Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma and Basmati Rice Pilaf

This last weekend has been chilly, windy, and stormy. A perfect time for some comfort food and what’s better than chicken and rice? How about an Afghan twist on chicken and rice!

In addition to this very flavorful and yummy dish, I also sliced and baked an eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash for a side veggie. I omitted several things from the original recipe, such as raisins and nuts in the pilaf. You can access the chicken shwarma, here and the basmati rice here.

Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma and Basmati Rice Pilaf

Chicken Shawarma


  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • A pinch ground cinnamon
  • Red-pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 pounds chicken (I used boneless, skinless breasts)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and/or cilantro


  • Prepare a marinade for the chicken
  • Combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red-pepper flakes in a large bowl, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken, and toss well to coat. Cover, and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours
    • Cooking tip: I marinated the chicken for about 24 hours and it perfectly fine – I’d recommend marinating it for more than 12 hours because the lemon juices soften the chicken so it’s really tender
  • Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade, and place in baking dish, spreading everything evenly across it.
  • Put the chicken in the oven, and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes
  • Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes
    • Slice into bits

 Basmati Rice


  • 1-1/2 cups Basmati rice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions, from one small onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-1/4 cups water
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Place rice in medium bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Using your hands, gently swish grains to release any excess starch
  • Carefully pour off water, leaving rice in bowl
    • Repeat four to five times, until water runs almost clear. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain water from rice. Place strainer over bowl and set aside
  • Melt butter in a pot over medium-low heat
    • Add onions and cook, stirring regularly, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes
    • Add cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic to sautéed onions and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer
  • Add rice to pot, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add water, salt and pepper to rice and return to a boil 


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