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Plate of Chicken Kawarma with Lemon Sauce over Hummus.

Chicken Kawarma is the recipe to reach for when you want to shake up the routine, and get out of the chicken rut for real!

Israeli Cooking at Home

My friend Chris Styler is such a damn fine cook.  I love to eat his food, I love to cook with him, and I love the fact that every once in a while we make plans to create some sort of themed meal and throw ideas and ingredients back and forth like bean bags, and finally end up with something quite awesome.

We usually pull the kids in, too—there have been homemade pasta nights, crostada nights, and on one memorable occasion, an all-souffle dinner, which was pretty much as overambitious and crazy as it sounds.  We were totally sober when we thought of it, too.

Metal spatula flipping Chicken Kawarma in a skillet.

Chicken Kawarma with Hummus

This adapted recipe was the result of an idea to cook an entire meal inspired by the cookbooks of Yotam Ottolengi and Sami Tamimi, which focus on food from the Mediterranean and Middle East.

It was a bit of a departure from my normal fare, but I had pretty much everything on hand (ok well, not the pomegrante seeds….), yet had never blended these flavors in this kind of combination.  No matter how often you cook, and how adept you are in the kitchen, we can all do with a little nudge to shake things up, push outside of the comfort zone.

Woman spreading hummus onto a plate.

(At this point I might do a little dance, something like the bastard step child of twerking, and my children would cower and hide their eyes, and never invite their friends over again).

And while I certainly respect the fact that my kids might not like everything I put in front of them, I was kind of elated and frankly surprised when they inhaled this dinner and asked for more.

Spatula scooping Chicken Kawarma onto a plate of Hummus.

Chris and I have called each other since just to reminisce about this recipe.  Normal people call each other to recapture about a great symphony or a wonderful party.  We might do that, too.

Woman drizzling lemon sauce on a plate of Chicken Kawarma over Hummus.

What to Serve with Chicken Kawarma Luckily I wrote down the ingredients as it came together, and it didn’t get lost in the overzealous sipping of pinot grigio that often accompanies our cooking sessions (us not the children).  We served it with the Endive and Radicchio Salad with Fresh Mozzarella, which also met with mildly astonishing approval from the entire peanut gallery (somewhat Mediterranean, but not really Israeli) .

Chicken Kawarma with Lemon Sauce over Hummus is inspired by Ottolengi and Tamimi—the combination of flavors and textures is magical and addicting.

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Spoon scooping Chicken Kawarma with Lemon Sauce over Hummus.

The toppings are optional but the pomegranate seeds in particular provided such alluring burst of somewhat tart sweetness (and gorgeousness)  that you should go out of your way to get them.  You can now buy them already removed from the fruit, which is a convenience I am so happy to pay for.

Chicken Kawarma with Lemon Sauce piled over Hummus on a white plate.

Hummus – Store-Bought or Homemade

Speaking of paying for convenience—if making your own hummus is one thing too many, just buy it.  Also if you don’t have the time to caramelize the onions, just slice one onion in half (red or yellow), and then very thinly into half moons and use that.  Different, but still delicious (and actually the bite of the raw onion would be super nice against all of the earthiness that’s going on in this recipe).

Plates of Chicken Kawarma with Lemon Sauce over Hummus on a table.

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Chicken Kawarma with Lemon Sauce over Hummus

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 8 People
The combination of flavors and textures does a little happy dance in your mouth.


For the Lemon Sauce

  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the Chicken Kawarma

  • 3 pounds skinless boneless thighs
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 recipe Hummus with Sesame Oil or 1 16-ounce store-bought container hummus

To Serve

  • Caramelized Onions see Note
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds see Cooking Tip
  • Pomegranate seeds


  • Make the Lemon Sauce: In a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest and juice, garlic, jalapeno, and salt.  Set aside.
  • For the Chicken Kawarma, dice the chicken.  In a large bowl combine the pepper, allspice, cinnamon, oregano, vinegar, mint, parsley and salt. Add the chicken, toss to coat and let marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or in the fridge for about 2 hours.
  • In a large skillet over medium high heat add about 2 teaspoons of the oil.  When hot, add about 1/3 of the chicken mixture and sauté for about 4 minutes, until the chicken is just barely cooked through.  Transfer to a plate.  Repeat with another 2 teaspoons of oil, and 1/3 of the chicken.  Add that to the first batch of cooked chicken.  Repeat with the rest of the oil, and the spiced chicken.
  • Meanwhile, spread the hummus in a thick circle, with the edges a bit higher than the middle (like a rimmed plate made of hummus).  You can do this on individual plates if you’re feeling sophisticated,or on a large platter.  Pile the chicken mixture into the center of the circle(s) of hummus, drizzle the sauce generously over the chicken, and sprinkle with any desired toppings.


The toppings are optional but the pomegranate seeds in particular provided such alluring burst of somewhat tart sweetness (and gorgeousness)  that you should go out of your way to get them.  You can now buy them already removed from the fruit, which is a convenience I am so happy to pay for.


Calories: 336.92kcal, Carbohydrates: 10.46g, Protein: 37.59g, Fat: 16.07g, Saturated Fat: 3.08g, Cholesterol: 161.59mg, Sodium: 515.65mg, Potassium: 592.88mg, Fiber: 3.99g, Sugar: 0.53g, Vitamin A: 557.19IU, Vitamin C: 15.63mg, Calcium: 52.14mg, Iron: 3.19mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. This was easy and delicious. The chicken alone is even delicious! Made with caramelized onions and added the pomegranate seeds. Love the mixture of flavors!!

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