The Al-hendis’ Syrian shish taouk on charcoal and tabbouleh

Syrian family’s shop a cultural gathering spot

Bashar Al-hendi remembers Damascus in the 1990s as having a vibrant and modern downtown, universities where there was a mixture of social classes, and a feeling of inclusiveness.Yet he and his brother, Ammar, were 20-year-olds brimming with dreams and ideas, focused on fresh starts and exploring opportunities away from the Syrian capital.

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The Al-hendis' Syrian shish taouk on charcoal

Jasmine Mangalaseril
These are quick and easy Syrian chicken kebabs, but the meat needs time to absorb the marinade’s flavours. It’s the yoghurt that makes the meat its succulence, but don’t let the marinating stage go on for too long (longer than 90 minutes) as you may get woolly chicken. For the best flavour, grill these kebabs over charcoal–but they can be cooked on a gas or tabletop grill, on a grill pan, or in the oven. 
Print Recipe 8-10 kebabs


For the marinade

  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
  • 60 ml olive oil (¼ cup)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 30-45 ml plain yoghurt OR sour cream OR buttermilk
  • 15 ml paprika (1 Tbsp)
  • 5 ml oregano (1 tsp)
  • 2.5 ml black pepper (½ tsp)
  • 2.5 ml salt (½ tsp)
  • 1.25 ml ginger powder (¼ tsp)
  • 1.25 ml chilli powder (¼ tsp)
  • 1 kg boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cubed into 5cm (2-inch) pieces (2 lbs)

To serve (optional):

  • pitas
  • sliced onions
  • chopped parsley
  • toum
  • Syrian hummus (hummus spiced with cumin and chilli powder or paprika)
  • Tabbouleh or fattoush salad


  • Mix the marinade in a bowl that’s large enough to hold the chicken. Add the chicken, turn to coat and refrigerate for 1-1½ hours.

While the chicken is marinating

  • Soak wooden/bamboo skewers (if using) in water for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the barbecue to medium (preferably using natural wood charcoal) or preheat your grill pan

Cooking the chicken

  • When the chicken is ready, skewer the pieces. Discard any marinade that the chicken didn’t absorb.
  • Grill the skewers by turning them every 5 minutes until juices run clear, about 10-15 minutes.
  • When cooked, rest the skewers by placing them in an empty, warmed (but not hot), tightly lidded pot or tent them in tinfoil for about 5 to 10 minutes.


A version of this recipe appeared in my profile of the Al-hendi family of Kitchener’s Ammar Halal Meats, for my World of Food column for Grand Magazine (July-August 2019).  

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