Ras El Hanout Chicken Kebabs come together so quickly with the help of the delicious Moroccan spice mixture - ras el hanout. Combined with fresh lemon juice and zest, olive oil, and garlic, the marinade could not be simpler, or more flavorful. After grilling to perfection, dip the tender, succulent chicken in a fresh mint and lemon zest Greek yogurt sauce. Delicious!
What is "ras el hanout?"
Whether you use a commercially prepared ras el hanout, or make your own simple mixture, you're sure to love this exotic combination of spices. Ras el hanout recipes vary, but typically include spices like cumin, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and cayenne. An authentic ras el hanout is made from freshly ground whole spices, and may include more exotic spices like star anise and cardamom pods. You may even find dried caper and lavender in some recipes. 🙂
Moroccan cooks typically reserve this spice mixture for specialty dishes... The flavor is indeed special, and I love incorporating it into simple dishes like my Moroccan Carrot Salad With Lemon Dressing and Moroccan Couscous Salad With Grilled Veggies and Chicken. Ras el hanout transforms even the humblest fare!
How to Make the Kebabs
Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a 1 gallon zip bag, add the chicken, and place it in the refrigerator to soak - at least an hour and as long as 24 hours. The batch I made for photos, didn't get cooked the evening I had planned for it, so it soaked overnight. I ended up grilling the kebabs for our lunch the next day. Wow! The extra time equals extra flavor packed and moist grilled chicken! If you only have an hour, you will still have very flavorful chicken. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, and prepare the yogurt sauce.
Skewer the chicken, place on the grill. An instant read thermometer is helpful with chicken as it is so dry when overcooked. I feel chicken is best when cooked to 160º, as it will continue to rise to the FDA recommended 165° as it rests.
This recipe is actually the 2nd installment of a menu I prepared on our Labor Day weekend camping trip. We had the Moroccan Carrot Salad With Lemon Dressing, a quick couscous pilaf, and the same marinade on a whole grilled chicken breast. As I refined the recipe, I played with the idea of a simple yogurt dipping sauce (my family loves to dip food 😀 ). Of course yogurt and Mediterranean food are a classic combination!
The addition of red peppers and sweet onions brought the color I was looking for, and they both cook in about the same amount of time as the grilled chicken chunks. Aside from the time in the marinade, this dish only requires about 20 minutes. Add a simple side dish or two, and you have a healthy and delicious meal. We froze a third skewer for hubby Mark to enjoy while I visit our kids and grandsons in North Carolina later this week.
This dish pairs beautifully with an Albariño, Viognier (unoaked), or Chardonnay (unoaked). My favorite, though, is a dry rosé from Spain (or similar). If you prefer a red wine, a tempranillo or garnacha will work. Craft beer lovers might enjoy a saison or wheat beer with a wedge of orange. Soak up the September sunshine on the patio with a savory kebab and your favorite beverage. Before you know it, the season will pass...