz up until you have a thick sauce. Pour this over the chicken kebabs ensuring they are well coated, cover and refrigerate for an hour, the day or even overnight.
To make the tzatziki place the grated cucumber in a muslin cloth or clean tea towel and ring out as much of the liquid as you can. Hang this over a colander over a bowl to catch the liquid which makes a refreshing drink. Keep on ringing it until it is fairly dry. Mix this with all the other ingredients and adjust the seasoning to taste. A spritz of lemon livens it up, and a pinch of chilli adds a burst of heat.
Grill your kebabs on all sides turning as you go, and until they are cooked through. Serve with fresh mint, chopped chilli and lemon wedges to further spritz over after cooking.
My all-time best way to eat chicken kebabs – or any Greek flavoured meat – is in toasty warm pita bread, slathered with tzatziki and filled to the brim with crunchy fresh salad.
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