Syrian spice, a Pantry Special (Recipe: chicken shish kabob)
Pantry Specials are great ingredients that find their way into my pantry from time to time, but not all the time.
Syrian spice, Syrian allspice, Arabic spice, baharat: what's in a name? The basic ingredients in the Syrian version of this popular North African spice blend -- black peppercorns, allspice berries, cinnamon and nutmeg -- can be enhanced with a bit of sumac, cumin, cardamom, cassia or cinnamon, paprika, cloves, rose petals, dried lime, saffron or mint. A rich and peppery (spicy, not hot) mix, Syrian spice makes a delicious rub for grilled chicken, or the base of a flavorful dip for roasted vegetables. My local Middle Eastern market blends its own, letting the pungent, complex flavor of allspice take center stage. I love it.
Is this Pantry Special new to you?
Where to buy online (be sure to check ingredients; each blend is different):
Arabic baharat (World Spice Merchants), $1.75/oz
Egyptian spice mix (Zamouri Spices), $4.95 for 1.7 oz
Baharat (My Spice Sage), $2.25/oz
Chicken shish kabob
A slight variation on our favorite shish taouk, this chicken is cooked off skewers, on the grill, and makes a perfect filling for pitas or a topping for rice or couscous. Serves 6.
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-4 cloves garlic, sliced, plus 4 cloves mashed (or from a jar)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Few grinds of fresh nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp Syrian spice/baharat
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well (with your hands). Marinate, covered or in a ziploc bag, in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours, or overnight.
Heat grill to high. Place chicken on a barbecue grid, and cook over direct heat for 10-15 minutes, turning frequently. (Can also be made under the broiler.)