Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Grilled Lebanese Chicken Kebabs with Garlic Sauce

Warm and hot spices, floral herbs, garlicky sauces, tangy lemon and yogurt, tender meats beautifully charred on a grill to juicy perfection—that’s Lebanese (and much of Middle Eastern) cooking. It’s the combination of all these rich, aromatic, and inviting flavors that gives this cuisine its signature appeal. Small bowls of sauces, olives, salted or pickled vegetables, and warm pita are common accompaniments to the main course.

Spices for the Marinade 
More Ingredients
The garlic sauce is similar to an aioli, except plain Greek yogurt is used in place of fresh mayonnaise. The key is to add the oil a little at a time, whisking to incorporate it evenly into the yogurt mixture. Adding it too quickly can cause the sauce to separate. (Which isn’t the end of the world—just stop adding the oil and whisk vigorously to combine before adding the rest.)

Only four simple ingredients—and it’s one of the most delicious sauces I’ve ever tasted. If you’re a garlic fan, you’ll think so too.

Note: Some garlic sauce recipes call for more oil than yogurt. I reversed that here, using one-half cup yogurt and one-quarter cup extra virgin olive oil. The result is a silky smooth sauce with very creamy texture.

Also note: To prevent the yogurt-and-spice-marinated chicken from sticking to the grill grate, I grilled the kebabs on a cast-iron griddle over hot coals. Key word: hot. You can get that wonderful, smoky grilled flavor and aroma when using a griddle as long as it's very hot before you start cooking. Allow it to warm about 10 minutes over high heat.

If you're a kebab fan, check out Kefta Kebabs with Tahini-Yogurt Sauce, Greek-Style Chicken Kebabs with Classic Tzatziki, Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Cucumber-Chive Yogurt, and Swordfish Skewers with Prosciutto-Wrapped Mango.

Serves 4


For the Chicken
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces (about 24 pieces total)
  • 16 large grape tomatoes
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 16 1-inch squares
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • pita, salted cucumber slices, assorted olives, and garlic sauce (recipe follows), for serving
Bell Pepper Ready to Skewer
For the Garlic Sauce
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the Chicken
  1. Combine the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and all spices (through black pepper) in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir well to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Chicken in Marinade 
Marinated Chicken
  1. Light a grill for high heat. When ready, place a cast-iron griddle on the grate and heat 10 minutes.
  2. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto 8 skewers (soaked in water 30 minutes, if wood), alternating with the tomatoes and bell pepper (about 3 pieces of chicken per skewer).
  3. Brush the griddle with olive oil and grill the skewers, turning several times, until charred and the chicken is just cooked through, 15-17 minutes total, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.
Ready to Grill
Kebabs Beginning to Grill 
Grilled Kebabs
Stack the kebabs on a plate and serve with pita, salted cucumber slices, assorted olives, and garlic sauce (recipe follows) alongside.

Grilled Lebanese Chicken Kebabs with Garlic Sauce
For the Garlic Sauce
  1. Place the garlic cloves on a cutting board and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Use a fork to mash the garlic and salt together to form a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the yogurt.
  2. Very slowly add the oil, a small amount at a time, whisking constantly to combine. Continue adding the oil and whisking until all the oil is combined with the yogurt mixture. Cover and let stand while the chicken grills.
Garlic-Salt Paste 
Garlic Sauce


  1. Yum! The sauce alone looks amazing. These sound so good! Thanks for sharing your recipe and linking up to What'd You Do This Weekend! Pinned :-)

    Ashley @ PioneerMomma.com

    1. Thanks, Ashley! Yes, I have to say I could eat that sauce with a spoon.

      Thanks much for the pin,