Yogurt is a common marinade throughout the Levant region, a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. Not only does it act as a tenderizer, but it also creates a crust on the meat and carries the flavor of the spices (here those are the shawarma heavy-hitters like cumin, coriander, and turmeric).
The chicken can marinate for as little as 30 minutes, or up to 12 hours in the fridge if you’re not in a rush, making it quite doable without tons of planning. Roasting the bird alongside halved shallots and sliced lemons means you get jammy and crispy accompanying bites built right in, cooked in the rich chicken juices.
The original recipe called for 3 shallots, but we more than doubled them to 7 (noted below), all their jammy goodness paired wonderfully with the seasoned chicken, as did the lemon. As sides, we prepared a Warm Farro with Lemon and Herbs dish, and some charred broccoli.
Shawarma Roast Chicken with Shallots and Lemons
- 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
- 1½ tsp. cumin seeds
- 1½ tsp. black peppercorns
- 1½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ¾ tsp. ground turmeric
- 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
- ¼ cup whole-milk plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 3½–4-lb. whole chicken, patted dry
- Kosher salt
- 6-7 medium shallots, halved lengthwise
- 1 lemon, sliced into ¼”-thick rounds, seeds removed
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 4 oregano or thyme sprigs, plus leaves for serving
- Flaky sea salt (for serving)
- Finely grind coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, paprika, and turmeric in a spice mill. Transfer spice mixture to a small bowl; whisk in garlic, yogurt, and 2 Tbsp. oil.
- Generously season chicken with salt, then smear yogurt mixture all over. Let sit on a rimmed baking sheet at room temperature at least 30 minutes, or chill, uncovered, up to 12 hours. If chilling, let chicken sit at room temperature 30 minutes before roasting.
- Preheat oven to 425°. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Place chicken, breast side up, in pan, then nestle shallots, cut side down, and lemon slices around. Season shallots and lemon with salt. Tuck in oregano sprigs and cook, undisturbed, until shallots are starting to brown, about 3 minutes.
- Pour ½ cup water into pan; transfer skillet to oven, arranging so legs are pointing toward back of oven. Roast until skin has taken on some color, 10–15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°; continue to roast until chicken is cooked through and tender (an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast should register 155°; it will climb to 165° as the chicken rests) and shallots are jammy, 60–70 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes.
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board and carve as desired. Arrange on a platter; tuck shallots and lemon slices around. Spoon juices in pan over, top with oregano leaves, and sprinkle with sea salt.
Recipe by Andy Baraghani for Bon Appétit